Young Scholars Course Offerings

English: Major Courses (100-level)

110. Literature and Composition I

Intended for students entering the seventh and eighth grades, this course focuses on building fundamental reading and writing skills. Most classes combine a consideration of the principles of clear written expression with the close, critical reading of narrative and dramatic fiction. A review of grammatical principles lays the foundation for studying expression at the level of the sentence, and particular attention is paid to effective use of coordination and subordination and to correcting common sentence faults. Concurrently, students learn to write focused, purposefully developed expository paragraphs, and during the last week, they compose a complete essay. Significant time is spent approaching systematically the various steps of the writing process, including brainstorming to generate ideas, selecting appropriate organizational strategies, outlining, and revising and editing a rough draft in order to produce a polished expression.

Students read a selection of short stories and either a short novel or a play. Seminar-style class discussions stress the critical approach to literature; in these discussions students learn about the elements of fiction as they learn to read closely and carefully. To complement this endeavor, students regularly write short paragraphs in which they closely analyze passages from the reading. Those who take this course can expect to enter the ninth grade having become more disciplined and more confident readers and writers.

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.

Mathematics: Major Courses (100-level)

120. Pre-Algebra

The Pre-Algebra course is designed to prepare students for an elementary algebra course by reinforcing the skills necessary for success in secondary school mathematics. In addition to an intensive review, the course previews topics from Algebra I, including operations with numbers and variables, powers and exponents, order of operation and solutions of first degree equations. Other topics will be included as time permits.

121. Introduction to Algebra

This course is designed for those who need to strengthen their command of numerical techniques, arithmetic, and number systems before beginning a formal study of algebra. Some of the most important topics from a first course in algebra are also introduced to give the student a firm foundation for later work. Linear equations and word problems are studied to give training in the skills needed for a thorough understanding of algebra.

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.

131. Physical Science

The Physical Science program is designed to integrate both introductory chemistry and physics fundamentals into a five-week class that will enable the student to have a solid grasp of beginning topics. The material covered will include a crash course into math basics such as scientific notation, significant figures, and the use of exponents. Other topics are Atomic Theory and Structure, Thermodynamics, Electrostatics, Enthalphy changes in Chemical Reactions, Nomenclature, and Reaction Types. The course will stress the interaction of matter on the atomic and molecular levels and as we look into the structure of the atom and how the subatomic particles interact within the atom and between molecules.

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.

History: Major Courses (100-level)

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.

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.

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)

243. Current Events

In this course, students will have the opportunity to discuss, read and write about current events. These issues will stimulate interest and enhance awareness of the world around us. Students will be required to study newspapers and periodicals and to participate in all class discussions.

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.

Test Preparation: Minor Courses (200-level)

239. Testing, Reading, and Study Skills - ESL

This course is similar to 240, with the difference that it is designed to meet the needs of students in the ESL program.

240. Testing, Reading and Study Skills

This course is designed for students who wish to develop greater reading comprehension, improve their reading speed, and increase their vocabulary. Techniques, which can help students use their study time more effectively, are also taught. Vocabulary development is accomplished by the study of prefixes, roots, and suffixes and by teaching students how to use context clues. Students are also taught how to develop greater skill in writing coherent paragraphs. There is training in the art of taking college board SATs and achievement tests, and there is also frequent practice in reading articles for development of both speed and comprehension. Students with a wide range of abilities can benefit from this course.

248. Preparing for the SSAT Exam: Verbal

This course, taught by Summit Educational Groups expert SSAT Verbal instructors, will focus on test-taking strategies and academic skills in reading, synonyms, analogies, and essay writing. Summit will provide each student with a program of instruction customized to meet their individual needs and maximize their scoring potential. As part of the course, each student receives an SSAT course book and practice tests. Parents and students will receive access to Summits online portal, which can be used to monitor student attendance and homework completion, obtain homework assignments, and review detailed practice test score reports.

249. Preparing for the SSAT Exam: Mathematics

Staffed by an SSAT Math expert from Summit Educational Group, this course will focus on the test-taking and academic skills necessary to maximize scores on the SSAT. Because each student truly learns differently, Summit customizes instruction to meet the needs of individual students. As part of the course, each student receives an SSAT course book, practice tests, and vocabulary flashcards. Parents and students will receive access to Summits online portal, which can be used to monitor student attendance and homework completion, obtain homework assignments, and review detailed practice test score reports.