Liberal Studies Course Offerings

English: Major Courses (100-level)

111. Literature and Composition II

Designed for students entering the ninth and tenth grades, this course strives to make students more disciplined, effective writers and more careful, thoughtful readers. Students devote half of their time in and out of class to mastering the skills necessary to write clearly and purposefully; they spend the remainder of their time learning to read and analyze challenging literature.

The writing instruction is designed to enhance students' command of written expression. They learn to compose grammatically sound, controlled sentences by reviewing the principles of grammar, paying particular attention to common sentence faults and to effective coordination and subordination. Concurrently, students are instructed in the fundamentals of paragraph construction: they learn to compose effective topic sentences and to employ a variety of strategies to develop those topic sentences in a unified and coherent fashion. Finally, as they write papers on specific topics, students are systematically exposed to the various stages of the writing process. The course reviews the techniques of brainstorming, organization (outlining and "mapping"), and editing, and it stresses the importance of detail to clear expression. Throughout the session, students prepare a number of papers—paragraphs at the outset and complete essays in the last two weeks—on topics ranging from personal narratives to literary analysis.

Students become more skilled readers by considering a selection of short stories and a novel. Class discussions, focused on the close reading of specific passages, teach the students to read carefully and critically. Their analytical skills become more finely tuned as they learn about the elements of fiction and about specific literary devices. This critical approach is complemented by regular short written exercises in which students learn to express clearly their reactions to what they read.

112. Literature and Composition III

This course, designed for students entering the eleventh and twelfth grades, resembles Literature and Composition II in that it also stresses the development of students' abilities to write clearly and to read critically. However, it is much more ambitious and sophisticated in its approach to both goals.

The course resembles a college seminar in that its focal point is reading and writing about literature. The first two weeks are devoted to a study of the elements of fiction—character, conflict, setting, and theme—as they are developed in several short stories. During the final three weeks, students study a play and a novel. In order to appreciate more fully the possibilities of language, students spend one class per week systematically considering a selection of poems. As they consider this variety of literature, students study various literary devices and are introduced to a variety of critical terms.

Students write in or out of class almost every day. Generally, writing assignments are of two types: short, detailed analyses of passages from the work being studied, and longer paragraphs and essays analyzing a broader idea or element in the work. As students undertake the longer papers, they review such fundamentals of composition as effective topic sentences and thesis statements, unity of expression, and logical transitions between sentences and ideas. And although the course does not include a formal review of grammar, students do discuss common grammatical errors in class and in conferences with their teachers. Evaluation of students' written work is based on its precision of expression, the logic and effectiveness of its organization, and the originality, validity and documentation of its ideas.

Mathematics: Major Courses (100-level)

122. Introduction to Geometry

This course prepares students to take a course in geometry by introducing the more important aspects of the studies of shape and logic. Many of the important properties of geometric figures are studied so that they will be better understood when encountered in the more formal structure of Euclidean proof. These topics include symmetry, angle, length, proportion, and parallelism. The fundamentals of logic and proof are presented to give a foundation in the skills of writing proofs.

123. Introduction to Algebra II

The first half of this course reviews many of the topics of a first course in algebra, including graphing, solution of equations, word problems, fractional expressions, and radicals. The second half of the course expands on these topics and presents some of the new topics of the early chapters of a course in second year algebra. This course is designed to give students greater facility in the skills of algebra by requiring them to work on those techniques which improve with practice.

124. Introduction to Precalculus

Designed for students who have already completed Geometry and Algebra II, this course affords an opportunity to explore many of the functions important to the continued study of mathematics leading up to the calculus. Topics for study may include, but are not limited to, linear, quadratic and polynomial functions; rational functions; exponential and logarithmic functions, and trigonometric functions. There will be an emphasis on in-depth study of the selected topics through applications and models. To that end, a good graphing calculator is a necessity. The Mathematics Department at Taft currently uses the TI-83 Plus.

125. Introduction to Calculus

This course is designed as an introduction to single variable calculus for students who have completed Precalculus. Topics include limits and continuity, basic differentiation techniques, applications of derivatives such as min-max problems, and basic techniques of integration. Most applications will focus on polynomial functions. To that end, a good graphing calculator is a necessity. The Mathematics Department at Taft currently uses the TI-84 Plus.

