Category: Academics

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

The students are working very hard on preparing their music for the end of the summer concert. Students have also been taking rhythmic and melodic dictation. All of their repertoire is listed on our GPGC CHOIR BLOG with listening links. We have discussed our END OF THE SUMMER BRIDGE PROJECT that is due next Wednesday. We have also discussed dress for the end of the year concert. The students seem excited about their songs and I greatly enjoy working with them.


Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students were introduced to the Arduino platform and Integrated Developer Environment and constructed their first of several electronic circuits.


Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week students participated in a quiz bowl. Questions come from a high school Quiz Bowl tournament. We also played games. Games included Blokus, Chess, Hippos and Crocs, Lords of Waterdeep, Score Four, Set, Stratego, Tsuro, and Twixt.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 4 was briefer than anticipated due to hurricane Barry; we missed Friday’s class. When students left for 4th of July, none of the students conducting science projects had collected data. This situation prompted me to impress upon these students how little time they had left to complete their projects. They got to work, and all students began (and two completed) their data collection this week. Data collection for the class study was complete before the holiday.

This week is the one during which we prepare for presentation of projects on Friday. Ideally, all students would be finished collecting data and would have a good rough draft of their final paper. However, some students working on their own projects had not completed data collection, which created a time problem. I drilled students doing science studies repeatedly to help them become very clear about the design of their study and what their variables are. We also discussed their hypotheses and how analyzing their data would allow them to confirm or fail to confirm those hypotheses. Students worked on creating a PowerPoint for their presentations and a final paper. I went to study hall on Wednesday evening to provide assistance to students working on science, both individual projects and the group working on presenting the class study. All students had a completed PowerPoint and were able to present their studies on Friday. Three of four students who chose science projects had not submitted a satisfactory paper so must spend Week 7 on this task if they are to graduate.



Weekly Reports – Composition, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshman Composition (Mrs. Cecile Tate, Instructor)

Composition I continued working on adding concrete details and commentary to their literary response using one of the short stories they read in class. The plan was for the students to write  a topic sentence then structure the paragraph using one concrete detail from the story and two sentences explaining the concrete detail. This pattern was repeated and the paragraph ended with a concluding sentence. I wanted the students to be aware that literary responses are more meaningful if they have structure.

Senior Composition and Grad Composition (Ms. Sarah Harshbarger, Instructor)

With the seniors, we discussed poems from various periods of American literature. We talked about narrative poetry and lyric poetry and what differentiates each from flash fiction. The students began brainstorming for their poems to turn in on 7/3.

The Grads discussed poems from different periods of American literature and how each period influenced the poetry that came after it. We discussed different kinds of poetic technique and how to make writing choices based on the subject matter and tone of the poem. The students began brainstorming for their poems which are due on 7/3.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Final Weeks

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week four, we spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few.

I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside. For when he returned, according to Plato, and tried revealing Truth to the others, he’d be killed. They really enjoyed the play acting and no students (or teachers) were harmed in the making of the cave.

At the end of the week, we continued with Plato’s concepts of Utopia and what Utopia actually means. The students brought up ideas such as socialism, capitalism, and communism. Again I let them debate with on the idea of the Philosopher-King and the caste system.

In week five, we began with the introduction of Aristotle. We discussed his history and his concepts of the Unmovable Mover. We also discussed Aristotle’s influence during the Middle Ages due to the Muslim world and his reintroduction to European thought through St. Thomas Aquinas. After Aristotle, we then moved to how the Romans adopted much of Greek culture.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Three

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we finished our analysis of interstate conflict. We continued the evaluation of deterrence, which included students reading excerpts from chapters 5 and 6 from Arms and Influence. These chapters included problems facing long terms disarmament and the potential issues facing states who desire to deescalate a standoff between major powers. We evaluated intervention into conflicts regarding why states intervene, how the intervene, and the likelihood of success regarding mediation. We ended our discussion of interstate conflict by spending time addressing the current conflict with Iran and the continued conflict with North Korea. On Thursday we began our evaluation of intrastate conflict (civil conflict or civil war). We covered state failure and intrastate conflict onset and economic explanations for intrastate conflict onset. Students were assigned a reading from Leashing the Dogs of War entitled “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy.” On Friday students continued the state development project. Several students sent out spies, some students developed weapons programs, and other students worried about rebellions within their borders.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This week was devoted mostly to the topic of memory formation and especially to problems in memory.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:


Freshman Science & Sophomore Science (Ms. Keesha Jennings, Instructor)

Freshmen: This week we continued our research to create the perfect catapults. The students learned about kinetic and potential energy to help design a catapult that could succeed in three areas; distance, power, and accuracy. After catapult testing was complete, we focused on Newton’s Laws of Motion. This new focus lead to the creation of balloon powered cars! Designs included ideas about friction, action and reaction, and aerodynamics.

Sophomore: In Science II the students learned about chemical reactions. They discovered how a catalyst can speed up the rate of a reaction, the way energy is released or absorbed in terms of endothermic and exothermic reactions, and the way a closed system can help explain the Law of Conservation of Matter.


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During the third week, students planning their own studies had conferences with me to work toward a good design and a feasible plan for data collection. I also encouraged them to find additional background information so that they have some information about similar research related to their topic. (Last week we discussed background sources and how to find them. In addition, I provided students with one background source to get them started; they must find at least two others.) That is, these students pursued the details of turning a good idea into a process of data collection. Students not conducting science studies for their Senior Projects began data collection on the class study, which involved testing in the rat lab. We spend Monday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats in s study that varies the amount of prior exposure the rats had to sucrose reinforcement pellet (4 days vs. 0 days of exposure). The study’s hypothesis is that prior exposure to this flavor will make the rats more willing to work for the same flavored pellets in comparison to pellets of a different flavor. The training boxes measure how many bar presses the rats make, enabling us to make the comparison. Each day, half of the rats work in a Skinner box with banana-flavored reinforcers, while the other half worked in a box that dispenses plain sugar-flavored pellets. Our study seeks to determine if the prior exposure affects the rats’ bar-press responses.


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week’s focus was on What is Rhetorical and the Art of Persuasive. Students began the week learning about ethos, logos, and pathos. They were assigned a topic then wrote an argumentative essay based on their stance on the issue. Then we spent some time learning about rhetorical analysis, by analyzing nytimes student written editorials and then wrote a rhetorical analysis of Steve Job’s Commencement Speech from 2005.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what actually history is when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

The Sophists were introduced to set up Greek Philosophy for next week. The students made good analogies deciding that the Sophists, particularly Protagoris, were born far ahead of their time and would do very well in our modern society. We also talked about how most of what we know of them is from Plato, therefore one should always consider the source when looking at historical figures.  We introduced Socrates and I’m really sad that I have to teach him his ending next week. The kids really seem to love him so far.


Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We finished reading Utopia by Sir Thomas More. Students discussed big ideas from the book such as wealth, virtue, equality, justice, and symbolism. Students were assigned homework finding two symbols on the book and describing what those symbols represent. Next we began a project based on Utopia. Then we discussed the concept of the Social Contract. Students also began reading Lord of the Flies as a class and discussed foreshadowing. To close out the week, we took a quiz.


Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we wrapped the novel 1984. Students had their usual class discussion and also thought about how our world today is similar to the world in 1984.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Two

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

We addressed bargaining, negotiations, and deterrence. The bargaining discussion pulled heavily from James Fearon’s work. Students learned about credible signals within bargaining including tying hands, which involve audience costs, and sunk costs, which involve the movement of resources like military troops. We covered how time horizons, iteration, power differences, reputation, settlement ranges, and information affect bargaining. Students read the chapter of Force and Statecraft on negotiations and I addressed the import role 3rd party mediation plays in negotiations between states. They also read portions of Arms and Influence and a selection from the chapter of Force and Statecraft on deterrence. We discussed how deterrence and coercive diplomacy intersect. We ended the week with the State Development project. Some states have struggled with attempts to democratize or secure important resources. Few states considered military pacts.


Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During Week 2, we finished our examination of perceptual biases and began our examination of cognitive biases that often lead to faulty beliefs and poor decisions.

Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:


Freshman Science & Sophomore Science (Ms. Keesha Jennings, Instructor)

Freshmen: This week was all about geometry and physics. We built gumdrop structures to learn that when a force is added to a triangle it is spread evenly through all three sides. We also built catapults to discover how it is possible to use stored energy to hurl a projectile or payload.

Sophomore: This week we started off with a discussion about saturation and solubility. The students discovered that heat can affect how fast and how much of a solute is dissolved in a substance. We wrapped up the week with a fun hands-on experiment using oobleck to learn about viscosity and non-Newtonian fluids.


Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 2 was devoted to 1) covering background in science to bring all students toward an accurate understanding and usage of terminology, 2) exploring various research methods, 3) connecting the methods to the studies of students doing science projects, and 4) introducing students doing to the class study to the concepts and procedures for that study.