Category: Academics

Weekly Reports – Science – Weeks Three and Four

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

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor)

Week Three

This week we looked at the tools scientists use and they measured and recorded 20 different things. We then used the scientific method to figure out the Sherlock Holmes Mystery of the Dancing Men. We finished up with some activities in which the students performed examples of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion.

Week Four

The freshmen science students learned about the 3 laws of motion with several hands-on activities. First they did the thumping of the index card from underneath several stacked pennies. So far the record is 16 pennies!!! Then they each had the opportunity to ride a hovercraft which demonstrated Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. They also did the ring, bottle and nail activity which showed Newton’s 1st Law of Motion. We finished up the week with a time travel activity dealing with the Big Bang Theory and how motion was involved with that and they saw a seltzer rocket and a common science measuring tool disappear because of density.

 

Sophomore Science (Mr. Justin Higginbotham, Instructor)

Week Three

Students studied the relationship between absorbance and concentration this week. Students developed lab skills in preparing standard solutions and learned how to calibrate and use a colorimeter.

Week Four

Students experienced a few chemical reaction demos this week and were taught how to research and debate science topics.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week Three

During the third week, students worked toward collecting data. Students planning their own studies were required to work on providing a list of the material they will need and writing instructions to participants. 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 Tuesday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats.

All students completed two worksheet assignments to develop that knowledge of correct terminology in science. Science project students turned in additional written work related to the development of their projects.

Week Four

We spent the week in the rat lab collecting data for the class study. As the rats were spending time in the Skinner boxes pressing the lever, I conferenced with students conducting science studies to help them with questions and suggestions for design, instructions, procedure, and materials. Students were moving toward collecting data, and two finished their data collection this week. Others must finish next week.

Students conducting science studies were expected to turn in a rough draft of their reports. Most did, and I gave them feedback on changes that they should make.


Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks One and Two

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks One and Two.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week One:

During the first week, the I required the students to write a letter introducing themselves to me, but they had to include a self portrait with the letter. This assignment allows me to assess their grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and sentence structure skills while learning a little about them as individuals. The class worked on pre-writing techniques in order to generate material for use in later writings. We ended with a “debate” that made it clear that these students have some very strong opinions! I hope they enjoyed the week as much as I did.
Week Two:
The freshman classes had a very good week. They practiced adding elaboration to concrete details in paragraphs they wrote. Next they chose a character from The Odyssey, decided on two outstanding character traits then used his/her actions in the epic to illustrate those traits. The students enjoyed writing poems and haikus and sharing those poems with their classmates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week One: 
We wrote Imaginative Stories with a focus on Plot. Thank you for sharing your kids with me this summer.
Week Two: 
Descriptive essays
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week One: 

This week we discussed class format as well as senior projects. We also discussed the way that ideas can be formed into arguments for the purpose of essay writing, as well as writing about the writing process in craft essays (metacognition). 

Week Two: 
This week we worked on poetry. We spent time looking at a poetry packet made of poems picked out by the students. We talked about formal elements of poems and how these elements impact meaning. The students worked on poems of their own to be submitted the following Monday. 

Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks One and Two

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week One:
On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. I also gave them a cheat sheet of sorts that they can use for their cursive handwriting. I have been tremendously proud of them and have told them that they have better handwriting than my high school students.


Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archeology and art history can help fill in the gaps.


The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. We discussed the Greek hero and what were considered the most desirable traits for a Greek. They agreed that it was different from today’s standards. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

Week Two:

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased, though some of the students might not be. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.


For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. We also looked at history in Hollywood and how the subject fares in the medium of cinema. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta.

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week One:

This week we set foundations for the course, discussed Utopia as an ideal and how that ideal fails when applied in real life. We read some short stories in the genre and discussed matters of justice and morality. We also discussed the historical context of the stories and how literature can serve as the window into studying any one time or period.

Week Two:

This week we worked on more dystopian literature. We finished reading the second part of Fahrenheit 451, as well as two short stories. We discussed some parallels between these “future worlds” and our own. Finally, we continued applying some of the issues regarding equality, freedom, social justice, and civics as we moved forward to begin designing our own utopia.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week One:

Class began in earnest on Tuesday when we discussed dystopia and utopia within the context of the “GPGC Canon.” The students talked about the texts they’ve read during previous summers: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver, and how these books have helped inform their understanding of real-world dictatorships and totalitarian states. As usual, the students are able to discuss grave subjects in a very mature, intelligent, incisive and often humorous manner. On Wednesday, students received their copies of 1984 and we discussed the historical backdrop against which Orwell wrote both 1984 and Animal Farm. We also talked more generally about why speculative dystopian fiction remains so popular in the West. On Thursday, we discussed the first four chapters of 1984. Popular topics from that discussion include the idea of conformity, surveillance, and whether our society, like Oceania’s, has become too desensitized to violence and human suffering (the students say “no”). On Friday, students presented on Donald Barthelme’s “I Bought a Little City.”

Week Two:

The students spent Monday finishing their individual presentations on “I Bought A Little City” by Donald Barthelme. Tuesday through Thursday were devoted to class discussion on 1984. These discussions are going well, although I’ve had to remind the class about providing textual evidence to support their comments about the novel. Recurring topics were the psychosexual development of Winston and Julia, Julia’s hedonism, competing epistemological philosophies and their relevance to a totalitarian state, and the relationship between language and thought. On Friday, we held a show trial or kangaroo court in class. I do this to demonstrate how arbitrary and absurd justice can be in a singleminded, totalitarian state. We tried Bronson Jordan for several heinous crimes, including murdering a Papa John’s delivery man, slapping a fellow student, stealing brain bucks, and using his editorial position on The Thinker to embarrass GPGC teachers. Naturally, he claims to be innocent. We will wrap up our discussion of 1984 next week and the students will sit for an essay exam on 1984 on Thursday or Friday.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes – Weeks One and Two

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 One and Two for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor):

Week One: 

I spent Monday and Tuesday introducing, or re-introducing, myself to students. On Wednesday, I went over the syllabus and I explained my expectations for workshop. We talked a bit about the historiographical relevance of poetry and fiction, i.e. how creative texts form a cohesive alternative to national myths and narratives. I think this was an important discussion to have because hopefully it has disabused students of the belief that this class, because it’s largely craft-centered, will be intellectually or analytically shallow. On Thursday, we read and discussed the rules for writing put forth by several prominent authors in list form. These lists often contradict one another, and illustrate that there are no set rules for writing well. To each his or her own. The following maxim from Jonathan Franzen engendered the most debate: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” I was surprised to learn that many students agree with Franzen. I asked students to compile their own lists on writing well. They shared their lists on Friday and we began talking about poetry. I used William Blake’s “The Tyger” to review certain traditional elements of poetical language: rhyme, meter, lineation, etc. Next week, I’ll give the students a selection of contemporary poetry which challenges these conventions.

Week Two:

The Grad English class began the week by reading the poetry of Russell Edson, specifically “Ape” and “On The Eating of Mice.” Edson is considered the “father of the modern prose poem.” We talked at length about what distinction, if any, exists between prose poetry and micro- or flash fiction. The class readily, perhaps too readily, accepted my thesis that it is a matter of literary marketing, admittedly a jaded outlook but I think a fair one. We then discussed the lyrical and narrative impulses in poetry by reading Pablo Neruda and Kevin Young. I tried to disabuse the students of the belief that the lyrical and narrative impulses are mutually exclusive, although it remains to be seen how successful I was. On Wednesday we began discussing intertextuality and ekphrasis in poetry. On Thursday we discussed the political connotations of poetry, the visual elements of poetry, and I also lectured briefly on the Cento. We concluded the week by discussing how the poetry workshop will run next week, and doing a practice workshop.

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

Week One:

This week was defined by the question “what is criminal justice?” Types of crimes ranging from mala prohibita, mala in se, felonies, misdemeanors, cybercrime, occupational crime, and visible crime were introduced to students. The elements of a crime, including mens rea, were discussed and a Supreme Court case was used to demonstrate statutory crimes, which do not require mens rea. Students debated the merits of the due process criminal model versus the crime control model. The week ended with an evaluation of victimology that included a discussion on who is most likely to be a victim of crime.

