This was a really great inquiry and I feel that the students were able to walk away with a lot of new knowledge and we were able to dispel any myths about recycling. I chose this inquiry because it is a standard I have to teach as a fifth grade classroom teacher. I liked how the kids were able to have a hands-on activity to teach them about recycling. The part on composting was eye-opening because so many students thought that most food waste is garbage, but we were able to prove that idea wrong! I liked using the "expert" groups to teach each other about recycling for the various types of materials. I feel like the kids really took ownership with that piece of the lesson.
We completed this inquiry because it meets the Mason Heights Science objective that students will describe ways to conserve resources by recycling, reusing, or decreased use. My students and I both really enjoyed this inquiry! The students actively participated in the group discussion of what objects were and weren't recyclable, and there was even some (friendly!) disagreement within groups as to whether an object was indeed recyclable. Instead of passing out the student information pages of metals, paper, etc., we read those sections in Gail Gibbon's book Recycle! A Handbook For Kids (ISBN 0-316-30943-5). Although each student was part of an 'expert group', each created a poster. Afterward, we had an excellent discussion about appropriate places to hang the posters (putting the metal posters in the cafeteria, the paper posters in the computer lab, etc.) The students were so excited to participate in this inquiry, and felt much pride in their posters; and they've been much more aware and considerate of their consumption in the classroom ever since!
We were doing a unit on natural resources and how to conserve them. I liked that the students brought in their own "trash" and were then able to see whether or not the items they regularly use were recyclable. I loved the expert groups and the knowledge that gained from breaking up that way. I thought that having each student bring in 10 items (5 trash, 5 recyclable) was too much. We would have had plenty of items to do the activity if they had only brought 2 items (1 trash, 1 recyclable) each. The unit we were studying in our textbook talked a lot about what was recyclable. We used this information as well as information that we found on the Rumpke website. My student's loved this. They gained a tremendous amount of knowledge. Predictably they relied on the recycling symbols to make there original hypothesis and found that they didn't work very well.
I chose this inquiry because when we completed something like it at workshop, I learned so much. Most kids don't realize even if a product has a recycle symbol, it doesn't mean it is recyclable. The students enjoyed this lesson. They seemed to learn a lot. Some of them knew most of the information. For most of them this was new information. A few problems I had with the lesson were: 1. It says to look at background page for definitions of solid waste, waste reduction, and natural resource and there are no definitions to be found. 2. The proficiency assessmetn isn't testing what students learned from this activity. 3. It was a little unclear on how to set up the expert groups. I ended up starting with every student in one group having the same information page. They read it and shared within group, the main points to share with the others. Then I regrouped them so there was one of each type of waste in the group and they shared within that group. The we had a class discussion of what we learned. This worked well for me. After reading "Where Does My Garbage Go" we talked about how we can re-use trash for other things. Then we had the students either make something out of the trash they brought in for the activity or trash from home. The students were excited about this. The brought the items in and shared them. It was really neat to see what the kids cam up with. This inquiry took me 4 classes periods which are 50 minutes long, total 200 minutes.
I taught this unit to my 3rd grade class whom I meet with on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was surprised at how much they already knew about recycling. They were able to sort the materials fairly easily. They were exposed to percentages and adding decimals on the data sheet. We did some additional extension activities which included taking a survey to find out how many families recycle, and what, how, and where they recycle materials. This sampling showed that aluminum was recycled most often, paper was second, followed by glass and plastic (only 1 and 2), and lastly organic wastes. We were pleased to find that more than half of the families asked did recycle something. Next we collected scrap paper and, using a blender, made recycled paper. This activity was a big hit! We also identified all the ways in which we reuse items in our classroom from coffee can containers to "junk" for projects, and beads made from the Sunday comics. While talking about recycling plastic, we did a little research on polymers (Story Science - Watch Your Step Mr.Rabbit) and made GLUEP (borax/water solution mixed with Elmer's Glue). They loved it!
March 3-7: Students brought in trash and recyclable items.
March 10: Began the lesson by breaking students down into pre-assigned groups. Passed out the trash and had students separate trash into two groups. Then passed out the data sheet (I modified it for primary and attached it to this document.) and gave the students time to complete it. The Thinksheet was distributed next, but I feel that it is too difficult for third grade. I plan to rewrite it for our grade level, also. Because of a very short class period, I moved the students ahead and sacrificed the written answer in order to form expert groups and be ready for class tomorrow. I prepared well ahead of time for this inquiry. I feel much better prepared than I did the last time. I am disappointed in my students written abilities, but if I rewrite the Thinksheet on a level better suited to them, they will probably do much better. The students seemed interested in this activity and were enthusiastic for tomorrow's lesson.
March 11: By the time we revisited what we did yesterday and started on our posters, we were OUT OF TIME! Furthermore, a couple of the groups did not follow directions and started making their posters about all recyclables, not just their expert groups. We definitely lost ground today.
March 12: I set a timer and gave the students a set time to finish the posters. We then shared what we learned and discussed each material. Students then resorted trash and completed the data sheet. Students were surprised that not all plastics were recycled everywhere. Some students already knew because of our community recycling project, but all-in-all, students seemed to learn something they didn't know before.
March 17: I gave the students a modified proficiency assessment and worked with them to complete the first half. Although the bar graph they created clearly showed that business and school recycling kept the most resources out of the landfill, students generally had the tendency to answer that home recycling (deluxe) was more effective because of the variety of items collected. Furthermore, they said that it keeps you from throwing away so many things at home. This is a valid and logical conclusion for students to draw. The majority of their trash at school is paper, but at home they throw away a variety of recyclables.
March 19: Today we wrote the letter to the mayor of Dumptown.
Reflections: This was a successful lesson in that my students had a working knowledge of the topic, yet had a lot to learn. It was very hands-on and engaging. The students enjoyed making posters and giving presentations. I will definitely use this unit again, but with more modification of think sheets (my students did not even complete them because of the difficulty), data sheets, and proficiency assessment. The timing of this course could not have been worse for me in this district. We had so many snow days and the crunch of proficiency testing have really strained my teaching this quarter. In the future, I hope to have the time to fully explore each unit and have the time to give them justice.
I chose to do this inquiry because it fit in well with my lesson "Waste Watchers". In my lesson students track the amount of waste that students produce in the lunchroom over the course of two weeks. We then encourage recycling of all materials we can, and we again track the amount of waste produce. My students are looking for, and often see, a significant change in the amount of waste produced when students recycle. I liked that this inquiry went over some misconceptions about what is garbage and what is recyclable. I did encounter a problem with the students pages but the information that you can find online about recycling is overly abundant. In going along with the lesson I already use, this inquiry can help a teacher to take it to the next level. Just talking about recycling is good, getting the students involved in the actual process of recycling is much better. My students wrote letters to Rumpke to try to find the best method for our school to begin a working recycling program. They have covered writing a professional letter in their language arts class. We also go into math and the metric conversions when the students spend 4-5 weeks weighing waste and recording their data. We also chart the data and calculate percentages. This topic of recycling led to some excellent discussions. (Great for writing topics as well) We spent time discussing viable options for waste removal when Rumpke dump fills up. Students are very interested about what will happen and where we will put all of the garbage. The ideas that they give can lead to some interesting discussions between and among the students.
I chose this inquiry because we have a pretty good recycling program here in Brown County. I thought it would not only be beneficial for me to teach, but also for the students to become more aware and be able to put their knowledge to good use. I liked this inquiry because I learned some things that I didn't know. For example, I learned that just because a plastic item has the "recycling symbol" on it, does not mean that I can recycle it in my area or at all. I also liked it for the students because I knew they had a limited knowledge of recycling because of the local program. It could extend their knowledge further than if they had had no background knowledge at all. If this had been my own classroom in a self-contained situation and no time constraints for the sake of this class, I would have liked to have extended the lesson throughout the year to incorporate guest speakers and by implementing a recycling program at the school. I may try to do it anyway within the confines of my own classroom. My wife and I collaborated to create a modified data sheet that was more suitable to the third grade. It included choices that could be circled rather than requiring writing. This freed the students up to focus on the inquiry rather than on spelling, handwriting, etc.
We chose this inquiry because it was a great way to incorporate the new recycling program that was started in Lockland, November 1. The students were introduced to the program when they attended an assembly and took a field trip to the new center. The inquiry was a perfect blend of hands on activity and research that reinforced the local recycling program. It educated the students and made them aware of the importance of recycling in a manner that should enable them to take the information and start using the program at home. One suggestion would be to gather the recycling materials instead of allowing the students the responsibility. They only brought in a few things and they were too repetitive. We also added a "TOTALS" column so that the students were able to combine all of the tonnage of yard wastes for each program. This helped them to better compare each program and make better decisions about how their budget could be spent to increase their total yield of recycled material. The Higher-Level Thinking Assessment was quite difficult because of our student's lack of experience with these critical thinking skills. With much patience and coaxing along with more exposure to this method, they will improve and find the sheets more to their ability levels. The Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services did an in-service in our classroom on recycling to kick off their opening of a new recycling center in Lockland. We also attended the grand opening celebration since the location is one block from our school. After the inquiry some of our fifth grade students were able to assist the second grade students doing a recycling activity. They were able to apply their knowledge and led the second grade expert groups. This was a beneficial experience for both of the grades.
and Paul Strotman
I chose this inquiry because I felt that my students did not have a very clear concept of recycling and reusing. On the first day when I asked the class how many students recycled and only two raised their hands, my fears were made clear. A drop-off bin was just placed a few miles from the school and students had seen it while riding the bus. This provided a great basis for researching recycling in our area. This lesson could lead to all sorts of wonderful things in the classroom. This would be a great lesson to start the school year with. The next time I teach this lesson I will provide the class with several examples of recyclable and nonrecyclable materials that could represent more of a variety than I saw the first time.
I chose this inquiry because I felt that my students needed to know what recycling was for the proficiency. The students were very excited about bringing in their garbage. I was afraid that some students wouldn't bring in their items and wouldn't be able to participate (100% of the class brought their items.). I had the students place their items into two piles. One for recyclable and one for non-recyclable. They discussed their observations about the piles and found that more things were recyclable than non-recyclable. I put together an expert team to divide the items into the two categories based upon the recyclable symbol. The students were amazed that using this theory the piles were the same. Many questions came about during this process such as, "Why doesn't the 7-up liter bottle have a recycling symbol and the Mountain Dew liter bottle does?" The students were starting to think on their own and ask, "Why????" But then I had the students take the items in the non-recyclable pile and tell me whether it could be recycled based upon the information they knew about recycling. Then they found that 95% of the pile was recyclable and 5% non-recyclable. After the activity, I read the Just a Dream (great book!) listed in your Related Resources link and the students continued to ask questions and make comments about recycling. I also use the Thinksheets, Data Sheets and Proficiency Assessment. The Proficiency Assessment was a little difficult for the fourth graders until I explained how to read the table. I don't know why they couldn't figure out the table. We use tables on a weekly basis--maybe is how is was laid out. Maybe you could have the students construct a table using the information...The students did however enjoy working with a partner and writing the letter. (this was good because it connected to our fourth grade letter writing objectives). I used the book Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (from the Related Resources link) as a read aloud and then had the students compare and contrast more information about what things could be recycled--not just trash. After this I had them retell the story with a partner. Which they really liked doing. I have to say when the students first began the activity they had a hard time with the Thinksheet, but once we got started they began to see the whole picture and were very excited about the activity. Thank you!!!
I chose this inquiry for two reasons. First because Lockland implemented a recycling center in the community last fall. The students participated in a whole group activity with someone from the recycling center. Also, as we worked through our unit on animal habitats we wrapped up discussing ways humans play a part in the destruction of habitats. We learned about pollution and recycling and brainstormed ways to improve the environment. This was a great lead in to the inquiry. Finally, the two fifth grade teachers I am working with also did this inquiry and it was a great way for me to plan with them and involve their students. I liked this inquiry because the students had the opportunity to sort through the recyclables at two different times. They also had a fifth grader to work with while they sorted and predicted the first time. After their expert groups and a lot of discussion as whole group with me, they were surprised at how much easier it was to identify recyclables with their new found knowledge. They would say, "Does it have a number?" " That isn't paper--it is cardboard." It was very exciting for me to facilitate. I had to change a lot with this inquiry. Not because it wouldn't work--it was just too difficult for my second grade students. I tried the expert groups with the pages provided, but this was too difficult because it was not precise enough. I even had a fifth grade student as the expert in each group to teach the children since the reading was too difficult. But I felt it was too abstract and the students needed some exact information about each group. They understood that metal couldn't be recycled if there was other material with it, but they started to think too big. They wanted to talk about car parts and school desks (which is great that they are extending their thinking but I needed examples that would relate to what was in our bag of trash). I decided to bring them back together as a whole group and have the experts, as a group, tell me about what they learned. We listed those ideas on the board and then I told the whole class what Lockland would let them recycle and we listed those items on the board. We moved to the next group and did the same thing. Each time we started large and then discussed what Lockland would accept. When we finished we brainstormed items that would not be recyclable in Lockland and listed those below in the "No" column. I also changed the final evaluation. We created a mobile with the groups we learned about and a picture that depicted the group. The lesson took a very long time. I put in 6 hours of class time for this inquiry. This would be different the next time because I know what to skip now. I depended on my science text to introduce students to habitats and the importance of recycling to keep those habitats healthy for the plants and animals. I also used resources from Rumpke and Hamilton County Environmental Services to connect this lesson to the real world for my students. I also used the library to find fiction and non-fiction literature about recycling. The Mailbox 1999-2000 Yearbook also helped me find the mobile idea. The students also received an activity book from Hamilton County Environmental Services called Let's Learn the Three R's. I liked this inquiry because it gave the students opportunities to see their learning. They were very surprised at how many items they thought were recyclable before and the number that was recyclable after their expert groups. This was a great cooperative learning activity and a wonderful chance for the older students to show off their knowledge.
The Internet links
in this activity were a wonderful way to reinforce the Reduce, Reuse,
Precycle, Recycle motto.