Having the Last Word: Writing Conclusions and Peer Editing

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Objective

SWBAT provide a concluding section that follows from and supports the argument presented by writing a concluding paragraph for their choice read long composition.

Big Idea

The conclusion is like the big bow on top of the gift: it's the final touch that can make all the difference, so let's spend some time really thinking about what to say.

Getting Started

5 minutes

Students are coming today with a rough draft of their essay, sans conclusion. I will ask that students put all the necessary items-- prompt, outline, draft, and and model long composition-- on their desk. 

Conclusions

20 minutes

Students have completed most of their essay, but before breaking off into groups, I want to focus on conclusions with them (W.9-10.1e). I always tell them that it would be shame to spend so much time writing a great essay and then just putter out in the end. The conclusion is the last impression that a writer leaves with his or her audience, so instead of merely repeating what has already been said, it should pull everything together in a new way or introduce a compelling, related idea.

Students already have these two resources in their writing folders: a worksheet which lists ways to approach the conclusion and a model conclusion from the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay. We will review these resources. Specifically, I will ask how the model conclusion fulfills one or more of the approaches listed on the worksheet. This question will get the students thinking about ways to write their conclusion and how they might structure it. Then I will give them time to work on their conclusions.

The Peer Editing Pass

30 minutes

For the last half of class, students will work on groups of five or six for my version of peer editing (W.9-10.5). I have assigned the groups according to the students' strengths and weaknesses as writers. I tried to arrange each group so that everyone feels able to help someone else in a particular area. Each person in the group is responsible for one element of the essay and read for that element:

Thesis and Topic Sentences

Theme

Textual Details

Sentence Structure: Fragments and Run-ons

Spelling and Punctuation

Transitions

Each group sits in a circle and passes the essays to the left. Here they are at work. They have eight minutes to read each essay; it is not a lot of time, but they are only reading for specific details. Plus, I've found that at this level, peer editing doesn't make a huge difference; they just don't know enough themselves to truly and effectively help someone else. I utilize it as a way for students to feel responsible for helping others. Here is an example of what an essay can look at after a full round of editing.

I also think it helpful for students to see the different ways of approaching writing. So often, students want to do better, but they don't know what it looks like; this format provides the opportunity to learn from others, while also helping them.

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I will remind them of their homework and give them a chance to write it in their agenda books: they need to prepare a polished final draft for homework. They will need to hand in their outline and rough draft with the final version. I want to see how their writing progressed throughout the process.