To begin this lesson, I have the kids come to the floor by calling one table at a time.
I ask the kids to sit like scientists. This means crisscross apple sauce, hands in lap, mouths quiet, ears open, brains ready to learn.
I tell the kids to close there eyes and think in their brains about worms. Most of my girls squeal when I ask them to do this. I then have the kids tell their floor partners what they know about worms. I roam around from team to team listening to their discussions and prompt students to speak when necessary. I do not, however, correct any incorrect information share because that will be resolved as we learn about worms. I want this experience to be authentic and raw.
I then prepare a large piece of chart paper by writing the title "Worms" at the top. I record everything the kids tell me about worms. This chart becomes an anchor for our discussions during the duration of this unit.
I choose kids to share by pulling random names from a name stick can. I do this to avoid subconscious bias that every teacher has. By nature we tend to call on the same group of kids all the time.
As I pull each stick, I record what the kids share. I ask each student to share what they and their partner talked about. I pull a minimum of six names for this section. Six seems to be the maximum number of students at a time before the information becomes redundant.
I go over the poster with the kids very quickly once I have finished recording the final contribution.
Now that the kids have shared what they know about worms, I ask the kids what they think we should do to get to know worms, to study them and to record information about them so we can find out if what we wrote on the poster is all true.
This encourages the kids to start developing their own observations and explorations. We do a quick brainstorming session and I call on random volunteers to share their ideas.
We narrow the list down to the following:
observe live worms at the tables
have worm races
watch worms dig
read about worms
We originally had "worm swim races" on the list until one of the kids remembered that worms can drown so the kids had me remove it from the list.
Once the list is narrowed down the the above, I ask the kids which one we should start with and which would be the easiest to do. We agree that observing a single live worm at each table would be a quick and easy experience that could give us a lot of information about worms.
I ask the kids to tell me what the rules should be. They've done enough observations with live animals now that they should be able to generate their own rules.
Doing this gives the kids responsibility for creating, conducting and monitoring the experience with support from the teacher. This encourages them to keep each other accountable for behavior and learning.
Now that the information from the kids has been recorded on what and how to handle during this exploration, I have the kids narrow the poster down to the most important steps:
I have the kids stay on the floor as they watch me set the worms up on the tables along with one small squirt bottle of water per table.
I go over the expectations they generated one more time before sending one group at a time back to the tables by calling table groups.
I call the kids to the floor to go over what we've learned from observing the red worm. I call them one table at a time.
The goal for the exploration in this lesson is to simply get the kids familiar with worms. Much of what they know before this experience is either from fishing with parents or from their imaginations or tv.
The goal is to get the kids to set aside what they THINK they know, and internalize what they LEARN through observation. Understanding that some of what we learn throughout life is false and replacing it with accurate understanding is important.
I use the poster from the first section again to cross off any inaccurate information that has been listed and add anything further that they observed.
I then explain to the kids the parts of a worm and some of the truths about them through the use of a diagram. This can be done on a poster or use of an ActivBoard/Smartboard.
I go over the following:
To evaluate the learning in this lesson, the kids are asked to complete a diagram of a red worm at their tables. They are expected to label four parts of the worm:
anus - where castings come out
castings - worm poop
front - head
mouth - eats with
clitellum - egg sack
segment - piece
setea - feet
I roam the room to support kids and answer questions as they complete their diagrams.
Once the diagrams are complete, the table leaders get the science journals for their table from me and hand them out. The kids glue the diagrams on the next blank page.
They bring their completed journals back to the floor and share their work with their floor partner. I pull four random names from the name stick can to present their work to the whole class. They show their diagram and name all the labeled part. They also share one thing they found interesting while observing the red worms.
While still seated on the floor, I extend the lesson by asking the kids to think about different things that worms might do.
I follow up with a discussion about the benefits of the things that worms do, e.g. helping plants, fishing bait, feeding birds, etc.
We list this information on the poster. This is how we close this lesson. We save the poster by hanging it up for use in the next lesson. This closure brings connections, meaning, and ideas for future lessons and review.
To elaborate on this lesson, I tie it to reading. I prepare a take home reader about red worms for the kids to read to their parents at home. It is appropriate for independent reading in January of kindergarten.
I have them practice reading the word, "worm" throughout this lesson so they are ready to take it on at home using the reader.
The reader is prepared the week before this lesson, copied and stapled. The kids spend a couple of minutes taking turns reading it to their floor partners before taking it home to their families. It is not intended to be a cold read.
Once they have practiced reading it, I collect them and place them in the homework folder to send home.