Science: Major Courses (100-level)

130. Biology

This course is an introduction to the study of modern biology, centering on concepts of evolution, genetics, and cell theory crucial to understanding the development of life and science of biology. This course aims to provide the student with some comprehension of the visible world, with an appreciation of the connections and interrelatedness of all scientific learning. Readings are chosen from a variety of sources; laboratory work, films, and occasional field work are features of the course.

132. Chemistry

This introductory course offers the student the fundamentals of chemistry and an opportunity to analyze modern environmental and biological problems from a chemical perspective. A conceptual understanding of chemistry is taught through lectures, demonstrations, laboratory experiments, and seminar discussions. Students are introduced to the lab reporting process and practice the skill. Readings are chosen from a variety of sources; laboratory work, films, and occasional field work are features of the course.

133. Physics

This is an introductory course in physics that emphasizes conceptual understanding and laboratory experience. Topics covered will include motion, Newton's laws of mechanics, energy and momentum, thermodynamics and the description of gases, and if time permits electricity and magnetism. While conceptual understanding is emphasized, students will also be introduced to a precise, quantitative description of nature with a problem solving approach that uses elementary math skills.

136. Forensic Science

This course introduces students to the principles and practices found in the field of forensic science, which draws from the biological and physical sciences. The course begins by examining the theories and concepts necessary to effectively examine, analyze, and reconstruct a major crime scene. Specifically, the legal issues related to the search and seizure of physical evidence, crime scene documentation techniques, and basic crime scene reconstruction methods will be studied. Students will also study trace evidence and how it is analyzed, compared, interpreted, and used in criminal investigations. Types of trace evidence to be discussed will include glass, paint, hair, fiber, and fingerprints. Case studies of actual crimes and trials will be discussed to illustrate how the science and techniques may be used in the real world.

Foreign Languages: Major Courses (100-level)

140. Introduction to French

This course is designed for a student with little or no experience in French who intends to pursue French at the secondary level. The basic skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking are taught. The students work in the Language Learning Center, a state-of-the-art audio, video, and computer facility.

141. Intermediate French

This course is an intensive review offered to students who have completed one or two years of French, but is flexible in structure and is easily adaptable to the specific needs of those enrolled. The course is designed to improve each student's ability to read, write and converse in French. Depending upon the needs of the student, a first or second year text is used with a variety of supplementary materials.

142. Introduction to Spanish

This course is designed for a student with little or no experience in Spanish who intends to pursue Spanish at the secondary level. The basic skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking are taught. The students work in the Language Learning Center, a state-of-the-art audio, video, and computer facility.

143. Intermediate Spanish

This course is an intensive review of Spanish offered to students who have completed one or two years of the language, but is flexible in structure and is easily adaptable to the specific needs of those enrolled. The course is designed to improve each student's ability to read, write and converse in Spanish. Depending upon the needs of the student, a first or second year text is used with a variety of supplementary materials.

144. English as a Second Language

The ESL Program is divided into different levels. Each student is enrolled in the level most appropriate to his or her abilities. Placement is determined by the SLEP (Secondary Level English Proficiency) test which is administered the first day of the session. Students determined to need more instruction in ESL are placed in a tutorial in addition to the ESL class.

Writing assignments stress organization and grammar. Students write compositions frequently, and they are expected to develop a clear and organized writing style, free of slang and awkward construction.

During the course, students read from a variety of sources. They are exposed to unedited journalistic prose, and at each level students read short stories and a novel. A grammar and vocabulary book supplement the readings. In class, students are required to speak only English.

All ESL students have the option to take the Institutional Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), an unofficial test designed to familiarize the students with the TOEFL exam. Prior to the test, students take practice exercises in class.

Enrollment in the ESL Program is limited. Early application and enrollment are advisable.

145. Introduction to Latin

This course is designed for a student with little or no experience in Latin who intends to pursue Latin at the secondary level. This course provides a foundation in the forms, grammar, and vocabulary of the Latin language and it works so that student can read original passages of Latin prose and poetry. Because the class stresses Latin's influence on English, students gain a heightened understanding of English vocabulary and grammar.

146. Intermediate Latin

This course is an intensive review of Latin offered to students who have completed one or two years of the language, but is flexible in structure and is easily adaptable to the specific needs of those enrolled. After a thorough review of grammatical concepts and vocabulary introduced in first year Latin, students transition to studying increasingly difficult grammatical concepts. Memorization of vocabulary, derivatives, and verb synopses are emphasized as students work to expand their grammatical foundations.

