The Potomac Highlands School of Water Resources

Environmental Forum Teacher Updates


Current eForum: Oh Deer!  Monday, October 22 to Friday, November 16, 2007

Last Updated November 12, 2007

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Our Challenge

Why we ask for Control Codes on forms

When the eForums conclude . . .

new 11/5/07 Change to Thoughtful Questions Form.

eForum Lesson Plan (you can also reach lesson plans through the Teacher's Room)

Teacher Tips

Teachers and schools participating in Oh Deer! as of October 8, 2007

Emails to teachers for Oh Deer! 2007:


Our challenge.  Cacapon Institute's challenge in conducting Environmental Forums and other Potomac Highlands Watershed School activities is to provide a setting where the content is highly relevant to the required curriculum, where everything a teacher needs can be readily found, and where everything works.  Making everything work can be more difficult than it appears, because every school system installs filters on their computer networks to both prevent students from accessing inappropriate material, and to prevent harm to their computer system from accidental downloading of malicious software (viruses, spyware,  malware, etc.).  Because every school system, possibly even every school, does this differently, it is our challenge to develop content and processes that work everywhere.  For example, we do not have a "user name/password" system (the flash activities have a "visitor's" bypass), we do not post streaming video (although we would love to), and we take care that eForum activities do not "feel" like a chat room to school filters that would then kick them off.


How subtle can the problems be?  Pretty subtle.  For example, the original file names for our Flash activities (like Stream Cleaner) included the word "game."  Some systems (one in a Missouri library, one in a WV school system) had filters that automatically kicked a user who tried to access these activities off  the web because of the word "game."  We learned of the problem because people told us about it.


If you need something that you can't find, or if something doesn't work for you, we won't know unless you tell us.  So, please, let us know – and we will do everything in our power to fix it. 


Why we ask for the "Control Code" on forms?   We do this to prevent mischief by students and by "unauthorized" users.  The potential for mischief is vast, and one of our jobs is to make sure that none of it makes its way to your school computer screens.  For example, the control code should "help deter any temptation students might have to toy with the survey (for example sign on as a different school and answer all the questions “wrong”). "  We also read every submittal before manually posting it on the website.  With numerous classes participating, that will keep us plenty busy during the Thoughtful Questions period. 


When the eForums conclude, we'll ask participating teachers to fill out a short survey to help us know what went right, what could use improvement, and how the experience impacted your view of the use of computers in the classroom.  We'll also schedule a time for a conference call where we can all just informally talk about it.   For example, a conference call following our 2006 Oh Deer! eForum led to a number of significant changes to the time frame and to the POV page format.   


Change to Thoughtful Questions Form.  We simplified the Thoughtful Questions form on 11/4/2007.  Hopefully, students will have less trouble understanding what to do now.  However, it would not be a bad idea for teachers to run through it with their students one time - there are six steps and they need to get them right.   


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Teachers and Schools participating in the Oh Deer! 2007 as of October 8, 2007


Teacher State School Course Taught
William Moore WV Hampshire High School Environmental Science
Denise Gipson WV Jefferson High School 9th Grade General Science 
Laura O'Leary MD North Harford High School Environmental Science
Gene Lescallette MD Eckhart Alternative Environmental Science
Susan  Lowery MD Clear Spring Vocational Agriculture
Susan Settle VA Rappahannock High School Environmental Science
Sharon Harman WV Petersburg High School Biology
Arthur Halterman WV East Hardy High School Other
Rosalea Riley VA Buffalo Gap High School Vocational Agriculture




Emails to Participating Teachers 


September 21, 2007 from Frank

Welcome Gene Lescallette and Terrie Shank to the eForum teachers club.  Welcome back Bill, Laura, and Denise.

This is the first of the 2007 periodic emails.  While we’ve made some changes to the web site the best way to enter the eForum is still through our home site and follow the e-school tab and then click on the door of your choice.  In the high school is a phone that opens Oh Deer! eForum in the fall and the SCE Forum in the spring.  From the Teachers’ Lounge use the “eForum Updates” to see who is signed up and to access a lesson plan or review the teacher tips.  (move between classrooms or back to the home page via links at bottom left of each room.)