Week Two:

This week we discussed basic due process rights. We briefly covered the civil liberties established in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments. Supreme Court cases such as Gideon v. Wainright were used to illustrate incorporation of civil liberties to state governments. Students were introduced to defenses and excuses for committing crimes. Special attention was placed on Louisiana’s insanity excuse requirements. We also discussed basic aspects of policing, requirements of joining the police force, styles of policing, and the different sources of stress for police officers.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week One:

This session’s topic in psychology is Psychology in the Movies, and my goal is to present topics in perception, learning, memory, sleep and dreams, hypnosis, and altered states of consciousness from drugs. I hope to funnel these topics into the question: Is mind control possible? To accomplish the goal of exposing students to these topics in psychology and exploring the possibility of mind control, we will see movies that touch on these topics.

We began with a discussion of the definition of psychology and progressed to the history of psychology and how psychologists consider psychology to be a science. Many people have trouble accepting psychology as a science, partly because they focus on psychologists as therapists and partly because they view psychology as a subject that cannot fit within the rules of science.

To examine the discrepancy between the scientific view and mystical views, I showed the students scenes from the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which presents a clash of views revolving around the death of a young woman, Emily Rose. One view is that Emily suffered from a medical condition; the other view is that Emily was possessed by demons. I wanted students to evaluate the evidence (as depicted in the movie). We will continue with some analysis and discussion next week and then proceed to topics of perception and learning.

Week Two:

This week was devoted to the topic of learning. We began with classical conditioning—Pavlov and the slobbering dogs—and analyzed that process. Then, we discussed the factors of consistency and timing, which affect this process of associative learning. Classical conditioning applies to a number of everyday responses, so we talked about examples from our own lives.

We moved on to the topic of operant conditioning, with the concepts of reinforcement and punishment. Students have some experience of positive reinforcement through the token economy, but we discussed examples and applications of this type of learning.

Students had a written assignment that covered psychology as a science and classical and operant conditioning.

Students saw the movie The Matrix to introduce the topic of perception, and we began a discussion of how tied we all are to our sensory and perceptual limitations.


Weekly Reports – Science – Weeks One and Two

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

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor)

Week One

The freshmen science students learned about the nature of science by working together and alone to experience inductive and deductive reasoning, the need for motivation to do science, generating data, collecting data, interpreting the data, the importance of communication of this data, and respect for others especially in their findings. These things were accomplished through the historical studies of Thales, Democritus, Ptolemy, Galileo, and Newton. The students discovered patterns in activities and drew conclusions from these patterns. They were exposed to the wrong conclusions (logical fallacies) just as Ptolemy was. They were tested on the scientific method.

Week Two

The freshmen science students learned about how people can be mistaken so easily by completing the Dragon Illusion. We also discussed the 3 laws of motion and we did a ‘Story with Holes.’ The week ended by us going into Starlab Planetarium for 2 days and we looked at constellations, Greek Mythology, colors of stars and temperature, how to read star maps, the living cell, faults and ridges of the planet earth, the continents of the globe, and Native American constellations. Take a look at the pictures below.

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Sophomore Science (Mr. Justin Higginbotham, Instructor)

Week One

All of the students were very productive and attentive this week! We investigated some chemical properties of various metals and used a flame test to observe the color of these metals in an excited state. Students worked in groups to design an experiment and identify unknown metal compounds. Students then prepared formal lab reports and use peer review techniques to critique lab reports.

Week Two

Students investigated the effectiveness of various antacid tablets and participated in the peer review process of lab reports.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week One

For the Seniors, Week 1 was devoted to choosing the area in which they plan to complete their senior projects and forming plans to proceed. The first day of class was devoted to exploration of students’ ideas for science projects and my evaluation of how feasible those ideas were. (Similar discussions occurred for other areas.) Six of twelve students chose science projects, and all have feasible ideas that they are working to develop.

The students also completed a pre-test to allow me to know the status of their science knowledge and to assess their progress at the end of the session. Lecture and class discussion will cover material on this test to allow students to develop their understanding of terminology in science as well as the processes involved in conducting research.

We split the week with lectures and discussions of terminology and history of science and developing the ideas for senior projects. One part of that development involved developing a background, and I found a background study that relates to each of the projects to get students started in understanding past research on their topics. Another way in which students progressed with projects was writing a brief description of the proposed study.

Week Two

Week 2 was devoted to covering background in science to bring all students to a correct usage of terminology and to explore various research methods. We discussed the history of science, from beginning to the present, then reviewed the scientific method, talked about descriptive research methods, and finished with experimental methods. I presented the challenges and advantages of various choices, tying the discussion to students’ projects to give them suggestions about developing their studies. Students completed a worksheet for a grade, and everyone did well. I handed out a second worksheet that is due on Monday.

On Friday, we visited the McNeese Animal Behavior Lab (rat lab) to introduce students to the equipment and procedure for collecting data in this setting.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes

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 International Relations. Here are reports from Weeks One and Two for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Thomas Parrie, Instructor):

Week One: 

This week we began the poetry unit by talking about how to “turn something on its head.” The “theme” for the class is an attempt to “make the familiar new again.” I’ve been giving them poems published by acclaimed poets and we’ve been discussing them with an eye for craft as well as vision. They’ve also been writing poems in class based off of a prompt in which they take an image that is ordinary and they give it meaning that is unique to them. Next week we’ll begin workshopping their original poems.

Week Two:

This week we read and discussed several poems from a diverse group of poets. They turned in two original poems for workshop. They analyzed and critiqued the poems by looking at content and craft with an eye on how to implement the most impressive elements into their own works. We also focused on social justice and what it means today in the world as well as in 21st century America. We also explored poems that are more cerebral and poems that are light hearted, yet are thought provoking or makes commentary on the human experience in the modern world.

International Relations (Mrs. Jessica Markstorm, Instructor):

Week One:

Students were introduced to basic concepts of International Relations such as power, purpose, and institutions. Basic types of actors were discussed and students were able to provide common examples of each type of actor. Students were able to take theories and international law on the recognition of statehood and apply it to modern issues (i.e., Palestine). A brief explanation of world history occurred with a focus on sovereignty, imperialism, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, mutually assured destruction, and decolonialism. At the end of the week students were assigned hypothetical countries in which they decided their government regime type and began interacting with each other to simulate a world environment.

Week Two:

Students were introduced to paradigms and theories this week. The major prevailing paradigms of international relations, realism and liberalism, were explained with in-class activities, historical examples, current event examples, a short movie celebrating the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Organization, a short movie on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, and scenes from the movie “Mean Girls.” In addition to discussing the major assumptions of each paradigm, hegemonic stability theory, balance of power theory, complex interdependence theory, and liberal institutionalism were all incorporated into the class lectures.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week One:

The topic of this year’s Psychology class is “Psychology Through the Movies,” which will consist of an examination of a selection of topics within psychology illustrated (sometimes inaccurately) in movies. The areas revolve around social psychology, Freudian theory, mental disorders, and treatment of mental disorders.

 

We discussed images of psychology and how strongly media depictions of psychology influence those images—which focus on psychology as treatment—lead to distorted images of psychology. Students’ most prominent image of psychology resembled Sigmund Freud, whom we discussed briefly; I pointed out that Freud was important to developing the notion of talk-based treatment, but he was a neurologist, not a psychologist.

We explored the professions of clinical psychology and psychiatry, comparing and contrasting the two professions in terms of background and training, theoretical orientations to treatment, and employment. We briefly discussed how one of the traditional differences—prescription privileges—is no longer restricted to MDs in some states. We also discussed the many degrees that confer the title of Dr. on recipients and how MDs are not the only profession that should be addressed with that title.

 

We extended our discussion of mental health care professions by covering counseling (both school counseling and licensed professional counselors) and social work, detailing the background and training for these professions. I presented the definition of psychology, which says that psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes, not the study of the mind. We discussed some of the challenges and misconceptions of psychology as a science.

 

We began considering the many areas of psychology that are not related to treatment, most of which fall into the research areas, including social psychology.

Week Two:

We discussed the social psychology point of view (to which the kids showed some initial skepticism). That view holds that people are more affected by their social surroundings than by personality factors. As an example of how powerful surrounding are, I had chosen the Stanford Prison study. We saw scenes from the movie, The Experiment, which is a fictionalized (sensationalized) presentation of this study.

We continued our discussion about the Stanford Prison Study and saw additional scenes from The Experiment. The focus was on the ethics of the experiment, and I asked students to identify differences between the movie and the study. This line of questioning led us to the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines on the Protection of Human Subjects (HHS Title 45, Part 46), which was not in effect at the time of the Stanford Prison Study but which Zimbardo followed in terms of informed consent and right to withdraw. The portrayal the study in The Experiment contained many violations of research ethics, which we discussed.

 

We discussed Asch’s study on conformity, including a class re-enactment (which we all enjoyed) and a video clip from Candid Camera showing the power of others’ behavior to provoke conformity, even without a word spoken. I asked a question about using this powerful force to encourage good behavior rather than bad, which resulted in an interesting discussion.

 

Students saw 12 Angry Men and came to class ready to discuss the group processes in the movies, which seemed to include a situation similar to Asch’s conformity study. However, the jury situation includes persuasion, and we discussed some of the factors that contribute to group decision making, such as group polarization (the tendency for groups to adopt more extreme solutions than individuals would). We talked about what would increase this phenomenon and what might decrease it in government and business settings.


Weekly Reports – Composition

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks One and Two.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week One:

The students wrote letters introducing themselves to me.  They were free to tell me whatever they thought was important and interesting about themselves. The letters were great and very creative.  They also made a list of their favorite books and wrote reviews for their top three.  Each day the students wrote a journal entry which provided practice for a writing technique.One of the techniques the students enjoyed was the cubing exercise.  They used a paper clip to practice the six ways of writing about a subject or object. They really liked arguing for or against paper clips – or maybe they just enjoyed arguing!
Week Two:
This week the goal was to have the students use various sources as inspiration for compositions  The class used their journals as a brainstorming source in order to develop a personal narrative. They read a translation of Plato’s “ Death of Socrates” and short biography about the life of Socrates which they used to write a short description of his trial.  Next, they practiced varying their sentence structure by imitating examples of sentences by various famous authors.
Sophomore Composition (Ms. Talisha Shelly, Instructor)
Week One: 
In week one, a combination of lecture/discussion/workshop teaching style was employed. To start the week, we worked on familiarizing (or refamiliarizing) ourselves with the writing process, and students wrote down their goals and intentions for the class (which will be revisited during the final week of class). On Tuesday I lectured about the various components of an essay, and on Wednesday and Thursday we discussed the importance of imagination to the writing process (research, prewriting, drafting, editing, revision). Poems by Shel Silvertein were read aloud, along with a short story called “Zolaria” by Caitlin Horrocks–which featured basilisks, space dolphins and other mystical creatures–to demonstrate imaginative writing. For homework, the students wrote their own imaginative stories, and presented them in class; I pointed out the importance of reading aloud, audience awareness and the similarities between essay and story writing.
Week Two: 
During week two, a combination of lecture and discussion teaching style was employed. To start the week, we read and discussed a handout (“Choosing a Topic for Your Essay”); for homework, students were assigned to come up with their own topics for the first essay assignment (Descriptive Essay), based on their personal interests and the world around them. On Monday, students were provided with guidelines for writing the essay. Poems by Shel Silverstein, Robert Hayden and Joy Harjo were also read to demonstrate the components of good descriptive writing.On Tuesday, students worked on prewriting and drafting in class; students were to finish writing rough drafts for homework. On Wednesday, I lectured briefly about common errors in essay writing (word choice, point of view, tone/audience awareness, etc.), then students conducted peer reviews in pairs and worked on corrections. For homework, students completed final drafts of their Descriptive Essays. On Thursday, we read an article (“How Modern Life Depletes Our Gut Microbes”) and began discussing the next essay assignment (Comparative Essay). For homework, students were asked to brainstorm topics for the Comparative Essay assignment.
Senior Composition (Ms. Kristina McBride, Instructor)
Week One: 

The first week of the summer, the class picked up from where they left off at the end of last summer. After taking time in the first two days of class to reacquaint ourselves and decide on focus for senior projects, we discussed the poetry presentations that will be due near the end of the summer. Each student will choose a style, form, or movement of poetry to research and teach. The class then spent time reviewing paragraph and essay structure before working on the first writing assignment, a persuasive essay speaking from the perspective of a holiday’s mascot persuading another holiday’s mascot of their superiority. On Thursday the class debated on which of the class chosen holidays is more important or significant. Friday will be spent working on some in class writing as a way to distinguish between favorite and best through the righting of movie reviews.

Week Two: 
On Monday the class discussed the movie reviews they wrote on Friday, and we created a criteria for a universally good movie. After that discussion we applied that idea to what a good essay should look like, creating a rubric for their persuasive essay they had written and brought to class. After the discussion, the class switched essays and completed peer reviews, focusing on constructive criticism. Monday night’s homework was to read a short essay by Ray Bradbury titled “Just this Side of Byzantium” that was included in his introduction to his novel Dandelion Wine. On Tuesday we discussed Bradbury’s essay and his method for writing. We also discussed how despite how little life experience one may have, everyone has a story to tell that is both universal and personal. We then read a chapter of Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird titled “Short Assignments.” We looked at ways to tackle writing and life challenges by taking them on a little piece at a time, or “bird by bird.” We talked about Lamott’s idea of using a one inch picture frame as a reminder that you only need to focus on a small section of an idea at a time in order to complete a project, whether it be a writing assignment or a life goal. On Wednesday the class created their own one inch picture frames and decorated them. Thursday was spent beginning reading “The Thing in the Forest” by A. S. Byatt. On Friday the class used their one inch picture frames to look at the world around them to write a story that would fit within the one inch frame.

Weekly Reports – Humanities

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week One:

On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on\ etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archaeology and art history can help fill in the gaps. The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. We discussed the Greek hero and what were considered the most desirable traits for a Greek. They agreed that it was different from today’s standards. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

Week Two:

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.

For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. We also looked at history in Hollywood and how the subject fares in the medium of cinema. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta. They had plenty to say on the subject.

Humanities Two (Mr. Thomas Parrie, Instructor)

Week One:

We began the week with a discussion on what a utopian society is. Additionally, we discussed dystopias and the relationship between the two societal extremes. We read three short stories, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” by Ray Bradbury, “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson. We discussed the types of societies and governmental structures in the stories. We talked about utopian/dystopian societies in history. I also taught them literary terms such as “foreshadowing” and “through line.” Next on our reading list is Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury.

Week Two:

This week we delved further into Fahrenheit 451 and discussed themes of alienation and disillusion, as well the effects of propaganda and mob mentality. We questioned the motives of the main characters and speculated what happened in the past and what might happen in the future in the novel’s world. We did some comparative analysis between “Soft Rains” and 451 as both were written by Bradbury. I asked them to pick one sentence or phrase in the novel that felt or seemed most poetic and to write it on the board, after which we had a poem that complemented the novel. Next week, I’m assigning to write a one to one half page response to the book in which they explain what they think. We will also begin Lord of the Flies.

Humanities II

Bronson Jordan ready to leap into a discussion during Humanities II.

 

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week One:

Generally, the students have been wonderful. They are certainly engaged in the class and have insightful comments to make about the texts we’ve been reading. We’re 100 pages into 1984.  We also read Donald Barthelme’s “I Bought a Little City”, which deals prominently with themes of tyranny, dystopia, and megalomania, though in a far less explicit (and arguably more artful) way than 1984. On Friday, they all presented on “I Bought a Little City.” Since this story is a bit more mature and ambiguous, I was a little concerned with how fully the students would understand it. However, almost all of the students were able to connect the story to 1984’s salient themes, as well as the class’s larger focus on utopia and dystopia. I am extremely impressed with the level of thought and self-expression the students have shown, both in these presentations and throughout the week during class discussions. Next week, the students will finish reading and discussing 1984, read, discuss and give presentations on Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Babylon Lottery”, and conduct a Kangaroo Court/Show Trial (postponed due to time).