Social Sciences: Major Courses (100-level)

148. Psychology

This course will cover in-depth several major topics in the discipline of psychology. Major emphases will be placed on research methods, the brain and biological bases of behavior, stages of human development, sensation and perception, cognition and consciousness, learning theories, personality theories, and abnormal psychology. Students in this course alternate between learning new material and also applying their knowledge by analyzing case studies, conducting experiments, and completing questionnaires to learn about themselves. This course is designed for high school students and requires advanced reading and critical thinking skills as well as previous experience with biology.

150. Early American History

This course examines the colonization of North America and the foundation of the United States. Students will examine the formation of the thirteen colonies, the American Revolution, the creation of the republic and its formative years. Daily reading assignments are given and emphasis is placed on a collaborative examination of material. Students engage in daily discussions but formal debates and other teaching methods are utilized. Quizzes and tests are some of the evaluation methods, but an emphasis is placed upon construction of historical persuasive essays.

151. 20th Century American History

This course reviews American political, social, and cultural history since the end of World War II. Students will examine specific topics such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Students will also develop historians' skills. Critical reading, evidence-based essay writing, and primary source analysis are emphasized.

152. 20th Century American History - ESL

This course is similar in format to 151., but is designed with ESL students in mind.

Arts: Major Courses (100-level)

160. Studio Art

This course focuses on exploration in the studio. Students with limited experience are welcome, but should expect to be challenged. Students enrolled in the studio art course assemble portfolios through a series of projects that require creative thinking, problem solving, and attention to aesthetics. Innovative studio art projects concentrate on the elements of art and principles of design through drawing, painting, printmaking, assemblage, installation, and even flipbook animation. There is an emphasis on the development of personal style through the exploration of both traditional and non-traditional media and a variety of subject matter. Art history forms the base of many assignments and students are asked to conduct independent research as well. The course includes instruction in framing and matting in preparation for a gallery exhibit at the end of the term.

161. Photography (Traditional and Digital)

This course will combine traditional darkroom wet practices with the digital dry process. Open for enrollment to both beginner and advanced students, this course will address technical and aesthetic aspects of photography. Students will learn to develop black-and-white film and print from negatives. In addition, they will learn the fundamentals of digital image adjustment, including matching the printed output to the image. Picture making values and ideas will be discussed throughout the course. At the end of the summer term, there will be a student art show.

This course requires both a 35mm camera and a digital camera. Enrollment is limited to eight participants.

Instructor: The Taft Summer School is pleased to appoint Yee-Fun Yin as the new Photography instructor. Mr. Yin is an Adjunct Professor of Photography at the Gateway Community College in New Haven, as well as an award-winning practicing artist. He holds a B.A from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Photography from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford. Mr. Yin is a member of the Society of Photographic Educators (SPE), as well as several art councils in the Connecticut area. For more information about Mr. Yin's work, visit www.yeefunyin.com.

162. Clay Workshop

Explore the exciting versatility of clay. Use the power of hands and imagination to create sculptures and pottery. Devoted to personal attention, this course is for the student with no previous experience or for those seeking futher development of hand building, throwing, and glazing skills. Many hand-building methods will be explored: slab, coil, dowel, mold, pinch, trapped air and the use of textures. Basic throwing, as well as more advanced techniques, will also be taught. Students work at their own pace and experimentation and personal goals will be encouraged. Students will be able to combine throwing and hand building techniques to enhance their ability to build more individualized pieces. Various artists will be introduced to inspire creative thinking.

Students will have an opportunity to display their work at a gallery exhibit at the end of the term.

163. Sculpture

Sculpture will cover the basics of three dimensional design.~Students will explore techniques in constructing and creating forms through cardboard, clay, and found objects. Students will practice the steps from drawing and planning, making mock-ups and finally, creating a final project in a variety of media. They will have the opportunity to display/install their final projects for a community art event at the end of Summer School.

English: Minor Courses (200-level)

210. Creative Writing

Creative Writing provides a variety of opportunities for those students with a special interest in and a flair for writing poems, scenes, and stories-that is, for using language for effect. The assignments are technical and sequential, designed to develop talents in both writing and editing.