Back on the home page you will be interested in PHLOW – Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds.  We have resources for students who want to take the extra step of doing a hands-on watershed conservation research or demonstration project.  (Laura, what should we call the Susquehanna Leaders Of Watershed?)

We’re looking forward to a new discussion and are preparing the pre/post survey now.  We’ll be in touch soon.



October 21, 2007 from Frank

Monday, October 22, 2007, is the kick off for the 3rd Annual Oh Deer! Environmental Forum and we have more schools signed up then ever including MD, VA, and WV.  We’re still hoping for some PA participants.  This isn’t just for science classes.  Social studies can use the material to model the democratic process, an English class can practice persuasive writing, or a math or economics class could crunch numbers on the impacts of deer.  More than one class from your school is welcome.  If you know anyone looking for a dynamic inter-school challenge send them to to click on the phone or Info & Sign Up page and join us.

Please ask the students to do the survey first.  The best way for students to enter the eForum is at then click on the Potomac Highlands Watershed School (image bottom right of our home page).  Click on the high school door and the phone inside the classroom.  The survey link will be evident.  It should only take 5-10 minutes to complete the multiple choice questionnaire.  Advise the students they are not expected to know all the answers and will not be graded.  We will inform teachers of the results within a couple days of the class signing on.  We can not identify individual students but the time period when the survey arrives helps us identify which of your classes submitted.  (We can generally weed out bogus submissions from students who intentionally submit under the wrong school name.)

If you have more than one class participating please let us know if you want the tally together or individual classes broken out.  

All the reading material and links to additional information is in place.  The Point Of View submission form will be available soon.  We suggest students organize into stakeholder groups and draft their POV prior to submitting via the web based form.  You may also want stakeholder groups to share their work within the class and have an in-class Thoughtful Question period prior to them posting their POV online.  They will have stronger POVs to share with other schools if they have a chance to reflect and revise the first draft.  POVs submitted prior to Friday, October 26th will be held and posted that weekend to be available to all participants Monday, October 29th

After Monday the 29th POVs will be posted each evening as they arrive barring unforeseen difficulties.  The Thoughtful Questions form will be available Monday the 29th as well and submission posted each evening.  Please review with your students any etiquette and manners you feel necessary prior to their submission of TQs.  Stakeholder groups, not individual students, should submit questions or comments via the TQ form to engage stakeholder groups.  They should work together whenever possible to ensure they are representing their group and not individual views.  The same TQ web-form is used to reply as well as ask questions.  Like minded stakeholder groups are welcome to submit supportive comments via the TQ form too but comments should be concise and to the point.    Stakeholder groups may revise their POVs via the POV submission form by beginning the text with “REVISED POS”.  (Incoherent, bogus, or inappropriate POVs or TQs submissions will be returned to teachers via email but having students work as a stakeholder group will reduce the likelihood of misbehavior by a few individuals.)

Should you have any questions or difficulties please call us or email us at  Feel free to add a high importance exclamation point to your email.

I will be attending the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Education Summit from Monday the 22nd through Wednesday the 24th and will be unavailable.  Neil Gillies, Executive Director, will be available at the email listed above or phone 304-856-1385 (evenings 304-987-6297).  Don’t hesitate to call, we want to hear your comments or concerns.  If long distance calls are an issue email us with a phone number and time and we’ll contact you.  We try very hard to be accessible.

Good luck and enjoy.  We’re looking forward to students comments.



October 21, 2007 #2 from Frank

Another note prior to start.  Our online Potomac Highlands Watershed School does not require any pass codes or logon keys.  All activities, surveys, and forms are open to the public.  Wherever a “log on” is mentioned that is an option and a bypass button is available.  On the survey form the “teacher control code” is optional but important for teachers with more than one class (it can be left blank).  Give students in each class a phrase or “code” to use so we can group the surveys accordingly. 

If the survey form does not work it could be an in-school firewall blocking submission.  Some jurisdictions do not allow students to send information of any kind out over the internet so a “submit” button will not work.  If that is the case have students record their answers on paper and mail them to us (record the question number and answer of their choice.  #1 a,  #2 c, etc).  Contact us to let us know of the problem because the Point Of View and Thoughtful Question submission will have to be done via email or another venue.


