Category: Academics

Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Four

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 (Ms. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Students read about the trial, and death of Socrates from the biography by Cora Mason. They then wrote a short opinion about Socrates’ verdict. On Tuesday the class read Aristotle’s description of friendship. They applied the descriptions to one of their friends in a short essay. Next they read “The Cask of Amontillado” and began analyzing the story using the elements of drama and the parts of a short story. On Thursday the students filled in a short guided writing planner and developed an original short story.

 

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week’s focus was Poetry. Each day we concentrated on learning about a different type of poem. Monday-Blackout Poetry, Tuesday-Ode, Wednesday, Ekphrastic, Thursday-Sonnet, Friday-Freevers. Several students really shined this week as poetry was their niche.

 


Weekly Reports – Science, Week Four

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 (Susan Nunez, Instructor)

This week we tried to create Rube Goldberg contraptions. The game Mouse Trap was our example. Students had to use all Six Simple Machines. They first drew/ made a blueprint of what they wanted to create. Then, given a specific set of materials, they tried to actually build that creation. Each one had a specific final outcome. Like Mouse Trap, the goal was to catch a mouse or whatever idea they attempt.

 

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

The students doing the class study spent Monday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data. By this time, those students have become comfortable with the procedure and handling the rats. By Friday, we had completed the students’ participation with the data collection. I met with students conducting science projects in the dorm on Sunday to help them clarify their designs, understand their variables, develop their materials, and prepare to collect data. Some students were clearer than others on what they needed to do to move forward with their studies, but it was important for all students to begin collecting data this week. For each of the other days, I met with those students to help them produce a finished set of materials and a script to use in interacting with participants. Supervised their work and helped them get copies of the materials they needed to conduct their studies.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

We considered topics related to therapies for mental illness, taking a historical view. We had already covered Freud’s psychoanalytic approach, which is a talk-based therapy. This week’s topics focused on biologically based interventions, including lobotomies, electroconvulsive therapy, and drugs used to treat schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders.


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Four

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 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.

 

 

Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week we covered the 14th Amendment “due process” clause and “equal protection” clause. Students learned about substantive due process and the rights formed from interpretations of the “due process” clause (privacy; procreation; marriage; private, consensual adult sexual relationships; and abortion). We also began an evaluation of civil rights with a focus on discrimination and the “equal protection clause.” Additionally, students watched documentaries on religious freedom and school integration. Documentaries watched this week included: “First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty” by PBS and “Frontline – Separate and Unequal” by PBS. Cases discussed this week included: Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Skinner v. Oklahoma, Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education (I and II), Grutter v. Bolinger, Fisher v. Texas (I and II), etc.


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:

Freshman Composition (Ms. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

On Monday of week three, the composition classes read story beginnings and practiced writing an original descriptive beginning, The next day they read “The Lady or the Tiger” and wrote their own endings. On Wednesday they volunteered to share their endings with the class, then they wrote apostrophe poems to subjects of their choice. We found a few examples of apostrophes and they were interested in the form. Thursday was another day of poetry writing. This time the students had to try to create poem using a list of words given to them. They seemed to enjoy trying to make sense out of nonsense. They also tried creating a snapshot of a friend just using words. Friday was freshman fun day.

 

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week was all about rhetoric. We explored rhetorical devices with a fun Quizziz on iPads and through songs. We then reviewed the rhetorical appeals in advertisements. This week’s writing was an argumentative essay due on Friday.

 

Senior Composition (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In Composition III, we discussed how to model plot in fiction, completed a critical analysis of a short story, completed a 100-word story, and read fiction by Amelia Gray, George Saunders, Lydia Davis, ZZ Packer, and Michael Cunningham.

 

Grad English (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In English 002, we discussed key elements of flash fiction and plot, completed in-class creative and academic writing assignments, and read stories by Lorrie Moore, ZZ Packer, and Michael Cunningham.


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 (Susan Nunez, Instructor)

This week, we worked on Taxonomy/classification of organisms. Students read and created their own dichotomous keys to classify fictional monsters and types of beans.