Week Two:

During the second week of Humanities III, the class continued their lively discussion of dystopia.  The week began with a Kangaroo Court in which the class made false accusations against a single student, who happily volunteered to be put on trial. The point of this exercise was to imitate the arbitrary and illogical nature of judicial proceedings in failed states and dystopias. The class seemed to enjoy it and we will have at least one more Kangaroo Court during the semester. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday continuing to discuss 1984 and comparing the world it depicts to other ‘real life’ and literary dystopias. I am impressed with the class’s grasp of history. Several students confidently compared elements from the novel to Ancient Sparta, Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and the North Korea of the present. On Friday, students gave short, individual presentations on the Jorge Luis Borges short story “The Babylon Lottery.” Borges is a complex, highly erudite writer who is concerned with metaphysics, and I was slightly nervous as to how well this story would be understood. However, based on their presentations, the students seemed to fully comprehend the story and its relevance to our ongoing discussion about dystopia. Ultimately, this is a discussion centered course, or literary seminar, and it is largely the students’ onus to provide for a stable, civil, and earnest intellectual environment. So far, they’ve exceeded all expectations.  


Weekly Reports – Science

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

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor):

Week One:

The freshmen science students learned about the nature of science by working together and alone to experience inductive and deductive reasoning, the need for motivation to do science, generating data, collecting data, interpreting the data, the importance of communication of this data, and respect for others especially in their findings.

These things were accomplished through the historical studies of Thales, Democritus, Ptolemy, Galileo, and Newton.  The students discovered patterns in activities and drew conclusions from these patterns.  They were exposed to the wrong conclusions (logical fallacies) just as Ptolemy was.  They were tested on the scientific method.

Week Two:

This week was very busy.  I got to know the students better and they are wonderful.  They had to measure many things showing me they knew how to use the instruments of science.  We had rulers, meter sticks, tape measures, thermometers, triple-beam balances, stop watches, protractors, etc.  We finished up with the Starlab Planetarium.  They looked at constellations, colors and temperature of stars, longitude, latitude, plates, volcanoes, Native American Indian constellations, animal cell, cell reproduction, and how color effects our eyes.  Friday we have class competition.  Below are some pictures with the students and the Starlab Planetarium.

Students in front of the Starlab.

Students in front of the Starlab.

Students in front of the Starlab.

Students in front of the Starlab.

Inside the Starlab.

Inside the Starlab.

Mr. Newman leading the journey through the Starlab.

Mr. Newman leading the journey through the Starlab.

Sophomore Science (Mr. Bill Guillotte, Instructor)

Week One: 

We began our journey through the Scientific Method by preparing ourselves for safety in the lab. We watched a college chemistry lab tutorial and took notes on proper lab safety procedures, proper lab apparel, and steps to take if there is an emergency.

We continued our journey by trying to build a free standing paper tower using only 1 piece of copy paper and scissors(the tallest I have ever seen is 1.05 meters). We discussed different ideas, had many different thoughts, and lots of trials, but the tallest tower was only about 60 cm. The students didn’t realize they were using  the steps of the scientific method. We then had a discussion on the steps of the scientific method that we would be using for this class.

The next step in our journey found us using the steps of the scientific method to discover which color M&M occurs most in an individual size bag of M&M’s. Sophomore II found that the green M&M occurs most often, while Sophomore I found that blue occurred the most. Then the students ate their M&M’s. (Science can be delicious)

The next step in our journey was to discover how many drops of water would fit on the heads side of a penny. Students worked through the procedures for a total of 10 trials and recorded their data in a chart. They then used their data chart to create a graph displaying their findings. One group was able to get an average of 25 drops of water to fit on the penny. (Most of our students made an hypothesis of 3-5 drops)

We also used some time this week to transplant our tomato plants and lay the foundation for our “Tomato Plant Growth” project. We will be using plant food for our independent variable in our attempt to find a way to make tomato plants grow taller.

