This is our 3rd unit on writing expository text and every unit excites me because my students get better with continued practice. In my previous units on Honeybees and Crabs, I didn't have a lesson on how to make a good ending. I added a lesson on introductions in our Crab unit and now in this unit I'm adding a lesson on endings. With the addition of each of these lessons my student's writing just keeps improving.
I have a video here in the resource section of some of my student's writing on crabs. You can see that their endings are weak, and that's my fault. There are only so many hours in the day and at that point I hadn't developed a strong lesson on writing effective endings. The nice part about the Master Teacher Project is that I helps me hold myself accountable for meticulous planning, so I have the opportunity to create lessons that I otherwise wouldn't really get around to.
As accomplished readers, we know that an author needs to wrap up the story so the reader knows without a doubt the story has come to a close. As novice writers, students think that endings such as "The End", "I hope you liked my story," and, 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 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 Smartboard lesson so you can do the activities. You'll also need to make enough copies of the Excellent Endings Bookmarks 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 learn how to wrap up our shark writing by learning how to write an effective ending. An author ends their story so the reader knows that the story has come to an end. Let's look at several 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. We went through example by example and I called on students to come up to the board and write one of the endings themselves. The different ways that I put on the Smartboard lesson (and the bookmark) are:
Once the students had practiced, I showed them the last few slides on the Smartboard lesson. This is where I took 3 of the above ways and put them together to make effective endings. We talked about how you can put any 3 ways together as long it their writing made sense. Then I said, " I have bookmarks with the different ways to make endings. These bookmarks look just like our bookmarks for our introduction sentences. 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 paragraph 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 after thought. The reader needs to understand that the story is being wrapped up and the ending just needs to make sense.
Most of my students took about 10 minutes to make their endings. Some of my more advanced students took about 3 minutes, so I had them share their paragraphs with each other as an extension.
During this time, 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. To get a better idea of how my students did, view the video here in the resource section.
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.