Tips and tools from an elementary school Literacy Coach
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Writing Good Conclusions: And now you know all about dogs. I hope you liked my story.
Ok, when you saw that title, what happened? Did your eye start twitching? You started to stutter, "N-n-n-no-n-n-not-not-again." Your hands began to shake as Cynthia Rylant turned in her grave.
I know kids write some pretty terrible conclusions, but, in their defense, so do adults. I have always felt that writing a conclusion is the hardest part of writing. I feel like my conclusions are redundant and uninteresting. They add nothing to the writing while failing to encapsulate my central idea. If I feel like that about conclusions and I'm an adult who's been writing for years, why would we expect kids to get it without lesson after lesson of explicit instruction?
To help our kids write interesting and purposeful conclusions, we planned a similar lesson structure to our introductions lesson. You can find the lesson sequence (brief) and the sample anchor chart here.
First, the teacher shares an example of the type of conclusion being used in authentic text. Great samples include Sports Illustrated, National Geographic for Kids, and (sometimes, depending on your city) the newspaper!
Then the teacher discusses with the students: What strategy did the writer use to write this conclusion? Why should we try this type of conclusion? and adds it to the anchor chart below.
After adding the type of conclusion to the chart, the teacher modeled writing a conclusion similar to the one on the chart. It's important to think aloud during this model! We need to show kids what happens inside our brains so they can start thinking like writers!
Using the teacher's model and the text model, the students write a conclusion in the same style.
The teacher repeats this process with the other types of conclusions, until students have three different conclusions about the same central idea. The teacher and students then choose the best conclusion to add to their pieces.