Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Promote Global WORMING! Activities, Assessment and Feedback

Worms Live Here, Happy, Hungry Worms! by Buffalo ReUse
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It's time to build a worm home, a vermicomposting container, where you can feed and raise red worms, or tiger worms, that will turn shredded paper and vegetables into new soil for class gardens or potted plants.

This is the culminating event of the "Promote Global WORMING! project. Even though many people have their own methodology for creating worm bins for vermicomposting, I've selected a simple one that can serve as a large group worm bin for an entire class. If the leader, teacher, has enough room, each of the intial four groups would learn the most by making their own worm composting bin to analyze and develop.

Several activities found in the Project WILD Aquatic curriculum guide are related to this study of worm (decomposers) habitats or can be used as extensions. For instance, the "Edge of Home" activity found on pages 75-78, can be used to tie in the connection between aquatic, semi-aquatic and dry land habitats. This activity refers to the study of ecotones, so it would be an excellent extension for upper elementary to adult learners.

Other Project WILD Aquatic lessons and activities should be used or adapted for this project, including another great activity about habitats and riparian areaa, "Blue Ribbon Niche" on pages 52-55. "Wetland Metaphors", on pages 39-42, would help students understand more about the productivity of wetlands where earthworms are part of the decomposer species.

Each group will follow the directions provided and create their own worm bin. Young students will need adult assistance drilling holes in the top bucket. A list of supplies is listed in the instructional website: How To Build An Indoor Worm Composter. This activity is an adaptation of the Project WILD Aquatic project, "Designing a Habitat", found on pages 18-20.

Enjoy the final activities and assessment. Your completion of the feedback survey at the end of this post is greatly appreciated in advance.

Students will:
  1. create a habitat where earthworms, red worms, can thrive and reproduce. The assessment for this objective will be journal keeping, including picture taking until the worms reproduce.
  2. create a graph or chart to measure inputs...the stuff to put in the worm bin.
  3. create a comparison graph to measure outputs...the newly created soil, worm eggs and young worms.
ACTIVITY #1: Using the instructions provided, students will create their habitat. Take pictures to include in their Worm journals. Using this setup described in the directions will eliminate excess "brown water" or fertilizer, and the students will measure the initial inputs, including:
  • worms
  • shredded paper
  • empty buckets
  • vegetable matter
  • any other inputs
As the learners begin journaling, the leader, teacher, would be well served to adapt the Project Wild Aquatic activity, Aquatic Times, found on pages 188-189. The classroom product could be called Decomposer Times or a similar name. Let the learners brainstorm names and vote on the top 5 favorites.

ACTIVITY #2: Each day, student(s) will measure and journal the amounts of added inputs. Students will add pictures to their journal. This activity lends itself to an online journa, including a class wiki.

ACTIVITY #3: When students observe water in the bottom bucket, they should begin recording this in their output charts. Note how long it takes to collect a liter of water, and answer questions such as:
If we aren't adding water to the composting bin, how is it draining into the bottom bucket?

ACTIVITY #4: As students observe the worms in the bin, they will discover eggs and young earthworms. They can include this in their journal writing and take pictures. They will answer questions such as:
How many days did it take for the worms in our bin to reproduce?
How does that compare or contrast to the other groups worm bins?
If there was a significant difference in time needed for worms to reproduce, what may have caused the differences?

Activity #5: This will be the time to have each group share their findings in any type of presentation they choose. After their creations and presentations are given, then given them the post test discussed in the first posting, Promote Global WORMING! Prior Knowledge and Post Project Assessment.

Whenever learning occurs, it's always wonderful to have feedback, so prepare a short survey to answer the questions you may have for your students. This survey was adapted from a more comprehensive Project WILD Aquatic workshop feedback survey. If you would like a copy of the more extensive feedback survey, email me.

Promote Global WORMING! Graphic Organizer

ImageChef Word Mosaic -

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Promote Global WORMING! Decomposers in the Biotic Pyramid

Primary succession, showing small tree growing with small amount of soil by Martin LaBar
Attribution-NonCommercial License
What is a Decomposer? What role do Decomposers play in the process of environmental succession within the Biotic Pyramid? What types of living things are considered Decomposers in the Biotic Pyramid? 

