The Potomac Highlands School of Water Resources

Environmental Forum Teacher Updates


Current eForum: Stream Cleaner

Last Updated March 19, 2007

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Our Challenge

Why we ask for Control Codes on forms

When the eForums conclude . . .

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

Teacher Tips

Teachers and schools participating in SCE Forum 2007

Emails to teachers:


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?  As noted in the Feb 6 email below, 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 more than 30 classes participating in the SCE Forum 2007, 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.   


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Teachers and Schools participating in the SCE Forum 2007





Linda McDonough


Aberdeen High School SMA

Ed Rissler


Broadway High School

Chuck Gustin


Calvert High School

Jim Owens


Carver Center for the Arts and Technology

Michael Jarman


Dr. Samuel Banks High School

Art Halterman


East Hardy High School

William Moore


Hampshire High School

Vickie Pesci


Hempfield High School

Amanda Fordyce


James Wood High School

Denise Gipson


Jefferson High School

Richard Newcomer


Massanutten Regional Governor's School

Jan Gillies


Moorefield High School

Carla Gorman


Mountain Vista Governor's School

Sheila King


Newburyport High School

Laura O'Leary


North Harford High School

Jill Coutts MD Northwood High School

Jon Rogers


Poolesville High School

Brett Mayer-Aschhoff


The Landon School for Boys

Gloria J. Gibson


Woodrow Wilson Senior High





Emails to Participating Teachers 


Frank Rodgers sent to teachers 3/19/07


Point of View statements have begun arriving (27 so far) and 268 students have taken the pre-survey to date.  We anticipate at least another 30 students will join the SCE Forum shortly.  Provided we don’t see any more snow or flooding we expect POVs to arrive this week with revised POVs and TQs posting daily through March 30th.  (Let us know if that is too soon.)  Consensus Papers will follow after that on your own schedule


You, and your students, will notice the broad range of academic skill and grade level exhibited in the POVs.  One of our goals is to foster a community of learning so we are encouraged by this wide reach of participants.  They range from 9th graders to seniors and general science to advance pre-college classes participating.  Just like the real world, it takes all kinds, experts and “blue collar”, to establish a working consensus.


We want to encourage younger students, or those who find themselves struggling to keep up, to stick with it.  This is not a competition.  Even though students are working in stakeholder groups, they are all on the same “side” in the sense that they are seeking the solution that works for everybody.  What can we all agree on to help clean up our local streams that contributes to the greater Chesapeake Bay restoration effort?


Thoughtful Questions are an opportunity to support likeminded stakeholders, reinforce one’s own position, and ask sympathetic questions of groups that have positions that diverge from one’s own.  Of course, it is also a time for peer review, be critical if necessary.  It is also a time students can ask their peers for help.  Examples:


“We are developers too.  We all want to keep our jobs and people need places to live but don’t you think there are some best management practices we could incorporate that would help the environment and improve the quality of housing?”


“We government officials like the way you developers are incorporating best management practices in your new subdivision but we live in a town that is already built.  Do you have any suggestion for ways to introduce BMPs into existing developments?”


“We see your point about how damaging the watershed hurts the fish and we see that it is a very emotional issue for you.  We don’t mean you any harm, but what can a farmer do?”


“As local government officials it is our job to deal with non-point source pollution.  You mention sewage treatment but that is a point source problem.  What can you do to help meet the Our Town’s non-point source reduction requirements?”


“We are the government of Bay Town.  We don’t see how you can reduce your use of widgets by so much.  Are you sure about that?  Please explain how that can be possible.”


TQs are an opportunity to develop a cooperative internet community within stakeholder groups, between groups outside one’s own stakeholder group, not to mention between schools.  Students should strive toward the positive.


Speaking of positive, thanks again for sticking with it through another bout of weather.  We have added two new links to the SCE Forum in the “Four stages of the SCE Forum” section you will find: 

  • New- For some tips on writing strong POVs, click here and here.”  Some of which you may have already seen in the Teachers’ Room.  This is additional reading for the students who really want to do well.  The essentials of writing a POV are in the POV web submission form itself.  So, any student who follows the guidelines within the POV web-link should have a satisfactory POV.

  • New 3/14/07.  Thinking about the Bay Cleanup: Framing Questions. Cleaning up the Bay is quite a challenge.  This piece offers six “framing questions” - cornerstone questions to help you think through some key issues, with links to the Bay Journal articles

P.S.  Unique and entertaining stakeholder group names are encouraged but no reference (however vague) will be permitted regarding inappropriate behavior (i.e. violence, drugs, sex, or dropping out).  To avoid problems, we encourage teachers to have groups declare their stakeholder team’s name in class prior to entering it in the computer.



Frank Rodgers, sent to teachers March 7, 2007


Thank you for sticking with the SCE Forum through this troublesome weather - many snow related closings again today.


Two new pieces of material are posted to the website:

1)  Native Guide Sandy Burk, biologist and author, tells the success story of students in Maryland, including Poolesville High School students, in restoring American shad to the Potomac River.  The narrative, accompanied with photographs, describes the students’ leadership and follows three students from elementary into high school.

2)  We’ve added a piece on urban/suburban issues and solutions which includes forestry.  The Chesapeake Bay Program is a national leader in the emerging field of “urban forestry” conservation that expands tree canopy and mitigates the negative impact of impervious surfaces.


Point Of View statements have begun coming in.  We will start posting POVs Friday, March 9th and continue with postings daily.  Thoughtful Questions will be accepted beginning Monday, March 12th and posted daily.  The POV and TQ deadline is Friday, March 30th.  after which we will post final consensus papers as they arrive.  Classes may submit their consensus papers beginning Monday, March 26th, but they will not be posted till the 30th.  We want to work with everyone to achieve the maximum student involvement while still maintaining a timely discussion.


Does that give your class enough time?


Please have students do the survey first (see the Feb 13 eForum Updates).  To date we have received 233 surveys from 15 classes not counting James Wood where a firewall prevented submission of the survey forms.  We are making arrangements for their continued participation.  If your class has submitted the survey you should have received the results from us via email (from or  If not, please contact us immediately.


Should your class have trouble submitting the web forms the first thing to do is find a way for students to save their submission (survey, POV, or TQ) in some electronic format.  Then call us, or email, ASAP so we can arrange another method of communication.


P.S.  “Dear Teacher” emails are posted at eForum Updates.  For information on participating schools, a Google Earth “tour”, or the Survey answer sheet please email us.



Frank Rodgers, sent to teachers on February 27, 2007

Five Items regarding the watershed, or should I say snow shed, discussion.

1.  The Point Of View submission period will still open on March 3rd but is extended to March 16th.  We will post the first batch of POVs Friday March 9th and POVs that come in from the 12th to 16th (along with Thoughtful Questions) will be posted daily.
2.  Allowing a one week extension will mean that some student POVs will be available on the site before all stakeholder groups have submitted their POV.  To foster unique and individual POVs students should refrain from viewing other stakeholder's work until they have submitted their own.    The order is:
    A.  Post your own POV.  (March 3rd-16th)
    B.  Review others POV.  (Ongoing after March 9th)
    C.  Ask thoughtful questions & respond to inquiries.  (Ongoing March 9th - 30th)
3.  Unique and expressive stakeholder team names are strongly encouraged.
4.  The SCE Forum achieves links will be closed during the students' conversation period to prevent any "piggy backing" on previous POV statement or stakeholder group names.  Teachers can contact us for an "off line" link to those pages.
5.  We encourage you to share the survey results with your class.  Please let the students see that we are recording both the time information is submitted to us as well as the computer ID of the sender.  Perhaps the suggestion that we can ID the student-author of any text will cut down on mischief.
Every eForum is an authentic and unique experience.  Students will shine, or not, on their own efforts and the harshest judges they will face are their peers.  It is always education, enlightening, and quite a bit of fun.
I'm always available for questions (w) 304-856-1385 (h) 304-258-7657.

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Frank Rodgers, sent to teachers on Feb 20, 2007


We appreciate that the recent weather has upset schedules.  We are open to the idea of extending the Thoughtful Questions period so there will be adequate time for student dialogue.  However, if you can, please try to have your student stakeholder groups post their Point Of View papers the week of March 5th - 9th (let us know if that will not be possible).


Attached you’ll find the questions for the pre/post-survey with the correct answers, where applicable (if you did not get this file, send Frank an email at  and he will send it to you).  Some questions are about students’ attitudes so there is no “right” answer.  We do not expect students to know all, or even many, of the answers but are surveying them so we can later judge how their attitudes change and understanding improves.  We are not recording responses individually but as a class group and will let you know how the students in your class poled and how students overall poled.  If you have multiple classes participating please be sure to use a unique “teacher code” for each class.  (see the last email in the eForum Updates for more info) 


P.S.  Google Earth ( is a free program that has aerial images from across the globe.  Most of the schools involved in the SCE Forum can be seen clearly.  Should you already use Google Earth in your classroom or be interested yourself in seeing what the other schools look like, we invite you to take a “tour”.  It is striking how the urban/suburban schools (even Newburyport High School, MA) look so much alike (large school bldg and ball fields surrounded by identical street patterns and uniform formations of houses) while the rural schools are very similar (large expanses of forest and working fields).  Perhaps we are all more alike then we realize?


To tour the schools "Save As" the attached kmz file to your computer (if you did not get this file, send Frank an email at  and he will send it to you).  Then, with Google Earth running in the background browse your computer to where you saved the attached file and double click.  Return to Google Earth and you will see a new, default GE file name appear in the "Temporary Places" file list on the left side.  Click once on that GM file to select it (a shadow box will appear).  Then with the kmz selected choose "Play Tour" from the "Tools" drop-down menu.  It might take 15-20 minutes to align the views and run for the first time but after that the subsequent “tours” of the 20 schools takes  about 6 minutes.  (So, let Google run in the background or take a break from the computer during the first slow run.)  You may want to adjust the tour speed under “Options” in the “Tools” menu to pause longer on each destination. 


