In order to prepare our students for the rigorous writing they will face in first grade, it is important that we, as Kindergarten teachers, provide our kids with as many aspects of writing to draw from as possible. Often, we ask students to find the main idea in the story- this helps when re-telling. Since we already know how to do this, why not apply this idea to writing? Find the main idea and introduce AND CLOSE your writing with that idea; just like with a book, it helps with re-telling!
In addition to this being a solid lesson, it also is a great connection and building lesson! Not only is this a foundational writing lesson, but it also helps students see that reading and writing are directly connected! With this assignment, students are referring back to a text to form the ideas for their writing, so reading and writing standards are both covered!
This is a whole group lesson, so all of my students are seated on the carpet in front of me. It is our writing block, and I will be introducing a new idea; however, we will need to access prior knowledge first!
Prior to this lesson, students will have been working to create their conclusive writing piece. Each day before this, students will have already participated in lessons about: Topic Sentences, Supporting Ideas and Supporting Details Needed. The writing used in this lesson will be the writing from each of these previous lessons combined onto one sheet.
"Today, we are going to learn the last step in making our writing wonderful! When we write, it is important that we get our point across well; we want to make sure that our reader leaves our writing remembering exactly what we were saying. With that being said, we had better make sure that our last sentence is a great one then, right?" (Students will agree or nod their heads.)
"The way to end a story with a great final sentence is to learn how to mimic and re-word our topic sentence. Remember, we already learned how to make a topic sentence that tells me what my whole portion of writing is going to be about. Well, my closing sentence is basically a re-statement of my first sentence, with different wording! This portion of writing is important because it gives my reader a summary of what they read about to close everything; it's like the period to my writing! Let me show you what I mean."
"Let's pretend that my topic sentence is, 'I have learned a lot about clouds." (wait time) "Now, I have to figure out how to re-word this a little to fit it at the end of my story, after I have added all of my information. I do not want to simply say the same thing again, so, instead of saying, 'I have learned a lot about clouds,' I am going to say, 'There was so much information that I was able to learn about clouds!" (wait time) "Did you hear how it was kind of the same as my topic sentence, but it was also kind of different?" (wait time) "That is the easiest way to create a good, solid closing sentence."
Here, I will introduce my closing sentences anchor chart. I will leave this anchor chart up for students' reference throughout this writing unit.
"Let's try to come up with one more topic sentence. Let's pretend that our topic sentence is, 'You can see many animals at the zoo.' Hmmm... I have listed all of my details and ideas below that topic sentence, so now I have to close my writing..." (wait time) "Right now, I want you to talk to a friend about how you might re-word the idea, 'You can see many animals at the zoo." (I will give students about a minute to talk and discuss their ideas.)
"Wow, I love what I heard _____________ say. Can you share your closing sentence please?"
(I will use an idea from a student who displayed a good understanding and a strong word choice.)
"I think that, 'At the zoo, are so many different types of animals that you could see!' I like that this sentence is similar to the topic sentence, but it uses its' own words!"
Now, we are going to try to create a closing sentence for ourselves at the bottom of the writing we have already been working on!
This lesson about closing sentence can be a difficult concept for students. After all, creating a closing sentence does take reference to the topic sentence as well as re-wording skills. Since I want to really, really model how to create a solid closing sentence, I make our first lesson close with guided practice of the skill!
At this point, I will lay out an example writing piece. After I have my topic sentence and my supporting sentences, I will create a closing sentence. It is imperative that I think-aloud here so students will understand why I am doing what I am.
I will use a piece of chart paper and write as I talk while guiding students through closing sentences.
"Alright, now I am ready to close my paragraph. Hmmm... I remember that the best way to create a closing sentence..." (wait time) "is by looking at my topic sentence and re-stating it with different words..." (wait time) "So, I am going to re-read my topic sentence, then re-word it to close my writing." (wait time)
"The topic sentence that we have is, 'Insects are interesting creatures.'hmmm." (wait time)
"How can I say that again, but use different words?" (wait time)
"Hmmm... How about starting with, 'I think that'... because I am explaining something that I thing based on all of these facts..." (wait time) "Alright, I have I think that... hmmm... I think that insects are..." (wait time) "I am going to add the word very! That makes the word interesting more exciting! Oh, and maybe the word really too... because I really like insects!" (wait time) "Now, let me put together my new closing sentence... I think that insects are really very interesting!" (wait time)
"Now, that is re-stating my topic sentence, but I did use different words. Basically, I said the same thing but added some to it. It helps glue the top and bottom of my writing together! I really like that!"
"Do you see what I did?" (wait time)
"Please explain to a friend what I did." (I have students do this step because it always helps students to teach each other the steps to go through- it helps them remember the steps!)
"Now that you watched me do this, I would like for some of you to create your own closing sentences! Right now, I want you to talk with a partner or two and create a new, different closing sentence for our writing. I want you to remember to re-state what we said in our topic sentence, but I want you to use new or different words." (wait time) "Also, if you can use another adjective, other than interesting, that would be challenging but wonderful!" (wait time) "Right now, talk to your partners and come up with a new closing sentence."
I will give students 2-3 minutes to come up with a closing sentence. Then, I will call on students to come up to the front, state their sentence, and write it down if the other students approve of it!
At this point, I will call up students to model for others what a good closing sentence should look like. As you can see here in these student responses to closing sentences, there are varying manners of addressing this skill.
As you can see in the student responses, everyone took the skill and ran with it on their own. I would personally say that the first student does not need any more practice with this skill because they were able to not only re-state the topic sentence, but they also changed the adjective (which was my challenge). Looking at the second student response, I can see that the particular student in this case also does not really need any more practice with this skill, as they have re-stated the topic sentence and expanded upon it. The third student, however, may need some extra practice with closing sentences because they could've used a different adjective OR expanded to show their growth from beginning to end.
Once we completed this lesson and went over all of these student's closing sentences, I felt that the class as a whole had a pretty good understanding of closing sentences. That made me feel confident that students could participate in independent practice the next day!
"Now that you guys have had some practice creating your closing, final sentence, which is the re-statement of the main idea of your writing, I want you to go show me what you know! Please go back to your seat and write your closing sentence for me."
(When students do this, I am merely making sure they understand what a closing sentence consists of. When writing a piece for presentation, I will provide more guidance on solid closing sentences.)
As students write, I will go around and monitor and adjust. I would say that at least half of the time, I have to provide students with prompts to engage them in thinking, so they will find another supporting sentence. I am fine to do that, as long as students, themselves, make the connection between their main topic and their supporting ideas.
"You guys did a great job showing me that you are going to be able to write closing sentences to summarize your writing! Congratulations! From now on, I will work with you to create some great, enjoyable and informative closing sentences when we are working with our informational writing!"
**Since this is an additional exposure to closing sentences, I will add in some extras to this portion of the lesson! I do introduce this skill as re-statement of the topic sentence; however, I also allow students to create a summary sentence, as this provides them with a challenge if necessary. I encourage my students to refer to our closing sentences example on the wall if they want help OR a challenge! I also encourage my really high-achieving students to eventually challenge themselves with what we call "a challenging closing sentence" that will lead them into an additional paragraph!