 

 

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 an stimulus control study that varies the reinforcement that rats receive depending on the scent associated with the scent they smell. Each day, half of the rats work in a Skinner box scented with orange, which receives no reinforcement regardless of the number of bar presses. The other half of the rats work in a box with lavender scent and receive reinforcements for bar presses. Our study seeks to determine if the rats will associate the scent with the reinforcement or lack of it. Rats change conditions every day, alternating orange with lavender scent.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This week was devoted to the topic of mental disorders. We began with trying to define mental disorders, referring to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. This publication is the official guide for diagnosing mental disorders. We talked about the image of individuals with mental disorders a dangerous and violent, which is another stereotype that is not as true as people believe’ however, some disorders increase the chance of violence. The weeks’ topics include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.


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. Figures such as Solon and Clisthenes were also introduced. The Persian War was discussed at length including the battles of Marathon and the one at Thermopylae ten years later. 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.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we finished up A Wrinkle in Time, read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People,” along with getting down to business with our Utopia projects. We had great discussions, worked on inflection by reading the O’Connor piece aloud, and overcame a few obstacles by working to perfect our visions of what Utopia is like.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Lauren Howton, Instructor)

This week we began reading 1984 and having discussions in class. Monday we took a quiz on the first chapter and continued reading ~a chapter/day. We had a writing assignment which was to write a journal entry like Winston’s that used Newspeak and tried to imagine what life was like in Airstrip One.

 

Grad Level, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (Ms. Jessica Markstrom)

This week we finished the 1st Amendment rights. The class discussed freedom of the press, defamation, obscenity, and the intersection between technology and speech. Cases covered included: Near v. Minnesota, New York Times v. United States, New York Times v. Sullivan, Hustler v. Falwell, Miller v. California, Brown v. Entertainment merchants Association, Reno v. ACLU, and Ashcroft v. ACLU (I and II). We ended the week with a discussion of the 2nd Amendment with a special focus placed on D.C. v. Heller.


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Two

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 the Short Story. Each day this week we reviewed the elements that make a story good. The 6 traits of effective writing, short story elements-irony, characterization, conflict, theme, symbols and Freytag’s Plot diagram. The weekly assignment was an original short story that demonstrates their knowledge and understanding of the literary elements of fiction.

 

Senior Composition (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In Composition III, we read and discussed craft essays about writing what you know and writing about place. Students completed exercises to help them compose their own poems about home and family. They also read a collection of modern and contemporary poetry and participated in class discussions about what we read. Two original poems were due at the end of the week, and we began discussion flash fiction on Friday. Seniors who chose to write poetry for their senior projects met with me individually to discuss their work.

 

Grad English (Brett Hanley, Instructor)

In English 002, we read and discussed craft essays regarding writing what you know, using images in poetry, writing about place, and writing about family. We also read an array of contemporary poetry and discussed common craft choices contemporary poets make. Students also composed a critical analysis of a poem of their choice and turned in two original poems of their own at the end of the week.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes – Weeks Three and Four

Our older students (9th and 10 graders usually) are called “Grads” here at the Program. That’s a long story for another day but these students take college-level classes in the morning. This summer we are offering English (Creative Writing), Psychology in Film, and Special Topics in Criminal Justice.. Here are reports from Weeks Three and Four for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor):

Week Three: 

We began our poetry workshop this week. Students generally treated one another’s work with respect and made useful and insightful criticisms. My main responsibility in this workshop is to identify how an individual poem is working in or against a certain aesthetic tradition, if the class is unwilling or unable to do so. Otherwise, I sit back and let the students manage the discussion, and so far they have done a good job. On Thursday, we discussed what distinction, if any, exists between art and obscenity. This had the potential to devolve very quickly into hysterics and giggles and attempts on the students’ part to talk about their experiences viewing pornography, but the class did a good job of paying attention and demonstrating maturity. We read through Judge Woolsey’s majority decision in United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses,” which is a landmark obscenity case. On Friday we talked about flash-fiction, its emergence in the digital age, and how the brevity of the form lends itself to either 1) macabre humor or 2) existential meditation. Students have a 500 word response paper due for Monday.

