Author:
Out Teach
Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Upper Primary
Grade:
5
Tags:
  • Cause and Effect
  • Compost Bin
  • ELA
  • Evidence
  • Main Idea and Details
  • Out Teach
  • Reading
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    Compost Text -- Out Teach

    Compost Text -- Out Teach

    Overview

    Students will read the complex text on compost and use the outdoor space to verify or deny the content of the text in the real-world setting.

    Background for Teachers:

    Out Teach logo

    Compost (as defined in the text) will exist in the outdoor classroom in a managed bin or pile. You can also observe many of the same scientific processes in a forest or untended area. Your school may have a compost plan in place or someone who manages the compost operations that should be consulted prior to conducting a hands-on lesson. Compost may be warm, stinky and contain lots of bugs, mold, and other "yucky" components but it is harmless for students to work with. Make sure to leave time at the end of the lesson to wash hands. If you are making compost piles, fall is a great time to bring in bags of leaves or ask parents to bring them in if possible.

    The portions of the lesson involving the reading can vary depending on grade level/reading level, and this lesson can be connected to various types of explorations that take it beyond one day or connected to additional science and math lessons.

    Key Vocabulary:

    • Decomposition

    • Microscopic

    • Bacteria

    • Fungi

    • Organisms

    • Recycling

    • Nitrogen

    Guiding Question:

    What evidence can you find that supports or denies the information from the text about the compost pile?

    Engage:

    Ask students if they know what happens to plants once they die. How do they seem to disappear? Are they really gone? Don't give away any information as students give responses.

    Inform students that they will be reading a passage that explains what happens to dead plant materials.

    Explore:

    Give students time to read the passage.

    Ask: What evidence can you find that supports or denies the information from the text about the compost pile?

    Have students explore the compost bin(s) when they are finished to look for evidence of the things they read about.

    Have students write down their findings in their journals which can include drawing pictures.

    Reading the passage before going outside can be done if that helps with concentration.

    If there is only one compost pile, you may have to conduct traffic: have students move back after making observations so that others can see and ensure that there is room for students to use any tools needed. Try to encourage a rhythm of observe and record for each student or have them work in groups to further limit the amount of time each student needs to be close to the compost.

    Explain:

    Start by asking what details from the text could be observed in the compost pile.

    Ask students if they think that the steps have been properly followed for the school's compost pile and continue to require them to refer to the text to support their explanations.

    Ask students about specific vocabulary from the text and ask about text features like "what do you think it means when it says people can mimic nature?" and "give me an example of a material that could supply nitrogen to compost.

    Elaborate:

    Have students determine if any steps need to be taken to improve the compost pile.

    Have students generate ideas about how the finished compost can used; incorporate an estimated time to get finished compost.

    Evaluate:

    Instructors: Note for yourself which students were best able to use the text when describing the compost pile, proposing more steps to finish the compost, or suppor thtier ideas.

    This lesson is an informal reading assessment, but a formal assessment could easily be provided to evaluate the transfer of learning to a pencil/paper format.

    This lesson is an informal reading assessment, but a formal assessment could easily be provided to evaluate the transfer of learning to a pencil/paper format.

    Resources:

    Compost

    Have you ever wondered what happens to all the leaves that fall of the trees every fall? Why don't they just continue to pile up and cover the entire forest? There is a magical process of nature going on that returns leaves and other dead plant material to the soil. This process is called decomposition and it involves organisms called decomposers such as microscopic bacteria and fungi as well as larger organisms like worms. Decomposers break the dead material into smaller and smaller parts until they become part of the soil and start to feed other plants.

    The process of decomposition is like nature's way of recycling its own materials, turning old dead material into new food for plants. When humans attempt to mimic or copy this process, we call it making compost. In nature, this process can take years, but by following a few simple steps, we can speed this process up quite a bit and make a natural fertilizer that helps our plants be healthy.

    The first thing needed to make compost is to collect dead plant materials like brown leaves, straw, and grass clippings. These brown items supply the compost with carbon. Next, you will want some fresh materials like green grass, coffee grounds, or vegetable and fruit scraps from your kitchen. These fresh supplies add nitrogen to the compost. Once you have your supplies, you need to mix them together to make a pile at least three feet high (try to mix in twice as much carbon material as nitrogen). When you have your pile, you will want to add some water to make sure that it is damp but not soaking. Finally, you will need to turn or mix the pile up about once every 1-2 weeks.

    If you follow all the steps listed above, you should have finished compost in about 4-6 months. While the pile is decomposing, you may notice that it gets warm inside the pile which is a normal part of the process. You will know that the compost is finished when it looks like dark soil. At this point you can mix it into the soil where you want to grow plants later or sprinkle it around growing plants to give them a boost.

    Notes

    Instructors: Note for yourself which students were best able to use the text when describing the compost pile, proposing more steps to finish the compost, or suppor thtier ideas.

    This lesson is an informal reading assessment, but a formal assessment could easily be provided to evaluate the transfer of learning to a pencil/paper format.

    This lesson is an informal reading assessment, but a formal assessment could easily be provided to evaluate the transfer of learning to a pencil/paper format.