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LSF's Building a Vermicomposter Action Toolkit for Elementary and Middle Years Students

Elementary, Middle

Description

Building a Vermicomposter is an action toolkit that engages teachers and students in community and school-based environmental action projects. This comprehensive resource provides teachers with a variety of hands-on learning activities which include building a vermicomposter that uses red wiggler worms to transform organic waste that would normally be sent to the dump, into a natural fertilizer.

This easy to use resource includes ideas for in-class activities, step-by-step directions of the action day, as well as follow-up and extension activities. Students engage in a variety of hands-on activities in the classroom allowing them to:

  • learn about the advantages and disadvantages of composting
  • learn how their city disposes of waste and identify ways to reduce solid wastes at school and at home
  • evaluate their own waste by determining how much of their lunch waste is recyclable, organic and garbage
  • build their own vermicomposter in order to reduce organic waste going to the landfill
  • observe, draw, label and measure the worms
  • create a mindmap about their vermicomposter
  • explore the diverse reasons to care about worms

The resource also provides an activity allowing students to connect their learning to the SDGs and apply the knowledge they gained throughout this action toolkit to think critically about them. Through interactive activities and hands-on projects, teachers can help students understand the importance of the SDGs and how they can make a difference. By introducing students to the SDGs, they can better understand how their actions can help create a more sustainable world.

To access more LSF Action Projects click here

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • How to build a vermicomposter and maintain it.
  • How to feed and care for the worms.
  • Become aware of the waste you produce.

Strengths

  • The resource allows teacher to meet curriculum expectations through highly engaging and environmentally-focused learning activities.  
  • The resource contains detailed background information for the teacher and students.
  • The resource provides authentic action experiences, large and small.
  • Each lesson in the resource clearly states its learning outcomes, description of the activity, materials needed, preparation and assessment options.
  • Wide range of learning styles incorporated into the lessons.
  • The resource is well organized and easy to use.
  • A variety of assessment suggestions are provided

Weaknesses

  • No modification for diverse learners is provided.
  • Limited outdoor activites

