Earthworms

Ms. F. is planning and teaching a unit that provides students with the opportunity to understand the science in the K-4 Life Science Content Standard. She plans to do this through inquiry. Of the many organisms she might choose to use, she selects an organism that is familiar to the students, one that they have observed in the schoolyard. As a life-long learner, Ms. F. uses the resources in the community, a local museum, to increase her knowledge and help with her planning. She also uses the resources of the school—materials available for science and media in the school library. She models the habits and values of science by the care provided to the animals. Students write and draw their observations. Developing communication skills in science and in language arts reinforce one another.

[This example highlights some elements of Teaching Standards A, B, D, and E; Professional Development Standard C; K-4 Content Standards A and C; Program Standards B and D; and System Standard D.]

While studying a vacant lot near school, several of Ms. F.'s third-grade students became fascinated with earthworms. Although she had never used earthworms in the science classroom before, and she knew she could use any of a number of small animals to meet her goals, Ms. F. felt she could draw from her experience and knowledge working with other small animals in the classroom. She called the local museum of natural history to talk with personnel to be sure she knew enough about earthworms to care for them and to guide the children's explorations. She learned that it was relatively easy to house earthworms over long periods. She was told that if she ordered the earthworms from a biological supply house, they would come with egg cases and baby, earthworms and the children would be able to observe the adult earthworms, the egg cases, the young earthworms, and some of the animal's habits.

Before preparing a habitat for the earthworms, students spent time outdoors closely examining the environment where the worms had been found. This field trip was followed by a discussion about important aspects of keeping earthworms in the classroom: How would students create a place for the earthworms that closely resembled the natural setting? An earthworm from outside was settled into a large terrarium away from direct sun; black paper was secured over the sides of the terrarium into which the children had put soil, leaves, and grass. A week later the earthworms arrived from the supply company and were added to the habitat.

Ms. F. had been thinking about what she wanted the children to achieve and the guidance she needed to give. She wanted the students to become familiar with the basic needs of the earthworms and how to care for them. It was important that the children develop a sense of responsibility toward living things as well as enhance their skills of observation and recording. She also felt that this third grade class would be able to design simple experiments that would help the students learn about some of the behaviors of the earthworms.

In the first 2 weeks, the students began closely observing the earthworms and recording their habits. The students recorded what the earthworms looked like, how they moved, and what the students thought



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement