Think of two of your favorite stories, books, or movies. How do they end? Do they wrap everything up nice and neatly? Do they leave you with something to think about? Why does an author need to write a satisfying ending?
The thesis statement is the roadmap. The body paragraphs are the stops along your roadtrip. The only thing that's left is your conclusion--the return trip. Let's say that your trip took you to Phoenix. Your conclusion is what takes you back home to Flagstaff. You see the same signs as when you traveled down the hill, but you see it with new eyes. That's the conclusion.
There's only two parts to a successful conclusion--the restated thesis statement and the deep thought. A successful conclusion is only four to five sentences long. You don't want to draw it out too far; you just want to get home.
The first thing is the restated thesis statement. You remind your reader of the main points of your essay. You certainly don't want to repeat the thesis statement word for word, because your reader will think that you think that they're stupid. They're not stupid, they just need a brief reminder of where you took them in the essay. You say the same thing, but in different words. You repeat the big ideas so the reader remembers them, but you put it a different way.
In the picture above, you can compare my original thesis to my restated thesis. The same ideas are repeated, but I state it a different way. How many times can I repeat this same thought, but put it a different way?
Once you've reminded your reader of your main ideas, you leave them with something to think about. This slide shows student some suggestions, and yes, some are very similar to introduction techniques. Sometimes I think of the conclusion as an introduction, but in reverse order.
For my conclusion, I chose explain why the actions of the Little Rock Nine was important--they were fighting for their own rights, but also for the rights of others. I also left the reader with a suggested result of what might have happened if the Little Rock Nine hadn't stood their ground--we might still have segregated schools today.
Once I've modeled my conclusion, I directed students to write their own concision by revisiting their thesis statement and body paragraphs.
I posted the rules of the Writing Workshop that I showed students yesterday.
Bottom line for today? They needed to have a completely revised essay, because tomorrow we'd be going to the computer lab to make the revision changes on the computer.
I also made sure to keep the Concluding Paragraph Don'ts posted. I've drilled it in to their heads that they NEVER EVER EVER EVER start an essay or paragraph with "I'm going to write about," but I haven't quite drilled it in that the conclusion has the same rules. The drilling begins today.
For closure, I asked the students to tell me what they wanted from me the next day. Since we'd be going to the computer lab to type final drafts, what did they want?
How do you feel about going to the computer lab tomorrow to get your final drafts typed up? What do you think you need from me tomorrow to be successful? What do you want me to remind you of tomorrow before the typing session?
Thanks to Google maps for the background for today's lesson picture.