The students write in class as well as outside. Three major creative pieces are polished to be evaluated by the instructor and the class in group editing sessions. The instructor also holds individual conferences with each participant to help the student form experiences and observations into patterns of images and dialogue. Particular attention is given to vivid characterization, varieties of narrative techniques, and principles of "affective" writing, such as appeal to the senses, objectivity, understatement, ellipses, and pace. This course is open to any student who is reasonably confident with and interested in writing. It will be offered in two sections; one section for younger students and the other for older students.

211. Journalism

Journalism provides a variety of opportunities for those students with an interest in constructing and creating news stories. The assignments are designed to develop talents in both writing and editing, and the students write both in and out of the classroom. The culminating project of a school newspaper will be preceded by a variety of smaller assignments, designed to build confidence and refine technique. The instructor also holds individual conferences with each participant to help the student build clarity of expression. Particular attention is paid to exploring the methods of investigative journalism, including conducting of interviews and research. This course is open to any student who is reasonably confident with and interested in writing. It will be offered in two sections; one section for younger students and the other for older students.

215. Exploring the College Process

As the college process becomes increasingly more complicated, competitive, and faster paced, students must acquire skills and knowledge that they can leverage for success. In this course, students will have the opportunity to explore a myriad of tasks and topics related to the college process. Throughout the summer, students will have done the following: hone their interview skills, have a working knowledge of the various colleges and universities in America, practice preparing for a college fair and a college visit, and have a draft of their personal essay. The class will also include virtual and in-person presentations from experts in the field. By the end of the summer, students will have the prerequisites for a successful and introspective college search.

216. Public Speaking

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic techniques of effective speaking in public.

Foreign Languages: Minor Courses (200-level)

221. Conversational English

This course is for the student whose first language is not English and who wishes to continue practicing his/her English in a more informal, relaxed setting. Emphasis will be on natural expression and the assimilation of useful vocabulary and idioms.

Science: Minor Courses (200-level)

225. Contemporary Environment Issues

This elective introduces students to the scientific issues of the day. Students will examine issues such as global warming, alternative energy sources, and water management. The course will alternate between courses of exploration and research, and debate and discussion of possible solutions. Oral skills, specifically debate or presentations, will be emphasized, as well as researching skills.

226. Introduction to Organic Farming

This course will assist students in understanding the growth and field of agriculture and horticulture. In addition to the class work, students will help with the management of the School's organic vegetable garden.

227. Introduction to Neuroscience

This class provides an interactive introduction to how the brain works. The course will discuss the basic concepts of neural communication, neuroanatomy, sensory and motor systems, sleep and dreaming, emotion, learning and memory, and language, and what alterations lead to addiction, neurological and psychiatric disorders. Students will also participate in frequent lab activities that provide a hands-on learning experience. This course is intended for students with an interest in science and who have had prior exposure to biology.

Arts: Minor Courses (200-level)

231. Introduction to Digital Photography

Introduction to Digital Photography is a fast-paced course designed for students with little experience working behind the digital camera. Across the five week course, students are taught how to operate digital cameras effectively, edit their work within Adobe Photoshop and other editing software, and how to participate in artistic critiques. Students enrolled in this introductory course will create a personal portfolio and exhibit their work at the end of school art show. A digital camera is required for this course.

233. Acting

This is a course for students interested in beginning acting. Topics covered include movement, voice, characterization, and analysis of text. Further, production aspects of make-up, costume and scene making are considered. The school play frequently draws some members from this class for its cast.

234. Introduction to Studio Art

This course focuses on exploration in the studio. Students enrolled in the 200-level studio art course assemble portfolios through a series of projects that require creative thinking, problem solving, and attention to aesthetics. Innovative studio art projects concentrate on the elements and principles of art through a variety of 2 and 3-dimensional art forms. There is an emphasis on the development of personal style through the exploration of both traditional and non-traditional media and a variety of subject matter. The course includes instruction in preparing for a gallery exhibit.

236. Digital Video Production

In this class, students will learn to operate a digital video camera, including how to transfer video to a computer for editing and back to the camera, tape or CD. Students will also learn about different types of shots and angles, and how they can help to convey a story. They will write and storyboard short thematic projects, which they will then shoot, download to a computer, and edit using iMovie. With the iMovie software, they will also add titles, music, voice over and special effects. Finally, students will learn to save their projects in a variety of media formats. This course is designed for students entering grades 9 through 12.