In the process of primary and secondary succession, bare rock becomes covered with plants, as well as animals. At first there is little soil, so life is tenuous. As time goes by, the decomposers and small plants begin to wear down the bare rock, and the variety of  life 

Succession in bodies of water, especially fresh water ponds and lakes is similar to bare rock succession. The difference is that water replaces the rock. Decomposers such as worms depend on a moderate level of water in the soil to survive, so they cannot live in either of the first stages of bare rock succession or pond succession.

To help students gain an understanding of succession, the leader (teacher) will use the Project Wild Aquatic activity, Pond Succession, found on pages 66-68. A fieldtrip to a variety of natural environments in the various stages of succession would be a wonderful way to provide students with an opportunity to see these NATURAL environmental changes.

The Beth Chatto Gardens Float My Boat! by antonychammond (playing catchup!)
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
The objectives of Pond Succession would be the same as that of Bare Rock Succession. If you wanted to substitute Bare Rock Succession for Pond Succession that is fine. Remember our focus is on the worms and similar decomposers, so the students will need information about the worm's habitat. Then the worms can be added into the right stage of either type of succession. The objectives are listed below.
In this activity, students will:
  1. recognize that natural environments are involved in a process of continual change.
  2. discuss the concept of succession.
  3. describe succession as an example of the process of change in natural environments. AND
  4. apply understanding by drawing a series of pictures showing stages in pond succession.
When the learners, students, apply understanding of succession, by drawing a series of pictures, showing stages of succession or keeping a log or diary of a related fieldtrip, the teacher should use this as their evaluation (assessment) for this activity.

Promote Global WORMING! Discover the Worms

Discover the Worms is a basic introduction to the various macroinvertebrates we know of as WORMS. Complete this activity after the PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ASSESSMENT. Based on information gathered from an online search, the students will:

  1. outline the basic ideas of the worm life cycle.
  2. illustrate the worm life cycle.
  3. compare and contrast their life cycle with that of an aquatic macroinvertebrate (see pages 25 and 38 for ideas).
  4. Add words to the Promote Global WORMING that provide more detail about worms.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Promote Global WORMING! Prior Knowledge and Post Project Assessment

Have you considered the various ways to think about this environmental education project? Since it's all about worms, Kitchen Komposting, decomposers and the Biotic Pyramid, it's best to discover what the learners you're working with already know.

I've included this graphic organizer that the wonderful folks at Learning Today created to encourage people to use Bloom's Taxonomy of Thinking. This taxonomy ranges from lower order thinking skills such as remembering to higher order thinking skills such as creating.

For the first activity of the Kitchen Komposting project, the learner will REMEMBER by listing, writing, and naming ideas associated with the four topics listed below.

During this activity, the learners and the teacher can assess BASIC prior knowledge about the topics mentioned here:
  • worms
  • Kitchen Komposting
  • decomposers
  • Biotic Pyramid
  • Gardening
The LIFE SCIENCE benchmark – The student will develop an understanding of biological concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles, and their habitats, Gardening will be the entity to help students evaluate their basic level of remembering, in the manner described in this activity. Gardening is key.

In general, these curriculum standards refer to middle elementary age, but they can be adjusted up or down the age scale. After the pretest, Gardening will be the entity with all its attributes.

Here are the directions for the prior knowledge assessment. These same instructions can be used as a post test. The assessments should be informal and nonthreatening to promote a basic understanding of the topics related to the understanding of the role decomposers, such as worms, play in the real world.
  1. Split the learners in four groups. Give each group a set of cards or sticky notes with their own special symbol or indicate the group doing the writing.
  2. Ask each group to look at each of the four topics and write as many single terms that relate to the topic. Say this: Please think of as many topics that relate to WORM (then Kitchen Komposting, decomposers, the Biotic Pyramid, and Gardening). Write each one on a card or sticky note. Provide 2-3 minutes to list as many as they can. Decrease or increase this time according to the age of the learners.
  3. Each group will take a picture of their list to help them remember their ideas as the project continues throughout our Gardening Inquiry. 
  4. Then the group will take their sticky notes to the appropriate chart paper and place them on it. For instance, everything related to WORM will be placed on the chart paper labeled WORM.
  5. If another group already listed a the same , that's good....they should put their sticky note next to the first one...they will end up with a type of graph or chart.
  6. After all the sticky notes are placed on the appropriate chart paper, a helper, group leader or teacher will take a picture of each chart paper for worms, Kitchen Komposting, etc. These photos will be used to compare to the post test that will be given after the Kitchen Komposting project is complete.
  7. The entire group will focus on the lists and discuss ideas about their choices.
  8. This data analysis can be continued or expanded to include graphing, writing the lists, and other related activities about Gardening.
After the activity is complete, the leader (teacher) should display the images (pictures) that the entire class created...for further reference throughout the Gardening project.

