To start the lesson, I call one table at a time to come sit on the floor. Once all the kids are seated appropriately and ready to listen, I bring out a bag of clean paper trash. I dump the trash on the floor to excite the kids and get them interested in what we are about to do. I tell the kids that tons of paper trash gets thrown away every day and it's a waste.
I ask them to think silently to themselves for a minute about things they could do to through less paper away without making other pollution, like smoke from burning it. I set a timer for 20 seconds to allow them time to think. I then ask the kids to turn to their floor partner and share their ideas. I then call on several random students by pulling names from a name stick can to share with the whole class the ideas they shared. I record the ideas on the board as they share them. We will refer to them later in the lesson.
After we have several ideas on the board, I tell the kids that one way we can cut down on paper trash is to recycle it into something else. I explain to them that today we will use paper to make paper!
This exploration is teacher led because it has several steps for the kids to follow and can get confusing for the kids. When taught step by step, the kids have very little trouble completing the task.
per student -
whole class -
As the kids remain seated on the floor, I demonstrate how this exploration is done. I explain to them that once they are at their tables with their materials, they are to do nothing until instructed to because we are going to do everything together one step at a time.
Once my demo is over, I tell the kids that it is now their turn and remind them that we will be doing it together so they need to stay with me in the steps. They may not get ahead and if they fall behind, we will wait for them.
I dismiss one team at a time to their tables where their materials are already pre-bagged in one gallon baggies and placed in a tub for them. The only items not in the bags are the deli containers.
We follow the same steps as above, but slower. I monitor and assist as needed. I sometimes have parent volunteers or upper-grade students come in to assist. For the water part, I walk the room and add the water to each bottle if I'm by myself or I have the parents/assistants help if I have them. We also put the caps on the bottles. I let the kids do it the first year and they weren't tight enough. Water and pulp went flying everywhere!
I call the teams one table at a time to come back to the floor. I have the kids talk to their floor partner about their experience with making paper from paper. I have them share what they learned and what they noticed about the paper as it changed. They are each given 20 timed seconds.
When they are done sharing with each other, I ask for volunteers to tell the class what they talked about with their partners.
As kids share, I encourage the audience to ask clarifying or probing questions to get more information if they need it.
After the kids have shared, I take out another bag of paper products to show the kids, but this time I show them one item at a time. I do this because I want them to focus on each item; they are all made from recycled paper. I tell the kids what each item is and what it is made from. The bag include the following items:
I ask the kids to think about how taking used paper and making it something new helps people, animals and the planet we live on.
The kids continue sit on the floor as I show them this four minute Youtube video about paper recycling made by National Film Board of Canada. As we watch the video, I pause it on at specific points to discuss what is happening since it is not narrated.
Now that the kids have experienced making paper from used paper and watched paper be recycled on a video, they have a good idea what recycling is about and why it is necessary.
The evaluation is done in the science journals. The kids are asked to consider what other objects we use could be recycled and what they could be turned into. I encourage the kids to use the extent of their imaginations. There is no limit to what they can come up with.
I instruct them to draw a line down the center of the picture part of their journal page. They are asked to draw the original object on the left and what they will turn it into on the left.
They are then asked to write two or more sentences about their recycling idea below their pictures. I demonstrate on the board what they are expected to do. I draw a plastic soda bottle on the left and a park bench on the right. Below the pictures I write, "If I had 1000 plastic bottles I could make them into a park bench. I would melt them and form them into the bench."
As the kids work in their journals, I roam the room and ask the kids to explain to me what they are thinking and writing about. If there is something that doesn't work together, e.g. turning a plastic bottle into jello, I explain to the child that recycle materials cannot be turned into food. As long as the kids can justify their thinking, I accept their ideas as valid because we do not know what the science of the future holds.
Some questions I may ask include:
Once all the kids are finished, I call them back to the floor one table at a time with their science journals. They share their ideas with their floor partner with me setting a timer for 30 seconds for each partner. Once they have all had a chance to share their ideas, I call on four random students to sit in the teacher chair and present their work. To choose the presenters, I pull four name sticks from the name stick can and call them up one at a time.
I design the evaluation of this lesson in this way for two reasons: