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Students will be able to define a problem and come up with a possible solution.

Big Idea

Placing an apple in various compost locations helps students decide the most efficient way to dispose of food waste.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.”

By saying “walking feet” I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students they are going to watch a short song about the lesson topic for today.

“Room 203 I want you to watch the video closely to see if you can pick out the problem. Also listen carefully for the words in the song as you will need to use those words later in our lesson.”

Now I turn on the song from Sid the Science Kid, It’s Not Scary, It’s Decayed.

Make sure you have the video slip already loaded so you do not lose valuable instruction time and also your audience’s attention.

After the video clip is over I ask, “Okay so who thinks they know what the problem was?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.

“That’s right Landon; Sid’s banana was turning brown. What does that it mean?”

I select a different student to respond.

“Well done Colin; the banana is starting to get rotten. Who thinks they know the scientific word for “rotten?””

I select another student.

“Wow, good work Finneas: it is decomposing. Decomposition is the process of when something starts out fresh but slowly decays over time. Now some decomposition is good, such as the fall leaves returning nutrients back to the soil. Some decomposition is not so good, such as painted or treated wood at the dump.”

“Who do you think are the biggest contributors to the dump or landfill is?”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “We are!”

“That’s right we are. I am going to read you a book about composting.”  


I use this video discussion to engage my students’ attention, elicit prior knowledge and provide the students with some appropriate vocabulary. 


45 minutes

I show the students the cover of our book, “Today’s book is called What’s Sprouting in My Trash?: A Book about Composting (Earth Matters) by Esther Porter.”

Reading the book to the group

“Who can tell me something about composting?”

I select a two or three students who are following the classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond.

“Those were all great pieces of information. I can tell many of you already know some facts about composting. Let’s go ahead and read our book to see what else we can find out.”

As we read I stop to point out new pieces of information and the reasons behind composting. The length of these discussions will vary depending on my audience’s interest level.  


Once the book is over I have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug by singing the “Edge of the Rug” song.

I pull out the tray with four apples on it – all four apples are the same.

“Team 203 we are going to conduct an experiment where we are going to try and answer the question, ‘Which is the best way to compost an apple?”

“Here at the Charter School we know we compost, but really which is the best way to compost? Is it the worms? Is it the compost pile? Is the pipe composting system we have in the garden? Or is it the tumbling compost bin? Does anyone have any ideas?”

I select a two or three students who are following the classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond.

“Those were good ideas. Well we are going to find out. We are going to place an apple in each of those composting locations and see which one decomposes the best. There are a couple of things we need to decide in order to make this a fair test. Who can tell me what makes it a fair test?”

I select a student to respond.

“Great Ashley; a fair test is where we change one thing – in this case it will be the location. So what does that mean?”

If anyone raises their hand I will select them; if not I will go ahead and tell the students, “That means everything else has to be the same. The type of apple we use needs to be the same, the way we place them has to be the same and the length of time needs to be the same.”

“So are all the apples here in front of me the same?”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “Yes!”

“Great. Are they all sitting the same way?”

Again I allow the students to call out the answer, “Yes!”

“Great, so we know we have to put all of the apples core side up in the different locations. How about the length of time?”

The students will call out, “The same.”

“Right. As a group we need to decide how long we want to leave these apples in their location. Anyone got any suggestions?”

I select two or three students to respond to the question. We discuss the validity of their suggestions and I guide the discussion until I get around the right time frame.

“Okay as a group we have decided two weeks is a good length of time. So just before break we will check our apples and what we observe will help us determine which composting method is the most efficient for an apple.”

“Today at work stations we will work on different activities to do with reducing waste. When you come to my station we will be going out and placing the apples in their assigned location and recording what they look like today.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


I send the students over to the integrated work stations one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go get ready to have some decomposing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15-18 minutes to work on the activities. After 15-18 minutes are up, the timer goes off and the students clean up and get ready to switch stations.  

I set the visual timer and remind the students to look at it so they can use their time wisely.


Once I have my first group with me I hand each student their science journal and we go to the worm bin in the classroom to place the first apple. Next we head out to the garden to place the other apples. Once all the apples have been placed we record how each apple looked in its location. I use the date stamp to record the date so students can have adequate time to draw the apples.

Students observing the worm bin.

Students observing the compost pile.

Students observing the pipe composting system.

Students observing the pipe composting system.

Students predicting where they think the apple will decompose first.

Student showing and discussing his prediction.  


In this activity the students are exploring different methods of composting to help them decide which would be the best way to deal with human fresh food waste. 


At another work station the students writing about how they will reduce the amount of waste they produce at home (ELA).

One way I can reduce my trash is...


At another work station the students are working on sorting items that are recyclable, compostable and trash (math).  


At another work station the students are making a prediction about which item they think will decompose the fastest – tomato, slice of bread, a piece of paper and an apple. All of these items are placed in sealed jars and placed on a shelf for the students to observe whenever they wish (science).

Our decomposing experiment.

Students discussing which item will decompose first.

Student sample of prediction.  

Updated progress on our experiment - What did you predict? 


These activities provide the students with the opportunity to apply and expand their understanding of the concepts within new contexts and situations thus elaborating on the information they have been presented with. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair and take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.”


Once the students are seated I tell them, “Team 203 your exit ticket today is to tell me one way we can reduce human food waste."

“Now remember when you give me your answer you should give me a complete sentence. For example, "One way we can reduce food waste is..."" 

The students should nod their heads in assent.

“When you have told me your example you may use the hand sanitizer and get your snack.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a solution together.


I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to explain what they observed from the lesson we just did. This quick assessment process allows me to see if the student is able to take information learned in one format and be able to transfer it to another format.   


In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I evaluate each student by providing them with a task the next day for morning work. For this assessment I have the students write in their science journal responding to the morning work prompt, “Think of a way we can reduce our waste that goes to the landfill."

Some students will attempt to write the answer themselves and others can have an adult act as a scribe.

For this assignment I am not going to delve too deeply into the student’s solution. This is just morning work to help the students develop the ability to think of creative solutions to problematic situations; Sid the Science Kid does it every day before going to bed and our students can too.