Fourth-grade teachers Denise Barone and Stephanie Varlan at Fairbanks Road Elementary School recently stood aside and welcomed a group of special guest instructors — sixth-grade composting experts from Churchville-Chili Middle School.
FRS students broke up into small groups, each led by a team of older student educators who shared research and facts about reducing waste and improving soil by making compost.
Each collaborative middle school team selected a different approach to explaining what composting is and its benefits. They created skits, videos, posters and digital presentations that demonstrated different aspects of composting. Many included humor or opportunities for younger students to ask questions and contribute ideas. Each group had a lesson plan to introduce their audience to the science of recycling organic materials.
The project was the brainchild of middle school science teachers Julie Irvine and Maria Straight.
“Our kiddos are extremely proud of the work they’ve done in this unit,” Irvine said. “It’s been structured as a project-based learning experience, giving students an end educational goal, but letting them set out on their own and choose their own creative ways to get there. To share what they learned with younger students was the ultimate reward for all their hard work. They were really honored to be role models for the FRS kids.”
“Our fourth-graders are excited about going to the middle school next year, but some are a little apprehensive,” Varlan said. “This gave them a fun preview of what to expect when they move on. The older students were kind, organized and thoughtful, and they took their responsibilities as teachers very seriously.”