School-Wide Composting

Teacher(s): _________________________________________________________________________
Main Contact: ______________________ Phone: _______________ Email: ____________________
Date: _____________ Building: ____________________________ Grade Level: ___All______
First Trimester: ____X_____ Second Trimester: ____X_____ Third Trimester: ____X____
First Semester: ___________ Second Semester: __________

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

The school will engage in a school-wide Service Learning Composting Project. One class can organize the entire project or multiple classes can handle specific elements of the project. Regardless of the number of classes coordinating the effort, all students are able to participate and contribute to the composting project through lunchroom disposal of foods for composting.


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

There is a need in our community to learn and engage in sustainable practices. It is important that we learn to use all the resources available to us in the most responsible and efficient manner. Wise use of resources includes decreasing use, recycling, and transforming for alternative uses. This project will teach students to transform garbage into nutrient rich soil. This soil can then be used in the raised garden beds, another proposed project, or can be donated to a community garden.

What service will you provide to address the need?

Student service will take place in four phases. Phase 1 will include research, creating the composting plan, getting proper approvals from the principle, mapping out the composting area, and building or securing the composting bins. In Phase 2, students will write and implement the lunchroom disposal plan to effectively sort the garbage for use in composting. This phase involves actively educating peers on the process and campaigning for school-wide compliance and participation. Phase 3 runs concurrent to Phase 2 and involves the active maintenance of the compost pile, dumping garbage, proper mixing of contents, coverage, and rotation of contents. Phase 4 involves use of the nutrient rich soil. If the school is also engaging in the Raised Garden Bed Project, students will use the compost to fill the raised garden beds. In the absence of a Raised Garden Bed Project, students can donate the soil to a community garden or other non-profit in the community.


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?


  • Researching the composting process
  • Charting the bacteria growth
  • Observing and documenting the process of decay
  • Discussing how each necessary element influences the composting process. For example, what is the role of heat?


  • Map out composting area
  • Calculate proper percentages and ratios for mixing
  • Organize the scheduled rotation and mixing of contents
  • Project out the cycle of each compost batch
  • Figure out how much nutrient rich soil will be yielded by various quantities of garbage
  • Prepare a cost/benefit analysis of the project. Taking into consideration the savings in trash removal cost plus the value of the soil produced minus any expenses of the project

Art and/or Computers

  • Create layout and artwork for brochures designed to educate students on the process
  • Create layout and artwork for posters and flyers to promote school-wide engagement
  • Create signage for the lunchroom disposal process to increase student compliance with disposal process


  • Create text for brochures
  • Create text for posters and flyers for advertising
  • Review and edit text submitted by fellow students on the composting process
  • Write a venture grant to Michigan Campus Compact for supplies and tools
  • Write stories on the project to submit to the Rapidian, Grand Rapids Press, and other media outlets


  • Research the most cost effective compost bin design
  • Build the compost bins
  • Design unique tools to be used in composting process
  • Create signage to label compost areas or batches of compost

Social Studies/Geography

  • Research the evolution of human use of natural resources
  • Research sustainable cultures
  • Work with science classes to compare the earth’s natural processes of decay to the processes prescribed in composting
  • Work with Science classes to help design a composting process that incorporates learning from the earth’s natural processes, earlier civilization, and other cultures
  • Provide English classes with factual content for brochures, posters, etc.


  • Create public service announcements to raise community awareness
  • Work with English students to write and publish stories on the school’s project
  • Contact TV stations to arrange for interviews on the news
  • Think about and develop plans to increase student compliance with the proper disposal rules
  • Create a plan to effectively implement a grassroots campaign
  • Use video and writing to document development of the project

What are the educational goals?

The educational goals will be determined by the content specific curriculum of your class. Please see the above for potential curricular connections. In addition to the core content of your discipline, please also consider the general civic skills your students will be learning

  • Communication
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Social Responsibility
  • Critical thinking/problem solving


Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: Teacher will need to determine based on curriculum being taught.

Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project.


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

Reflections can be carried out individually or in groups and include a wide range of methodology.

