This is our 4th and final unit on expository writing. In our last unit on Sharks, our "excellent ending" lesson worked so well that I knew we needed to continue our work on excellent endings and keep working toward mastery. As we are still working on writing informational text based on our research, we are still addressing standard W1.2 in this lesson.
As accomplished readers, we adults know that an author needs to wrap up the story so the reader knows without a doubt the story has come to a close and is left with an effective closing thought. As novice writers, students think that endings such as, "The End ...", "I hope you liked my story ...", or, the ever popular ending for narratives, "and then I went home ...", are great ways to end stories. It's time to give students some other, more effective options.
I only have 30 minutes to teach writing each day. It did take me more than one day to do this lesson. You can modify this lesson so it fits your schedule too. For today's lesson, you will need the either the Smartboard Excellent Endings.notebook or the Activboard Excellent Endings.flipchart lesson. You will also wan to make enough Excellent Ending Bookmarks.pdf for each of your students.
I called my students to the carpet to sit in front of the Smartboard. I brought up the Smartboard lesson and then stated today's objective. I said, "Today we are going to review how to wrap up our elephant writing by reviewing our excellent endings. Remember, an author ends their story with a closure, so the reader knows that the story has come to an end. Let's look at the different ways that an author does this."
We went through the different ways an author creates endings. The Smartboard lesson shows some examples and then gives the students some opportunities to write the different strategies as well. Since we had already done this lesson with our Shark unit, I approached the content a bit differently today. I said, "Let's be creative. We know we need to use three different strategies to make a good, solid ending. Let's work on creating endings for these same pictures in a different way than we did before. This way you can see that you can make lots of different combinations, and your endings can still be as strong as they were with your previous combiniations." The different ways that I put on the Smartboard lesson (and the bookmark) are:
We did some guided practice. I projected the pictures on our Smartboard lesson. I have taught my class to combine 3 different options (from the above list) to create their ending. I would call one student up at a time. They would pick an option and use it as part of the ending. Once three students had picked and written the three sentences for the ending, we stepped back to read what had been written. We talked about how you can put any 3 ways together as long as their writing made sense. If the ending didn't make sense, we talked about ways we could revise in order to make our ending make sense.
Then I said, "Remember the bookmarks with the different ways to make endings? It has all the different ways listed. You are going to go back to your seat and write your endings in the last box of your flow map. Remember, you have to have 3 different ways - so 3 sentences in your last box. Are there any questions?" My students didn't have questions so they went back to their seats and got to work.
After creating their excellent endings, I had my students read their entire ending to make sure that all the sentences fit together and flowed well. It's important to have your students make sure that their closure doesn't sound like a disjointed afterthought. The reader needs to understand that the story is being wrapped up, and the ending needs to make sense and flow from the rest of the paragraph.
Most of my students took about 10 minutes to make their endings. Some of my more advanced students took about 5 minutes, so I had them share their endings with me. I have a video of two of my advanced students sharing with me with what they had chosen to make their excellent endings and then they read their whole ending to me. You can see them here: How We Made our Excellent Endings - Elephants.mp4 .
After videoing those two students, I walked around the classroom, letting the students be in control of their writing and make the decisions they wanted to. If I saw a problem with conventions I would ask a question such as, "How do we start a sentence? What kind of punctuation does this sentence need?" There were times when I would say, "O.K. you've got your first sentence. You need two more." It was my turn to step back and let the students take the lead with their learning. I wanted my students to make their own choices on what to choose for their endings, read their writing to make sure it made sense, and be creative.
I had my students talk to the person next to them (their elbow partner) and read their endings to each other. This was another opportunity for students to give feedback to each other and check for mistakes before the editing process.