You can also complete a KWHL graphic organizer for the Preassessment. Kitchen Komposting is one PART of the overarching concept, the entity, called gardening. Gardening is the theme that all the attributes belong to. Composting, Worms, Biotic Pyramid, plants, animals, insects, and more all will be covered as attributes of Gardening.

Basically, a Word Wall is created. As an extension activity when the leader/teacher continues the project, each learner could select a few of the words to make big, colorful flash cards for a formalized Word Wall bulletin board. Usually students appreciate these type of thought centering activities to guide the project, and they will want to refer to them often as we begin our Gardening analysis through various inquiries.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Promote Global WORMING!

Yes by looseends
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
Worms support the biotic pyramid, so they make a great metaphor for promoting environmental education among children, as well as adults. The use of worms, especially in composting, is so popular that educators definitely need to include it in any series of environmental education program that addresses the biotic pyramid.

Decomposition is the basis for the survival of the biotic pyramid, and worms make creating a proper decomposition area much easier and safer than many other types of decomposers, like mold or bacteria. In this series of presentations, let's examine how a variety of activities can be used to support this important aspect of environmental education.

While the central project will be to create and keep a "Kitchen Komposter" as a valuable way to live aspects of the Three R's:
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
and learn the fourth R: how to RENEW our biotic pyramid. 

Let's also focus on the role WATER plays in our Kitchen Komposter. Can our microhabitat, the Kitchen KOMPOSTER have:
How can we determine this?

Through a variety of activities, let's also learn 
  1. ways to learn about and express our ideas about the natural world.
  2. what the Biotic Pyramid is.
  3. what types of living things are considered Decomposers in the Biotic Pyramid.
  4. how earthworms ( or other macroinvertebrates) live in their habitat. What is their life cycle?
  5. how the life cycle activities of worms or other macroinvertebrates support water recycling, as well as solid waste recycling. 
  6.  how to simulate or create an environment similar to the natural one where worms live, grow and reproduce.
  7. ways to measure the inputs and outputs of our Kitchen Komposter.
  8. ways to enhance the biotic pyramid through the Kitchen Komposter.
In future posts, Activities and Assessments will be discussed that are aligned with Kansas state curriculum.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friendly Friday: Create a Leaner TwitterStream

How many times have you opened your TwitterStream and discovered that it's overloaded with extraneous Tweets? I did, but now I've narrowed that group to those I want to follow no matter if they reciprocate.

Some of these are Tweets of people who once followed you, yet don't any more. There are a variety of reasons why people stop following you, but the most annoying are those that friend you until you friend them back. When you friend them back, they unfriend you. I don't know anyone who hasn't had this happen.

It's understandable when people unfriend me because they follow me on Plurk or a similar network. I usually go ahead and reciprocate. I unfriend them on Twitter. In the past this has been a bit difficult, but I've found a very helpful Twitter application to help with this process.

Using Friend or Follow helps me sort through those people or organizations and decide who I will continue to follow or unfollow. Another positive aspect of Friend or Follow is that I can use it to find anyone who follows me, that I don't know about. I want to follow people who share interests with me.

In Friend or Follow, you can sort the followers, nonfollowers and friends  by username or several other categories. I used this application to reduce those who don't follow me on Twitter.

I pared this group down to those that I will follow even if they don't follow me.

For instance, I follow Howard Rheingold, but he doesn't follow me. He is very generous and always responds to questions that I've asked him in the past. I will continue to follow him. I follow Starbucks, but they don't follow me on Twitter. That's OK, because we are friends on Facebook.