Week Two:

Our journey this week in Science 2 took us into the world of aerodynamics, density, and air pressure. The students hypothesized on how they could create an airplane that could fly farther. They tested their hypothesis and we had some very creative modifications. As it is with science, some worked and some did not.

We used our scientific method to discover the world of density and buoyancy. A regular egg will not float in water because the egg is more dense than the water. We hypothesized different ways to change the density of the water and discovered by adding 35g of salt per Milli-liter of water we could make the egg float.

Lastly this week, we used only air pressure to crush an aluminum can. By heating 50ml of water in the bottom of the can until it boils and then turning the can upside down in a container of ice cold water, we were able to crush the aluminum can by lowering the air pressure inside the can.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week One:

Week one of Senior Science was a reintroduction for many of the students to some of the basics of research design. With the combination of reviewing the material on the pretest and developing science projects; the two go together well. We discussed elements of the experimental method, including the concepts of independent variable (IV) and dependent variable (DV) and the necessity of control. I led students who have decided on science projects to evaluate if their study was an experiment, and if so, to identify their independent variable. Some students could do so, and others had not analyzed their study well enough to distinguish their general procedure from the specific elements of IV and DV. Working toward making this abstract information concrete and personal is an important step for students in this class, and we will work on it more.

Also during week one the class was split into two sections – one that are doing science projects and one that will do a group project (as they are doing either Humanities or Composition as their senior projects). The group project section spent most of the week talking about the history of science, including how the limits on access to education as well as social attitudes restricted science throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. We also explored the impact of the development of science on people’s lives, focusing on the areas of physiology and medicine.

Week Two:

Project students started to turn in project proposals and discuss their suitability for the constraints we have during the summer. Both classes discussed the underlying principles of science and proceeded to cover the various types of descriptive research and then experimental designs. One student conducting a science project is doing a survey, one of the descriptive designs, and several others are conducting experiments. My focus for the first part of the week was to lead the students conducting studies to understand how their studies match the various designs we are discussing. That is, we are trying to integrate the abstract information about science and research designs into the activities they are performing.

We ended the week with our first visit to the rat lab. In contrast to stereotypes, laboratory rats are cute, furry creatures that GPGC students are anxious to hold. So the visit to the rat lab involved some one-on-one rat-giftie contact, with no harm to either.

Three students are working on science projects in the rat lab, and students conducting studies on other topics will have the opportunity to participate in a rat study. Love those rats!

 


Classes, Schedules, Meetings, and Rain

The first few days of the Program have gone pretty well considering the controlled chaos that is necessary at the beginning of our endeavor. The students have now had two days of their academic (morning classes) and are starting to get reading and writing assignments in them.

Yesterday they had a selection meeting for their afternoon classes – all of the afternoon faculty talked about the different classes that are being offered this summer and invited the students to ask questions and select their classes. After that meeting the rest of the afternoon was given over to auditions for the chorus, musical, and drama.

The first few days are chock full of meetings. In addition to the one mentioned above, there’s an orientation meeting the first night (Sunday) in which the rules of student life are gone over, pressing questions are answered, and the housing staff is introduced. Then, Monday night, there is a meeting about the sign-out procedures as well as a meeting about the GPGC Government where the students are introduced to the concept of the functioning, responsible government here at the GPGC as well as the consequences that may happen if the government ceases to be responsible and fails to function properly.

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Mr. Brown explains what will happen if the Government fails to meet its obligations.

We’re pretty much done with the large meetings now – the students are ready to begin settling in to their summer routines. Today they went to their afternoon classes for the first time and will be able to change classes for the next few days if they’d like something different.

We also have experienced our first drenching – we thought we had made it without getting the students wet while they changed classes in the afternoon but right after dinner the skies opened and those students not prepared with rain gear got pretty wet. Please send in raincoats, umbrellas, etc. – unless it’s storming we have the students walk from class to class and they really need proper gear.