October 24, 2007 (from Neil)


I'm seeing a lot of activity on the site.  Lots of surveys being taken, lots of clicks through to links.  As long time participant Bill Moore said: "Here we gooooooooooooo!"
The POV entry form is now active and available in the third bullet of the section that begins "The "Oh Deer! Forum will use the following format: " - but that doesn't mean your student stakeholder groups should rush into posting.  Please help them take the time to get their thoughts in order before posting.
If you would like to share, we would love to post pictures of your class (if that is acceptable), your school, or maybe some woodlands in your area to give students in other areas a "face" to put on you and your setting.
Clarification: in Frank's second email on Sunday, he said: "On the survey form the “teacher control code” is optional but important for teachers with more than one class (it can be left blank).  Give students in each class a phrase or “code” to use so we can group the surveys accordingly."  The teacher control code also helps us ensure that the work is really coming from your class, and is not coming from students elsewhere bent on mischief.  I'm sure it would not surprise any of you that such a thing is a possibility.
Frank will be away until tomorrow.  Yesterday, he was the opening "content" speaker at the Chesapeake Bay Education Summit, which is focused on innovative use of technology in environmental education.  At CI we're doing our best to push the envelope on creative and substantive use of technology in the classroom, and in related hands-on activities by students and with their community.  As participants in our "flagship" eForum program, we encourage your feedback to help us improve our content and process.  If you have a problem, we won't know about it unless you tell us.  As Don Rumsfield famously said (paraphrase): ‘There are known knowns.  There are known unknowns.  And there are unknown unknowns.’    We really need your help to fill in the gaps.
That said, have fun.  It is always exhilarating on this end when the POVs and Thoughtful Questions flood in, and rewarding to receive comments from teachers like this one after the Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum last spring:
"The students are learning a great deal about our watershed. Something that I hadn't counted on is that they are learning life lessons on how to deal with people of different ages and abilities.”


October 26, 2007 from Frank

For those of you who can access Google Earth in the classroom we want to share this “tour” of the nine schools participating in the 2007 Oh Deer! eForum.  Save the attached file (note: file sent via email) to your computer and with Google Earth running in the background open the file.  The kmz file should appear in the “Places” folder to the left of the GE screen.  Select the file and choose “Play Tour” in the Tools menu.  You can adjust the speed of the tour etc. under “Options” in the Tools menu.

We invite your students to write a short description of their school including web links to information about their community, or pictures of the class, for us to post on our web site.  We want the students to feel part of a community of learning and the introductions might help engage their peers.

Should you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to call or write.  I’m available in the evening at 304-258-7657. 

P.S.  WV teachers:  If you have GIS software you can find high resolution (1:4,800) aerial images at   The index of images by location is at:

You’ll need to activate the MrSID extension.



October 31, 2007 from Frank


Please remind students to use the drop down menu to identify who they are addressing.  There is a drop down for "All Farmers" etc if they want to address an entire group of stakeholders.
They should also identify themselves in the "from" drop down menu (at the bottom).  Their stakeholder group name will only appear in the drop down the day after they have posted a POV.  If they ask TQs on the first day of posting (the same day they post thier own POV) they should end thier TQ with "Signed so-and-so" so we can identify them.  In other words, if they don't see their own name in the "from" drop down menu they should add a signature line within the TQ dialogue box on the web page form.
Thanks for the POVs and TQs that we've seen.  There are some clever students out there and its good to see some humor.  If it gets a little too silly the moderator will post a comment.



November 12, 2007 from Frank

We appreciate all the Thoughtful Questions so far and the listing of references has been impressive.  That the students reached out to explore Lyme disease and open a dialogue on that is very impressive.  We had not stressed that impact deer have on humans.  We have one week remaining for Thoughtful Questions so those who have not written in still have a chance.  

Some moderator comments have been added reminding students that just stating their opinion isn’t likely to change other's opinions.  They must project facts and rationales that are strong enough to convince other stakeholders to come over to their side.  As we move into the consensus phase remind students it doesn’t have to be an either-or solution, a combination of tactics could also be effective.

A Consensus Form has been added but we prefer the papers be emailed because the web based submissions lose some of the tab and paragraph formatting.  Sending the consensus paper as a word document attachment to will ensure it appears just as the students wrote it.  We have begun to see consensus papers arrive and will post all that we have beginning Friday November 16th and continue through the end of the month.





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Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

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