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(Frank Rodgers - sent to teachers Feb 13, 2007)


Web sites, for all their charm, can be tricky.  If you ever have a problem or question don't hesitate to call us at 304-856-1385 or email (!! Priority).  I’m also available in the evenings at 304-258-7657.  You may get a chance to say “hi” to my wife Catherine.


Before starting the SCE Forum please have your students complete the pre/post survey.  They will repeat the same survey at the conclusion so we can track how students’ attitudes and understandings change.  You will need to dictate (or write on the chalk board) the survey web page address so students can type it into their browser bar and access it directly at:  


If your school’s firewall prevents the students from “submitting” the survey information via the internet have them record their answers on paper (or in a digital form using a copy/paste function) and contact us.  We will work with you to arrange for an alternative method of communication.


After taking the survey students enter the SCE Forum by following these four steps:


2) follow the link at the top of the page to the "e-school" or in bottom right corner to "The Potomac Highlands Watershed School".

3) Go to the High School Classroom by clicking on the door in the schoolhouse

4) Click on the phone on the desk

To help keep teachers in the loop when new classes join we have added "eForum Updates" to the Teachers' Room (step 1 & 2 above but go into the Teachers’ Room and look on the back wall for the link).


The Point-Of-View submissions link will not be accepted until March 5th and then posted the weekend of March 9-11.  However, we encourage you to divide the class into stakeholder groups earlier to begin writing POVs on paper, or in MS Word, so they are prepared when the POV submission link is activated.


P.S.  Coming soon!  Google Earth “tour” of the twenty SCE Forum Schools.


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(Frank Rodgers - sent to teachers Feb 6, 2007),


A pre/post survey for students has been posted on the web site.  Please ask your students to complete this before they start their research.  The survey takes about five minutes and can be found at  You will need to dictate the web page address for students to type in their browser bar since it will not be available to the general public (we only want participating students to access the survey).  You are welcome to give it a try and suggestions/comments are welcome.  You will notice a “Control code (from your teacher):” box.  We ask you provide a word, or set of numbers, up to 10 digits for your students to use.  This will help separate classes within the same school.  It should also 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 will track when the surveys are submitted but having the extra filter of a “code” will help identify any bogus or erroneous submissions.


FYI:  In addition to the Stream Cleaner activity that is referenced and linked to in the SCE Forum web pages we wanted to point out Decision Matrix. an activity that invites students to take the role of a planner in an imaginary county.  Students learn about smart growth and are challenged to make decisions.  To quote the premise:

“Mountain County residents are hungry for economic growth, but also worry about how that growth might affect their way of life.  They hope the new County Planner will direct the local economy along on a sustainable path, while preserving the natural beauty and rural lifestyle of the county.”  The activity can be accessed through the black board in the High School Classroom.  It should be of special interest to any school in an area under pressure from development, as much of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is.


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(Frank Rodgers - Sent to teachers Jan 26, 2007)


The investigation phase of the SCE Forum is open now and the students' dialogue runs from March 3rd through the 25th.  Some of you have seen the teachers’ lesson plan.  Please note Background #4 with a link to a Power Point presentation on an overview of the Chesapeake Bay Program.  It is a great way to open the discussion but we recommend you download that prior to class since the file is large.  I believe everyone has seen the Info & Sign up.  Did you notice links for Teacher Tips and Highlights on the left?  You can access the teacher info through our main web page  Follow the links to the Potomac Highlands Watershed School and then the Teachers' room.  Once in the Teachers’ Room click on the High School Activities and then the link for Environmental Forum (in bold) and link to a lesson plan.  You’ll notice links in the bottom left to access the other school rooms.  We’ve structure the web site to bring information up within the room so if students accidentally close the lesson window they will still be in the classroom.


We’ve updated the SCE Forum (accessed through the telephone in the high school classroom) with a connection to a map provided by the Chesapeake Bay program.  You’ll see a new paragraph at the end of the “Essential Background” section.  The entire 64,000 square mile Bay watershed is divided into sub-watersheds and students can investigate land cover and other statistics about their own watershed.


We are excited the schools involved represent a wide gradient of socio-economic backgrounds and varied geography.  The SCE Forum is geared for all levels.  This multi-level approach engages more students and expands the potential for dynamic role playing in the stakeholder development.  We have academically challenged students as well as AP level.  The basics are all included in the web site so students who are not strong in research can keep up.  For advanced students there are many strings of topics suggested for more in depth research.  For academically challenged students we hope the peer pressure of the web-based dialogue will let them see the value of staying in school and getting a sound education.  As one student put it to another student in the last eForum:  ‘If you are going to question my point of view you had better learn how to write first.”


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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)
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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

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