Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bridging Wor(l)ds

When I was a teenager, I would write prolifically on my computer. Sometimes I would try to model my favorite poetry depending on whether I was reading Emerson or Blake. Often, I would write very short stories then seemed like scenes from someone looking out the window of a fast moving car to a busy sidewalk. Other times, I would reflect on my own life and try to place events in some kind of order, hopefully leading to meaning, and possibly purpose. My computer was my muse, and when I felt bold, I would go to my dot matrix printer and set myself to ‘publishing’ my thoughts for an illusory audience of some critics and many admirers. What I collected over this years eventually filled many binders and reams of paper, but its collective worth was only valued by my own imagined currency.

Now, I find myself living in the world, not trying to create one. I have found a path to walk. Through teaching, I satisfy my desire to learn and my need to contribute to a better world. Much of my time is spent thinking about small actions within big plans, about helping students find their way into a forest of questions, and then back out again. Small successes and looming challenges become part of each day, and its good enough.

Today, for some reason, I felt I needed to build some kind of bridge between the past and the present. I’ve wanted to write reflectively for some time, while finding many convenient reason (excuses?) for not doing so. Would the world suffer if I wrote a bad poem? Probably not, but one can never be too sure. Every reflection is growth. Every dream is as real as each breath.

The Poetry Foundation

One of the best apps I have had the pleasure of enjoying this summer is from the Poetry Foundation. Their poetry app allows you to search and browse select poems from around the world and through the ages. All you have to do is select themes and topics on two sliders and spin them to get randomly generated topics, like nature and passion, or compassion and relationships. It’s a quick way to remember that language is an art still curiously understood.

Reading George Kennan

I’m beginning to learn the ins and outs of my new blog theme today, and this is something I really enjoy. I can post a brief status update without much effort. There’s plenty of times I’d like to record something on the blog, but not have to worry about the long writing process. So what’s going on right now? I’m into the beginning of my new biography on George Kennan by John Gaddis and enjoying it immensely. Back to reading!

Homework Assignments

Clean, clear water should be the standard in Buzzards Bayand throughout the watershed. However the Bay – and the  rivers, streams, and wetlands that flow into it – suffer from a balance of lingering toxic and sewer pollution and the largest threat facing the Bay today, nitrogen pollution.

The science is clear: Nitrogen pollution generated by the watershed’s expanding population—primarily through inadequate wastewater disposal and fertilizers—is the greatest long term threat to the ecological health ofBuzzards Bay and its more than 30 harbors and coves.

Furthermore, the Bay faces ongoing toxic pollution threats from oil transport and industrial activities. By serving as the Northeast’s petroleum highway, more than two billion gallons of oil are shipped throughBuzzards Bay annually, risking hazardous oil spills. The Bay also suffers from incremental industrial, residential, and agricultural toxics as well as historical industrial pollution aroundNew Bedford.



1.  What are the main threats forBuzzards Bay?



2.  What kind of pollution is created by fertilizers (the chemicals we put on plants for them to grow faster)?



3.  What do you think can be done to fight this problem?








A Healthy Watershed = Clean Water. However, poorly-planned, sprawling development within the watershed is the leading cause of environmental degradation to the Bay, due mainly to the increase in nitrogen pollution. In addition, many of the watersheds natural pollution filters – forests, stream buffers, and wetlands – have been lost or damaged. These impacts to the watershed have a direct connection to the health ofBuzzards Bay.

What Is a Watershed?

If you’re on land, you’re standing in one right now.

A watershed defines an area of land that drains to a specific body of water; its perimeter is not marked by town lines, but by an area’s natural topography. It stores, transports, and filters the water that sustains life on land, as well as in our rivers, ponds, and bays.

A watershed acts like a funnel, channeling rain downhill, drop by drop, into groundwater, streams, and wetlands and eventually into the Bay (see image above). Along the way, natural processes—in the form of our forests, wetlands, and small streams—filter out as much as 90 percent of the nitrogen and other pollutants generated by human activities.

When people interfere with this flow by constructing roads or houses in sensitive areas, for example, we interrupt the natural systems for removing pollution. Paved surfaces fast-track rainwater and pollutants into our streams and ultimately intoBuzzards Bay.