A digital video camera is required for this course.

237. Explorations in Clay

Designed for both beginners and advanced students, this course teaches a variety of hand building techniques, including pinch, coil, and slab work. In addition to hand building, students will be able to spend time working on the potter's wheel to develop techniques with centering, throwing cylinders, and then proceeding into more advanced varieties of bowls and vases. Students will learn how to decorate and glaze their ceramic pieces. The class will be devoted to personal attention and exploration, and personal goals will be encouraged. Students will have an opportunity to display their work at a gallery exhibit at the end of the term.

Social Sciences: Minor Courses (200-level)

241. International Affairs

This course is designed to stimulate students' interest in international relations and foreign policy. As a result of their experiences in the class, they become more astute observers of the international scene and better understand the problems facing the world. Strong emphasis is placed on both the historical background and the realities of the modern world scene. Students are assigned readings and gain considerable experience in utilizing library sources emphasizing a variety of viewpoints. Much attention is given to the development of critical thinking, and a large portion of the course is devoted to activities that promote student involvement.

242. Introduction to American Government

This course is designed to introduce students to the principles that define American government. Understanding the three branches of government and their relationship to the rights of American citizens will be a primary focus. Students will also learn how American government interacts with foreign governments in an ever-changing world. Additional time is spent on understanding how government evolves as culture and the needs of its people change.

247. Introduction to Psychology

This elective course gives an introductory look into several topics in the discipline of psychology. Particular attention will be paid to the brain and biological bases of behavior, personality theories, learning theories, and abnormal psychology. This course is ideal for students with little to no previous exposure to the subject of psychology.

250. The Research Paper

This course is designed to familiarize students with techniques of research in a modern library. After successful completion of this course, students will be able to select and narrow a research topic. They will be able to find and use a variety of resources including reference materials, books, journals, online databases, and the World Wide Web. Students will learn how to evaluate information, particularly information found on the Web. They will also learn strategies for searching the Web to find authoritative information. Lessons will cover how to document sources using an appropriate citation style. These skills will not be developed in isolation; rather through interesting historical and current events topics. The skills learned throughout the course will be applied in a final short research paper.

252. Introduction to Philosophy

This course will approach the topic of philosophy through historical and modern lenses. Students will investigate questions about existence, truth and knowledge, ethics, and the mind and body by reading and discussing philosophical texts, writing analytical arguments, and watching philosophically-inspired films.

Test Preparation: Minor Courses (200-level)

251. Time Management, Organizational, and Test-Taking Strategies

The primary focus of this course is to increase students' academic performance by teaching effective time management, organizational, and test-taking skills. Students will learn how to set goals, make choices, and establish priorities. The course focuses on organizing work space, binders and notebooks, and how to effectively use a daily planner. Training will be provided in the art of taking College Board and achievement tests, including development of speed and reading comprehension. The course will also discuss strategies to minimize social media distractions. Students who are not currently maximizing their academic potential can benefit from this course.

260. Preparing for the SAT Exam: Verbal

This course, taught by Summit Educational Group's expert SAT Verbal instructors, will focus on the academic skills and test-taking strategies required for success on the NEW SAT. Summit will provide students with a program of instruction customized to meet their individual needs and maximize their scoring potential, honing in on subjects such as writing conventions, rhetorical techniques, and many more. Each student receives a NEW SAT course book, official SAT practice tests, and detailed reports to track performance. These reports break down scores into distinct categories, allowing teachers and students to direct learning more efficiently throughout the course. Parents and students will have access to Summit's online portal, which can be used to monitor attendance and homework completion, obtain homework assignments, and review the detailed practice test score reports.

261. Preparing for the SAT Exam: Mathematics

This course, taught by Summit Educational Group's expert SAT Math instructors, will focus on the academic skills and test-taking strategies required for success on the NEW SAT. Summit will provide students with a program of instruction customized to meet their individual needs and maximize their scoring potential, honing in on subjects such as algebraic fluency, building equations from complex word problems, and many more. Each student receives a NEW SAT course book, official SAT practice tests, and detailed reports to track performance. These reports break down scores into distinct categories, allowing teachers and students to direct learning more efficiently throughout the course. Parents and students will have access to Summit's online portal, which can be used to monitor attendance and homework completion, obtain homework assignments, and review the detailed practice test score reports.