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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        • Living Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interactions
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        • Developing and affirming identity contributes to well-being and understandings of self and one another
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        • Earth Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interactions.
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        • Writing: Ideas and information can be articulated accurately and imaginatively through the use of writing processes and an understanding of the author’s craft
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        • Living Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interactions
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        • Explore Thoughts, Ideas, Feelings and Experiences
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Explore Thoughts, Ideas, Feelings and Experiences
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        • Statistics and probability
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        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
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        • The likelihood of possible outcomes can be examined, compared, and interpreted
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 3: Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
    • Grade 4
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      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
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        • Analyzing and interpreting experiments in data probability develops an understanding of chance
        • Polygons are closed shapes with similar attributes that can be described, measured, and compared
      • Science
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
    • Grade 5
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        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
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        • Data represented in graphs can be used to show many-to-one correspondence
      • Science
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        • Science 5: Multicellular organisms have organ systems that enable them to survive and interact within their environment.
    • Grade 6
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      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from the results of an experiment can be used to predict the theoretical probability of an event and to compare and interpret
        • Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations
        • Properties of objects and shapes can be described, measured, and compared using volume, area, perimeter, and angles
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 6: Multicellular organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce, and interact with their environment.
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        • Exploring and sharing multiple perspectives extends our thinking.
      • Science
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        • Science 7: Evolution by natural selection provides an explanation for the diversity and survival of living things.
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        • Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.
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  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 4
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      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Develop and Celebrate Community
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing and interpreting experiments in data probability develops an understanding of chance
        • Polygons are closed shapes with similar attributes that can be described, measured, and compared
        • Shape & Space
        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science
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        • Life Systems: Habitats & Communities
        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
    • Grade 5
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      • English/Language Arts
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        • Celebrate and Build Community
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data represented in graphs can be used to show many-to-one correspondence
        • Shape & Space
        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 5: Multicellular organisms have organ systems that enable them to survive and interact within their environment.
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Explore Thoughts, Ideas, Feelings and Experiences
        • Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from the results of an experiment can be used to predict the theoretical probability of an event and to compare and interpret
        • Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations
        • Properties of objects and shapes can be described, measured, and compared using volume, area, perimeter, and angles
        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Systems: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
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        • Celebrate and Build Community
        • Research, interpret and analyze
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        • Patterns and Relations
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Patterns & Relations
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  • Nova Scotia
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        • Measurerment
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        • Science 6: Diversity of Life
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  • Nunavut
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        • Develop and Celebrate Community
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        • Earth & Space Systems: Soils in the Environment
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        • Develop and Celebrate Community
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        • Explore Thoughts, Ideas, Feelings and Experiences
      • Math
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        • Statistics and Probability
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        • Life Systems: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
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        • Celebrate and Build Community
        • Research, interpret and analyze
      • Math
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        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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        • Celebrate and Build Community
      • Math
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        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science
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        • Interactions in Our Environment
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 3
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        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
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        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring Soils
    • Grade 4
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      • English/Language Arts
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        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Patterns and Relations
        • Shape and Space
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        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Habitats
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
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        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Patterns and Relations
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
      • Math
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        • Patterns and Relationships
        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science
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        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
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      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
      • Math
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        • Patterns & Relations
        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
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        • Writing and Other Ways of Representing
      • Math
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        • Patterns & Relations
        • Statistics & Probability
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • To write self - expressive narrative and information -
      • Math
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        • Measurement: Estimating and Measuring
        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living Things
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • To represent her/his literacy in different media
        • To write self - expressive narrative and information -
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Measurement: Estimating and Measuring
        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living Things
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • To represent her/his literacy in different media
        • To write self - expressive narrative and information -
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Represents her/his literacy in different media
      • Math
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        • Statistics and probability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Living World
    • Grade 8
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      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Statistics and probability
      • Science & Technology
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        • The Living World
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 3
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        • Assess and Reflect
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        • Statistics & Probability
      • Science
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        • Exploring Soils
    • Grade 4
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        • Compose and Create
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        • Patterns & Relations
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        • Habitats and Communities
    • Grade 5
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        • Assess and Reflect
      • Math
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        • Mathematics 5: Number
        • Mathematics 5: Statistics and Probability
        • Mathematics 5:Patterns and Relations
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
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        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Assess and Reflect on Language Abilities
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Mathematics 6 : Patterns and Relationships
        • Mathematics 6: Statistics and Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 6: Life Science: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Compose and Create
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Mathematics 7: Patterns and Relations
        • Mathematics 7: Statistics and Probability
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Compose and Create
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Mathematics 8 : Patterns and Relations
        • Mathematics 8: Statistics and Probability
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The likelihood of possible outcomes can be examined, compared, and interpreted
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 3: Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing and interpreting experiments in data probability develops an understanding of chance
        • Polygons are closed shapes with similar attributes that can be described, measured, and compared
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data represented in graphs can be used to show many-to-one correspondence
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 5: Multicellular organisms have organ systems that enable them to survive and interact within their environment.
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from the results of an experiment can be used to predict the theoretical probability of an event and to compare and interpret
        • Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations
        • Properties of objects and shapes can be described, measured, and compared using volume, area, perimeter, and angles
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 6: Multicellular organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce, and interact with their environment.
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring and sharing multiple perspectives extends our thinking.
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Evolution by natural selection provides an explanation for the diversity and survival of living things.
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.

Themes Addressed

Waste Management (3)

  • Composting
  • Solid Waste Disposal
  • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The resource objectively presents the environmental, social and economical impacts of vermicomposters. The resource provides a positive bias with well researched background information from many sources to support the importance vermicomposting.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource addresses many issues including the environmental, social and economical dimensions of reducing organic waste going to the landfill.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

The resource promotes dialogue and exploration of waste issues through a problem-solving approach. The resource informs students about the environmental and social advantages associated with reducing organic waste by vermicomposting.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good

The resource provides an authentic action experience as well as suggesting extension activities to extend the learning. 

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

Through the creation of a mindmap students explore the diverse reasons to care about worms and share their beliefs about organic waste going to the landfill.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The resource encourages students to get to know their worms through discussion and hands-on activities. Encourages students to donate their compost.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good

The resource encourages students to make a personal commitment to reducing the amount of waste that they send to the landfill. Students brainstorm personal commitment options. Find a suitable location for their compost, i.e. donate their compost to a community garden or start your own garden with the class

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The resource takes a look at our present landfill sites and how vermicomposting is one of many options towards reducing waste in the future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The resource includes a variety of different hands-on activities, which encourages students to find as many answers or solutions as possible. Brainstorming, questioning, discussion, designing, and reflection opportunities are included throughout the resource.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and the Arts are integrated into this resource.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The activities are structured to allow students to discover and build knowledge for themselves.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The resource provides a variety of differentiated instruction activities such as:

  • trivia game
  • building a vermicomposter
  • school audit
  • create posters

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good

Students transform classroom learning into community action by building their own vermicomposter.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students participate in a cooperative trivia game and work in groups to build a vermicomposter

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Assessment strategies, journal responses and reflection activities and other strategies are suggested.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Very Good

Students create and present a short educational presentation for each class that receives a vermicomposter.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Through a waste audit students take a look at the waste their class creates.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Extending the learning activities are suggested

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.