Dark Tide
The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

by Stephen Puleo

Geography Lesson Plans
Prepared by students -- and future teachers -- in
GEOG 441: Geography Frameworks
James Hayes-Bohanan
Department of Geography

Bridgewater State University
Update: April 26, 2011
Dark Tide

Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide is an excellent example of a history book that sheds light on the importance of geography in historical events. It is also an excellent work of public scholarship that uses a compelling narrative to tell some of the most important stories of a pivotal epoch in U.S. history. Since its publication in 2003, it has been adopted by 15 communities for town-wide "One Book" programs. It is certain to be adopted by more, and the lessons provided below are offered to educators who might wish to use them to develop classroom activities for students in communities reading this fine work.

(Links are to plans in Word.doc format)

Grade Level(s)
Triangle Trade in the Classroom
1, 2, 3
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 16
Molasses Preparation

International Trade 5 1-6 8
Flood Area
14, 18
Evacuation Route 8 3-6 14

Every spring I teach a course that is intended to help future geography teachers think creatively about ways to create geography lessons. Because geography is often missing from the formal curriculum, I try to prepare geography educators to find their own connections between the discipline they have studied and other material they may be teaching. The One Book One Community partnership between my university and my town began at about the same time I started teaching this course, and almost always provides an excellent opportunity for exactly the kind of stretching I want my students to do. Every spring and fall, the partnership selects a book to be read by university classes, primary and/or secondary classes, local book clubs, and the public at large. Once a book is chosen, many related activities are planned on campus, in schools, at local libraries, and elsewhere in the community. The experience of many people in a community sharing a common reading experience is very rewarding, and many of my students are likely to encounter similar programs in their future employment in schools.

For several years, I have assigned many of the "One Book" selections to my students, and challenged them to write about how they could use them to teach geography at particular grade levels. Geography curricula are defined according to several different schemes, and these have helped us to find various geographic perspectives on Nickel and Dimed, Fast Food Nation, and other titles over the past few years. This year, the book is Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Through careful research and skillful story-telling, Puleo shows that this tragic event, too often dismissed as some kind of comedic moment -- has important lessons about the world space-economy, the treatment of immigrant communities, and the complexity of urban landscapes. For these reasons, it has been a perfect opportunity for me to expand the usual assignment, so that my students have actually developed lesson plans for use by other educators. Each of the lesson titles listed below includes a link to lesson plans that are available for use by in-service teachers.

The "standards" indicated in the table refer to components of geographic education that were identified for the 1994 report Geography for Life, and which are the basis for a much larger database of lesson plans known as the National Geographic Xpeditions Archive. Some lessons are connected to specific chapters of Dark Tide; others apply to the book more generally.

One Book One CommunityOne Book One CommunityOne Book One CommunityOne Book One Community
Many thanks to the Bridgewater/BSU One Book One Community Committee.

Visitors since April 26, 2011