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 words 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
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, will be evaluated on the basic level of remembering, in the manner described in this activity.

In general, the benchnmarks refer to middle elementary age, but they can be adjusted up or down the age scale.

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 words that relate to the topic. Say this: Please think of as many words that relate to the word WORM (then Kitchen Komposting, decomposers, and Biotic Pyramid). Write each word on one 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 word lists to help them remember their ideas as the project continues. 
  4. Then the group will take their sticky notes to the appropriate chart paper and place them on it. For instance, all the words that are related to WORM will be placed on the chart paper labeled WORM.
  5. If another group already listed their word, that's good....they should put their sticky note next to theirs...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.
After the activity is complete, the leader (teacher) should display the images (pictures) that the entire class created...for further reference throughout the project.

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.

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