Monday, November 19, 2012


I've been working on starting a composting club AND I know nothing about composting. LOL. So I invited Sam & James from Green Country Permaculture to share a lesson with my students. A few weeks ago they came and taught the sixth graders about composting from the biology aspect and the chemistry aspect. I think I fell in love at that point! They used vocabulary words and concepts that I had been introducing. It went well and the sixth graders began composting.

Before the guys came back today, I taught a lesson on how to take successful notes to my fifth graders. When the guys came in and taught the composting lesson I watched and tried not to interrupt unless behavior warranted it. My fifth graders are a much more kinesthetic group and I was worried that it wouldn't go as well as the sixth graders. They were AMAZING. They were a little talkative but the notes were fabulous and extensive. The guys even used grade level appropriate vocabulary that was different (or maybe I was listening as a fifth grade teacher instead of a sixth grade teacher this time).

My students learned about why composting is important.

In the chemistry section, they learned about Nitrogen (green) and Carbon (brown) as the two major components of a compost. In the sixth grade class we talked about the ratio of nitrogen to carbon and related it to how many students per teacher in each class.

We talked about things that can not be composted and why those things should not be composted.

Then we talked about the Biology of composting. One of the guys asked my class what living things might be in a compost bin. I was so proud of one of my girls that answered germs. When they asked what she meant by germs she said bacteria! Woohoo! They do pay attention. We talked about decomposers (which happens to be the next lesson in our book) and what they need to live.
We talked about how the decomposers need an acceptable environment which includes shelter, air flow, food, water, and warmth. We talked about the compostable things we listed earlier and what is readily available for us to compost at our school. We have a composting bin (with straw next to it) in our outside classroom/garden area. We talked about the food scraps and how to gather them from the cafeteria.

When it came time to talk about the need for water, we talked about Chloramine being in our tap water now. We talked about it's harmful effects and that we should get water from another source. We decided that we need a system to collect rain water.
We talked about how during the winter the sun is mostly on the South side of the building.  So to keep the decomposers' shelter warm, we decided that the south side of the Garden wall would be the best place.

Overall, the lesson was a great success. We have 5 gallon buckets for our new Composting Club, which were purchased at Home Depot by another teacher helping with the project. The kids are excited and I'm proud. Another lesson success!

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