WhenBuzzards Bayis compared to other East Coast estuaries, one of its most important distinguishing features is the extent of its watershed forests. It’s also one of the key secrets behind the Bay’s relative good health compared to places like the Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound andNarragansett Bay. The 2011 State ofBuzzards Bayfound that 79% of original forest coverage still exists in the Buzzards Bay Watershed.

Stream Buffers

No acreage works harder to maintain our region’s water quality and aquatic biodiversity than the forested lands alongside the more than 700 miles of streams that flow intoBuzzards Bay. The first 200 feet of natural vegetation on either side of the stream is most critical and collectively comprises a little more than 11% of the overall Buzzards Bay Watershed.

But in this 11%, a large portion of the nitrogen and other pollution can be naturally captured, absorbed and removed. An amazing natural service provided at no cost. Unfortunately, nearly 9,000 acres of those critical first 200’ along watershed streams – or 29% of all stream buffer area – have been lost to residential, commercial and agricultural development.


Between 1997 and 2009, 235.57 acres of wetlands were filled, drained or built upon in the Buzzards Bay Watershed. Approximately 85 acres of this destruction occurred since the last publication of this State of the Bay Report.

Overall, 40% ofBuzzards Bay’s original wetlands have been filled, drained or built upon. Today, the watershed’s remaining saltmarshes, wooded swamps and freshwater marshes serve as the Bay ecosystem’s filtering mechanism able to absorb as much as 90% of the nitrogen and other pollution generated by human activities.


1.  What is a watershed?


2.  How do people interfere with a watershed?


3.  What do you think will be the consequences of ruining the watershed





Name: ________________________________________________


One of the clearest indicators of serious pollution problems are the loss of some of the Bay’s most important, and sensitive, living resources. Eelgrass, bay scallops, and river herring are three species whose abundance – or absence – is dependent on the health of the Bay and Watershed.


If you want to track the spread of nitrogen pollution in your own corner of the Bay, watch the eelgrass. And in many nearshore areas ofBuzzards Baytoday, eelgrass is slowly disappearing.

Eelgrass, a rooted underwater plant that grows in meadows on the bay floor, depends on excellent water clarity and sunlight penetration. However, cloudy water, resulting from nitrogen pollution, is the major cause of eelgrass loss inBuzzards Bay. The good news is that there remains enough eelgrass seed stock in the Bay for eelgrass meadows to recover once nitrogen pollution is reduced and water clarity restored.

For this reason, the Bay Coalition focuses on the root of the problem, working to stop nitrogen pollution from all sources while also protecting and restoring the watershed’s natural filters, like forests and wetlands.

Bay Scallops

Once considered the signatureBuzzards Bayshellfish, the highly valuable bay scallop has been in severe decline for the past 30 years.

An average catch of less than 2,000 bushels per year was reported in all Bay coastal towns between 2006-2010 by local shellfish wardens and the MA Division of Marine Fisheries. This figure represents less than 3% of the catches being reported in the 1970s when consistent catch data first became available.

Strong bay scallop populations are indicative of clear waters. Bay scallops are very sensitive to environmental conditions, from water quality to water temperature. Waters polluted with nitrogen choke out eelgrass, destroying crucial habitat for scallops. As we eliminate pollution and restore eelgrass, bay scallops may begin to recover to their once abundant levels.

River Herring

River Herring inBuzzards Bayare in a state of profound collapse, with serious consequences for the Bay ecosystem. Only a fraction of the historic populations of herring still make the journey up the Bay into local streams and ponds. Other species once present in Bay rivers such as Shad, Sturgeon, and Atlantic Salmon are already locally extinct. Herring are considered a ‘foundation’ fish for theBuzzards Bayecosystem as the fate of the Bay’s sportfish and waterbirds are closely linked to them.

The cause of river herring decline continues to evade fisheries managers. We know that the damming of rivers, degradation of water quality, and alterations to pond and river flows have all reduced populations. It is now clear, however, that forces outside the watershed are also impacting herring.

The largest remaining herring populations in Buzzards Bay can be found on theMattapoisettRiverwhere  10,300 fish/yr were found, a far cry from from historic populations. In 1921, 1.85 million herring were reported in the Mattapoisett.

All is not lost, restoring the region’s rivers can put river herring on the path to recovery. On theAcushnetRiver, herring populations have increased 10 fold since the lowering of a dam at theAcushnetRiver restoration site.

1.  What living things are being destroyed which have an important role in the bay?



2.  What are the solutions being done and/or proposed to help save these living things in our bay?


Animal Final Project

Hi!  Here are some links that may help you with your research.  Also at the end is a copy of the handout about the project in case you lost it.

Endangered Species from US Fish and Wildlife – has a searchable map to find endangered species by state or country.

A Library of the World’s Animals – made for kids, easy to understand

Phoenix Zoo – has information on a lot of animals

Animal Planet’s Guide to Endangered Species

Animals Organized by Biome


Here’s the assignment questions if you lost them:

Animal Final Project


You will have 3 days in the computer lab to complete this project.

Thursday, 5/31  B and D block in D-225

Friday 6/1  B in B-265 and D in D-225

Tuesday 6/5 in B and D in D-225


PROJECT IS DUE JUNE 8 – either sent home to me in your folders or emailed to me at

Project needs to be a blog, a booklet, a powerpoint, a Microsoft word document, or handwritten.  It MUST be in your own words.  Don’t save your work to hard drives in the computer labs – they are not reliable.  Write down your research or email it to yourself if you are not blogging.

These questions are to guide your research but you can go further with things.  Hand in this paper in your folders.

Helpful links can be found at my website: – Click on Integrated Science.

1.  Pick an animal (I would prefer an endangered animal)

2.  Scientific name:

3.  Where in the world does it live?

4.  What biome does it live in?

5.  Describe the habitat (where it lives) – does it hang out in caves, in trees, under rocks, etc

6.  What things does it need to survive (other than food)?

7.  What does it eat (what is its diet)?

8.  What animals hunt it?

9.  Is it a primary, secondary, or tertiary consumer?

10.  If it is endangered, why is it endangered?

11.  Community:  Does it live with family or in a herd?  Does it travel in groups?

12.  How does it find a mate?  Do they mate for life?

13.  How do they care for their babies?  How long do the babies stay with them?

14.  If endangered, how are people trying to protect it?

Find pictures.  If you are making a blog, you know how to put pictures in.  Printers in the computer labs may not be working.  If you are making a handwritten project, you may have to draw your pictures or go to the library on the 2nd or 3rd floor to see if they have a working printer.




More travel: Biomes

We are going to continue our incredible journey around the world by exploring biomes.

What’s a biome?  How many are there?  Find that out first.  Here’s some helpful links

We are spending 3 days in the computer lab, adding to our concepts of travel.  You may continue your journey that you began for the Earth project or start in a new location.

1.  Produce a nice project in a digital (not printed) project 20 points

2.  Find out and define the biome for your location 10 points

3.  Research one plant in detail 20 points

4.  Research at least one animal in your biome 20 points

5.  Create a food web for your biome/location 20 points

6.  Find other locations with the same biome 10 points.

7.  If you want, you can add additional hotels and places to go to better experience the biome – this will count as extra credit.



Travel Project Pt. 1

We are going on an adventure vacation.  Explore an exciting, unusual natural location on our amazing planet.

Part 1:  Pick your trip

Visiting volcanoes:

Volcano National Park in Hawaii

Mt. Aso Volcano in Japan

A List of the Top Ten Volcanoes to visit

Volcanoes in Iceland

Visiting canyons:

Grand Canyon in Arizona

10 Best Canyons to Visit

Copper Canyon in Mexico

Other Trips:

Visit Glaciers in Alaska

Glaciers in Patagonia

Climb Mt. Kilimonjaro in Africa

Climb Mt. Everest

Antarctica and see the penguins

Go on safari in Africa to see the big animals

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Want more ideas?  Here are some travel expedition companies:

National Geographic Expeditions

Wilderness Travel

Geographic Expeditions