Because the new PSAT and Common Core curriculum emphasize interdisciplinary literacy—basically, less vocabulary and more reading and writing—it’s more important than ever for students to develop and maintain strong reading and writing skills. Our PSAT Summer Reading and Writing Labs offer a chance to explore the subjects and themes that will appear on the SAT, engage in focused writing and textual analysis, and build the Common Core skills emphasized in AP Language and Composition. The classes will explore concepts in Reading and Writing on PSAT practice tests, will emphasize analysis of fiction and non-fiction texts, and will develop skills to create and develop written arguments and thesis statements. This class is designed for ambitious incoming 9th or 10th graders who want to work toward achieving AP-level reading and writing skills. These classes do NOT involve weekly timed exams or practice with mathematics concepts.
PSAT Reading and Rhetoric Lab Sessions
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot
Session One: June 21st – July 1st
Just before Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951, doctors trying to ease her pain gave her first Demerol, then morphine, and then, out of desperation injected pure alcohol into her spine—all to no avail. As Henrietta lay dying on her hospital bed, new tumors appearing daily, George Gey, head of tissue culture research at Johns Hopkins, learned over her, saying “Your cells will make you immortal.” Part engrossing tale of biomedical research, part harrowing tale of Henrietta’s and her family’s lives, part inspiring tale of investigative journalism—all these stories will make you stop and think about medicine, ethics, and race in America.
Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen
Session Two: July 5th – July 15th
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” So begins one of the most beloved novels in the English language and Jane Austen’s best-known and most widely adapted work of fiction. The novel opens with the Bennet family receiving news that Bingley, a wealthy bachelor, is moving into the neighborhood. Mr. Darcy, who arrives with his friend Bingley, is initially disdainful of everyone, but eventually falls for Lizzy, our protagonist, and the second of five eligible daughters. The original rom-com, this novel provides rich material for the study of gender, class, and narrative.
Blink (2005) by Malcom Gladwell
Session Three: July 19th – July 29th
How can dozens of art experts be fooled by a statue, while another instantly recognizes it as a fake? How can a fire chief pull his crew out of a burning building moments before they would have been killed—but can’t explain why or how he knew the floor would collapse? Malcolm Gladwell’s fast-paced non-fiction book Blink is an exploration of Cognitive Science, Economics, and Social Psychology, asking, “How is it that some quick decisions are more insightful and accurate than those arrived at by lengthy debate and deliberation?”
Parable of the Sower (1993) by Octavia E. Butler
Session Four: August 2nd – August 12th
Set in an imagined dystopian version of the future where ecological irresponsibility and political upheaval have caused widespread regression in civilization, Butler’s rich and gripping science fiction text tells the story of Lauren Olamina’s journey to help rebuild society. Critically acclaimed for its originality and complexity, Parable of the Sower provides a great jumping-off point for discussions of narrative, point of view, dystopian science fiction, race, class, and gender.