I used a fairly strict rubric that works for me. Each person needs to develop their own list or reasons for following or unfollowing, and Friend or Follow can help you decide by showing you a list of those who follow, don't follow or mutually follow you on Twitter.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Math In All Its Forms: Diigo Webslides

Whenever you use the Diigo bookmarking web application, you may categorize your bookmarks in lists. Each list will contain all the bookmarks you put in that particular category, such as Math In All Its Forms. When you want to share the list with others, you have many choices, including webslides.

Webslides are screenshots of the front page of each webpage that you bookmarked within a particular list. This webslide presentation contains all the bookmarks for the list: Math In All Its Forms.

For those who cannot use Diigo on your network, you might consider Diigo for Educators. It's self-contained and has no advertisements. You may want to discuss this with the school's technology coordinator and gain access. Even if you can't access Diigo at school, you can use it for your own research and lesson preparation.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday's Simple Subject: Project Your Own IWB

Do you want an interactive whiteboard, but there is no money in the budget for this type of technology?

Well, now you can own a projector that has the capabilities to make any surface an interactive white board, all for a cost of $2,100 or less.

Epson and Boxlight are the two companies who have combined a computer projector with the interactive capabilities of the IWB technologies.

This would be an excellent value for schools that need a projector and want an interactive whiteboard.
clipped from
Epson's new BrightLink 450Wi ultra short-throw projector eliminates the need for a separate IWB.
In a move that could shake up the interactive whiteboard (IWB) market, two projector manufacturers have just released new products that can turn virtually any surface into an IWB.
The development means schools no longer have to buy separate hardware to enjoy the benefits of IWBs, whose interactive surface and ability to engage students have made them quite popular in classrooms.
“We would certainly consider this projector a game-changer,” said Claudine Wolas, project manager for Epson Electronics’ BrightLink 450Wi. “It’s not just the newest and latest in projectors, but in whiteboards as well.”
Epson and Boxlight aren’t the first companies to come out with technology that can turn any flat surface into an IWB.
But to use these other systems, schools will still need a digital projector—whereas Epson’s and Boxlight’s solutions are self-contained.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Specifics: Add aBowman Gadget

Gadgets, also called widgets, can really enhance your website. There are a number of gadgets that can be added from your Blogger dashboard, and one of the more interesting groups of widgets are the animations created by Adam Bowman who lives in Hallowell, Maine.

Teachers will find many uses for these gadgets, as several of them are actually learning tools. There are several animal animations, as well as some Physics gadgets.

Fish: "Add a touch of nature to your page with these hungry little fish.  Watch them as they follow your mouse hoping you will feed them by clicking the surface of the water."

While I'm demonstrating Adam's fish widget, I'd also recommend another of his most interesting gadgets called COINS. The gadgets are mouse activated, so use your mouse to make the coins move and even spin.

Enjoy these gadgets on your own or with your students.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Specifics: Baby Callie, A Casualty of the Unvaccinated

This little piggy (EXPLORED) by Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography
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  • Baby Callie, died this year, 2010, because someone who was not vaccinated gave her pertussis, also called "Whooping Cough". This disease is a scary way for a baby to die. 
  • Are you vaccinated? 
  • Is your family vaccinated?
If you or your family are not vaccinated, I hope you will avoid contact with others. You have the potential to be death dealers.
clipped from

Baby Callie was a miracle baby to Katie and Craig VanTourhout of South Bend, Ind. After four miscarriages, Katie VanTourhout got pregnant again in 2009 and this time it was a success.

It was an easy, healthy pregnancy, VanTourhout said her doctors told her. Her doctor made sure she had flu shots, she said. And then, six weeks before she was due, Callie Grace was born on Christmas Day.

But when Callie was a couple weeks old, she developed a cough, so the VanTourhouts checked in with their pediatrician.

Although Katie VanTourhout said doctors told them it was nothing too serious, the cough persisted, and during a return visit to the doctor, Callie stopped breathing and was rushed to the hospital.

Two days later, at 38 days old, Callie stopped breathing again and could not be saved.
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