• Engage in open reflection sharing as a class discussion.
• Students can write out responses individually and teachers can select (with student permission) some to share to begin a large group discussion.
• Provide specific discussion questions in large or small groups that challenge students to critically think about their service experiences.
• Students can write reflection papers.
• Provide magazine pictures and asked student to create an individual collage that best exemplifies their learning.
• Provide a table full of trinkets and then allow students to select a few different objects that represent their reflections across different levels (see description of levels of reflection above). Have the students take turns sharing the objects they chose and why.
• Create a collage of photographs relevant to the service and ask students to write reflective captions surrounding the photo. You could do one photo on a large poster board to allow diverse reflections.
• Watch a video, YouTube, or documentary to elicit discussion about critical issues that relate to the ASL project.
• Find and attend relevant community events and then process the event as a group afterwards.
• Create a video that captures the project and watch as a team and share reflections.
• Consider, discuss, and engage in action to effect change. For example, create and submit a proposed solution, contact government officials to support a cause, create a community forum, or create an alliance.


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(i.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

• Cultural – students will be working with one another in diverse teams. Students of all ethnic backgrounds will be working together. Students will also be researching and learning about how other cultures have used and cared for natural resources. In Phase 5, students will be connected with diverse individuals in the community through distribution of raised garden beds or donation of the nutrient rich soil.
• Interdisciplinary – Students will be working across disciplines and will therefore be challenged to think from an interdisciplinary perspective.
• Diverse Teaching and Learning Styles – Academic Service Learning provides a natural forum for expression of all teaching and learning styles, including visual, auditory, tactile, theory driven and applied learning.
• Generational – Students will be working directly with teachers, experts, elders in the community and one another, all as a group of peers.
• SES – students will be working with individuals of all socio-economic statuses. Students may be consulting with experts in the field of sustainability or may be working side by side with community members receiving services from non-profits.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

Students will maintain ownership throughout the entire process. Students will actively research, design, implement, promote, monitor, and use the final product. Students will work actively to solve problems encountered at each Phase of the composting project. Students will come to appreciate the difficulty of gaining buy-in across the student body. When this happens, students will demonstrate a deep commitment and responsibility to the project as they work to gain increased compliance from their peers.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

• Teachers can partner to work collaboratively on this project
• Lowes, Home Depot, or another Hardware may be contacted to donate initial supplies
• Kent/MSU Master Gardeners or other agricultural center may be contacted for technical composting assistance
• Teachers might also involve non-profit community partners for distribution of nutrient rich soil in community gardens

How will students benefit from this partnership?

• Students will gain an interdisciplinary perspective if teachers actively collaborate on the composting project
• If a Hardware donates supplies, it will free up grant funding for other projects
• Kent/MSU Master Gardeners or other agricultural center may provide students with technical composting assistance
• Involvement of non-profits for distribution of soil will help to connect students in the community and provide them with the sense of pride and accomplishment that results from contributing to the community

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

• Teachers will benefit from collaboration by decreasing the workload on any one teacher, the development of a collegial environment, shared passion with other teachers, and the ability to teach to a variety of learning styles
• The Hardware supplier could be given recognition for contributions in brochures, publications, signage, etc. (Please follow grant rules regarding public mention of funding)
• The agricultural center will benefit by direct fulfillment of its mission to teach others sustainable practice.
• Non-profits will derive the direct benefit of the nutrient rich soil for community gardens or use in the raised garden beds. In either case, the compost project will ultimately provide community members with fresh and healthy foods



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Assessment will vary by discipline and level of project engagement.

How will you assess your service goals?

Assessment will vary by discipline and level of project engagement.



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

This project provides the opportunity for full engagement or less intense engagement. Teachers may decide to develop the year’s curriculum around the compost project or may decide to dedicate engagement to certain modules of learning. Assessment will vary by discipline and level of project engagement.



The three arms of sustainability are environmental stewardship, economic growth, and social progress. Think planet, profit, and people.

Describe how your project addresses the issue of sustainability?

Sustainable Practice

This project decreases the need for trash removal from school property, potentially saving money for the school, particularly if the school is charged by volume of trash.

The project further teaches students, staff, and teachers to be aware of and use resources wisely.

This project will decrease the need to purchase soil for the raised garden bed project.

Incorporating both the composting and raised garden projects increases the depth of learning and value to the community.

Project Sustainability

Initial costs for this project are quite minimal; composting bins, coverage, and garden tools. The rest of the project is self-sustaining. The project itself relies on a grass roots effort to change consumer/disposal behavior. Once these systems and processes are implemented and practiced school-wide, composting will become part of the school culture. Sustainability of this project will only be contingent on at least one teacher’s commitment to continue to maintain the composting maintenance.