Week Four:

On Monday, the students discussed their homework – a 500 word typewritten response to either Primo Levi’s “A Tranquil Star” or Amelia Gray’s “Date Night.” “A Tranquil Star” is concerned with the limits of language in describing the physical universe. “Date Night” is far more ambiguous and led to a good class debate about whether literary works have to contain “a deeper meaning” or whether they can be read for purely aesthetic or formalist reasons. On Tuesday, we discussed Realism as a literary movement. I lectured briefly about how Realism was a response to Romanticism and attempted to portray “ordinary life” in a way that was sincere and impartial. Then we discussed “The Destructors” by Graham Greene (which I did not realize was the inspiration for the Grad Fruit Drop) and “Are These Actual Miles?” by Raymond Carver. The students noted the plain, unadorned style, the impartial tone, and the lack of abstraction which these works share. On Wednesday, I introduced the concept of metafiction by showing the class a self-referential sketch from a British comedy show. We then talked about metafiction in a historical sense, and I pointed out that texts have been markedly self-referential since antiquity. I also shared with them Paul De Man’s belief that all fiction is metafiction since all fiction is at the very least implicitly concerned with language. As a corollary to metafiction, we also discussed Ars Poetica, poetry which describes poetics. The students read “A Continuity of Parks” by Julio Cortazar as their textual introduction to metafiction. On Thursday, we continued our discussion of metafiction by discussing Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings.” We then transitioned to literary Postmodernism by discussing Donald Barthelme’s “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby.” The class seems to respond well to stories which involve macabre humor. I attribute this to their youth and intelligence.

Special Topics in Criminal Justice (Mrs. Jessica Markstorm, Instructor):

Week Three:

This week focused on problems encountered with police work. Issues such as aggressive patrol and excessive force were discussed. The students were presented with a thorough explanation of the 4th Amendment that included coverage of numerous Supreme Court cases. The exclusionary rule, “plain view” doctrine, and warrantless searches were evaluated.

Week Four:

Students learned the basic requirements of Miranda Rights and the exceptions to those requirements. The roles of the prosecutor, judge, and defense counsel were explored for a criminal case. Jury selection was discussed. A special emphasis was placed on issues regarding bail and plea bargains.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week Three:

During the third week, we finished our examination of perception with a discussion of the difficulties of recovery of vision. We saw scenes from the movie Blink, which is a fictionalized story that involves this topic.

Our main topic for the week was memory. We discussed memory systems, including their limitations and failures. Students saw two movies about memory: Inception and Memento. Inception is about implanting false memories, and Memento is about a person with anterograde amnesia, which is not the typical movie portrayal. Students enjoyed both, and we spent time critiquing the movie version of amnesia, which pretty much no movie does correctly.

Week Four:

We finished our examination of memory with a discussion of the misinformation effect, which is a process that results in false memories. This phenomenon is important for false criminal convictions based on eyewitness testimony as well as many memory failures.

We continued to the topic of sleep, which we discussed mostly in terms of the physiology of the stages of sleep and the brain structures that are activated during the various stages. We talked about the relationship between dreams and the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. No discussion of dreams is complete without Freud’s theory of the symbolic content of dreams, so we talked about that view, but we also considered a physiologically based theory of dreaming called the activation-synthesis theory. We also discussed some of the effects of sleep deprivation.


Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks Four and Five

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks Three and Four.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week Three:

The students chose to write a mystery story this week. I led them through a guided story exercise in order to review the parts of a short story, and practice adding descriptive details to scenes. After sharing their stories and exchanging ideas, the students are writing an original story. They also had more practice correcting run on sentences. Because they are writing stories, I have included practice and a review of quotation marks for dialogue. To break things up a bit, I gave them a poetry assignment just for fun – an eight line (minimum) apostrophe. I hope they have enjoyed the week as much as I have!
Week Four:
Students turned in their original stories, the rubrics, and partner peer review feedback. In order to practice writing from another character’s viewpoint, they wrote a response to the apostrophe poem. The person or thing they wrote to in the first poem had to answer the author. Because students will have to respond to literature or historical pieces, I have assigned several chapters in Socrates, The Man Who Dared to Ask. They will look for answers to the question “what is beauty?” according to Socrates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week Three: 
Each day we begin class with a ten minute quick-write to get the creative juices flowing. We watched a video on, The art of persuasion and learned several different Persuasive writing techniques. Tuesday we discussed feminism and stereotypes associated with the concept. Then we watched a Ted talk- “We should all be Feminists” and then discussed feminism again. Because students had two essays this week one for Humanities and one for Comp I allotted classtime for writing Wednesday. In preparation for next week’s essay we Read aloud a Comparison article “How Modern Like Depletes Gut Microbes” hmwk- Think of something you’d like to compare (ideas, subjects, themes, cultures, etc). And Friday we Read aloud “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston discussed symbolism, authors purpose, character development within the short story.
Week Four: 
Monday- Assigned essay topic: comparison contrast Essays, discussed several organizational types for this type of essay, and possible topics.
Tuesday- Returned last week’s essays, discussed common mistakes. Watched short videos on the following topics: Evaluating sources, connecting your audience through writing, and understanding tone and voice.
Wednesday- Reviewed videos from yesterday, Read aloud three different comparison essays and critiqued each orally discussion style.
Thursday- Students asked for an extension on this week’s essay. I decided to give them until Tuesday to turn in. Students will be allowed to work on and share essays for peer critique in class next week.
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week Three: 

This week we finished up on poetry and started transitioning to fiction.

Week Four: 
This week we worked fiction/prose. Both how to examine short stories from the perspective of craft, as well as how to begin writing fiction. We started by introducing very short stories (one sentence to 200 words) and moved on to discussion a couple of contemporary short stories. Additionally, those students who are choosing to do senior projects in composition received feedback and direction.

Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks Three and Four

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week Three:

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. Figures such as Solon and Clisthenes were also introduced.


The Persian War was discussed at length including the battles of Marathon and the one at Thermopylae ten years later. 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 is history when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

Week Four:

Although it was a short week, we made great headway in Greek philosophy. 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. To introduce Plato, 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.

 

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we continued working on making connections between dystopian societies in literature and civics/government/class/technology issues in contemporary society.

Week Four:

This week we discussed the beginning of Brave New World, as well as upcoming Utopia Projects. Because our plan is to finish the novel by next Thursday we also spent a class time reading. As a reward for working hard this week (and also to attempt to teach them to stop talking OVER each other) we played a game modeled after the 60’s game show Password.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we wrapped up discussing 1984. This included discussing Emmanuel Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, which led to fruitful discussions about the cyclical nature of history, economic theory, and the notion of perpetual war. Admittedly, the class did not enjoy the novel as a whole, though they seem to understand why it remains relevant and why it should be read and discussed. The students sat for an essay exam on the book on Wednesday. While they tell me the exam was challenging and difficult, I expect they are either being modest or attempting to assuage my ego, since I wrote the test questions. It was another good week. Students continue to impress. Next week will begin with a discussion of “The Lottery in Babylon” by Jorge Luis Borges, and I will also distribute copies of our next major text, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Week Four:

Our week began with a discussion of the Jorge Luis Borges story “The Lottery in Babylon.” Borges is a notoriously arcane writer and I’m always a little nervous how well the students will grapple with him, but they did an exemplary job and we had a good discussion about this short story. We then started reading and discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is a novel-of-dystopia in the tradition of 1984 and Brave New World. To my knowledge, The Handmaid’s Tale has never been taught at the Governor’s Program, and with this in mind I’ve asked students to serve in an advisory role and be honest about how much they’re enjoying the reading experience. While I don’t believe that literary fiction has to be wildly entertaining, I also realize that an engaging text is far more instructive than a tedious one. So far, students claim to be enjoying the book, though some of them have minor squabbles about Atwood’s style.