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Too many university supervisors and administrators criticize the absence of lesson closure, a dubious assessment practice likely caused by the improper use of Madeline Hunter’s lesson plan model (PDF) as a de facto checklist of eight mandatory teaching practices -- anticipatory set, objective and purpose, input, modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice, independent practice, and closure -- a custom that Hunter decried in 1985 (PDF). Although it offers multiple benefits, please don't view closure as a professional must-do.

What Is Closure?

Closure is the activity that ends a lesson and creates a lasting impression, a phenomenon that Colorado State University professor Rod Lucero calls the recency effect.

Teachers use closure to:

  • Check for understanding and inform subsequent instruction
  • Emphasize key information
  • Tie up loose ends
  • Correct misunderstandings

Students find closure helpful for:

  • Summarizing, reviewing, and demonstrating their understanding of major points
  • Consolidating and internalizing key information
  • Linking lesson ideas to a conceptual framework and/or previously-learned knowledge
  • Transferring ideas to new situations

Like contracting your bicep at the top of a dumbbell curl, closure squeezes an extra oomph into a lesson. See my favorite closure strategies below!

Creative Closure Activities

1. Snowstorm

Students write down what they learned on a piece of scratch paper and wad it up. Given a signal, they throw their paper snowballs in the air. Then each learner picks up a nearby response and reads it aloud.

2. High-Five Hustle

Ask students to stand up, raise their hands and high-five a peer -- their short-term hustle buddy. When there are no hands left, ask a question for them to discuss. Solicit answers. Then play "Do the Hustle" as a signal for them to raise their hands and high-five a different partner for the next question. (Source: Gretchen Bridgers)

3. Parent Hotline

Give students an interesting question about the lesson without further discussion. Email their guardians the answer so that the topic can be discussed over dinner.

4. Two-Dollar Summary

Kids write a two-dollar (or more) summary of the lesson. Each word is worth ten cents. For extra scaffolding, ask students to include specific words in their statement. (Source (PDF): Ann Lewis and Aleta Thompson)

5. Paper Slide

On paper, small groups sketch and write what they learned. Then team representatives line up and, one and a time, slide their work under a video camera while quickly summarizing what was learned. The camera doesn't stop recording until each representative has completed his or her summary.

6. DJ Summary

Learners write what they learned in the form of a favorite song. Offer extra praise if they sing.

7. Gallery Walk

On chart paper, small groups of students write and draw what they learned. After the completed works are attached to the classroom walls, others students affix Stickies to the posters to extend on the ideas, add questions, or offer praise.

8. Sequence It

Students can quickly create timelines with Timetoast to represent the sequence of a plot or historical events.

9. Low-Stakes Quizzes

Give a short quiz using technologies like Socrative, BubbleSheet, GoSoapBox, or Google Forms. Alternatively, have students write down three quiz questions (to ask at the beginning of the next class).

10. Cover It

Have kids sketch a book cover. The title is the class topic. The author is the student. A short celebrity endorsement or blurb should summarize and articulate the lesson's benefits.

11. Question Stems

Have students write questions about the lesson on cards, using question stems framed around Bloom's Taxonomy. Have students exchange cards and answer the question they have acquired.

12. So What?

Kids answer the following prompts:

  • What takeaways from the lesson will be important to know three years from now?
  • Why?

13. Dramatize It

Have students dramatize a real-life application of a skill.

14. Beat the Clock

Ask a question. Give students ten seconds to confer with peers before you call on a random student to answer. Repeat.

15. Find a First-Grade Student

Have kids orally describe a concept, procedure, or skill in terms so simple that a child in first grade would get it.

16. Review It

Direct kids to raise their hands if they can answer your questions. Classmates agree (thumbs up) or disagree (thumbs down) with the response.

17. CliffsNotes, Jr.

Have kids create a cheat sheet of information that would be useful for a quiz on the day's topic. (Source (PDF): Ann Sipe, "40 Ways to Leave a Lesson")

18. Students I Learned From the Most

Kids write notes to peers describing what they learned from them during class discussions.

19. Elevator Pitch

Ask students to summarize the main idea in under 60 seconds to another student acting as a well-known personality who works in your discipline. After summarizing, students should identify why the famous person might find the idea significant.

20. Simile Me

Have students complete the following sentence: "The [concept, skill, word] is like _______ because _______."

21. Exit Ticket Folder

Ask students to write their name, what they learned, and any lingering questions on a blank card or "ticket." Before they leave class, direct them to deposit their exit tickets in a folder or bin labeled either "Got It," "More Practice, Please," or "I Need Some Help!" -- whichever label best represents their relationship to the day's content. (Source: Erika Savage)

22. Out-the-Door Activity

After writing down the learning outcome, ask students to take a card, circle one of the following options, and return the card to you before they leave:

  • Stop (I'm totally confused.)
  • Go (I'm ready to move on.)
  • Proceed with caution (I could use some clarification on . . .)

Download the PDF cards for this exercise. (Source: Eduscapes)

These 22 strategies can be effectively altered or blended. And they are great opportunities to correct, clarify, and celebrate.

Do you use a closure activity that's not on this list? Please share it in the comments.

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kschuelke's picture

I follow direct instruction with an exit slip that says "My question [insert question here]" and then "Your answer (blank lines for student to fill in)." "My question" is always conceptual, the one big idea I want them to grab hold of that day. It is also posted on the white board during instruction. On the back of the paper, students put a number from 1 - 5 to indicate how confident they feel about their grasp of that one question. The first student done and correct collects them in a folder for that period, and I can analyze the entire class' data as the next class is coming in.

SenorDPatterson's picture

I have an activity that is similar to #21 and #22 and I call it the "Stoplight." On the door frame I have a red light, yellow light and green light, all made out of paper. (I am a Spanish teacher.)

The green light says "!Estoy listo!" (I am ready!), which represents "go" or "let's move on."
The yellow light says "Un momento. No estoy seguro." (One moment. I am not sure.), which represents proceed with caution / slow down.
The red light says "!Para! No estoy listo." (Stop! I am not ready.), which represents we need to stop and review/discuss.

I give the students a post-it note and they can simply write their name (if they wish), their question(s), comments or a specific piece(s) they understand or don't understand. Then as they walk out the door, they slap their post-it note on the color of the stoplight that fits their feeling/understanding of the concept(s).

By seeing the post-it notes on the stoplight, I can quickly gauge how the class as a whole felt about the lesson as the next class is coming in. I can then start reflecting/preparing for tomorrow based on where the post-it notes are at (move on, review, that lesson went worse/better than I thought, etc). Then when I have time later I can actually read through the post-it notes to better gauge where the students are at and finalize how to proceed based on comments & questions.

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judyd123's picture

This a good list. I want to try Beat the Clock. This would be great for kindergarten.

Mel's picture

These are great ideas to use for lesson closure. I use the "review it" with my kindergarten students.

JoHanna Simko's picture

I love this Todd ! 2 points. 1~ many of the structures for active learning you delineate here can be used at any point during the lesson, for example, we just began a session with the snowballs, so I would push your readers to think about how to use these practices through out their lessons. 2~ How can we support use of these strategies when we are engaging teachers in professional learning?

Patrick Boer's picture

For the quizzes, you can also use Kahoot. The competitive element makes my students ask for it almost every lesson and it's a great way to quickly notices misconception if you phrased the questions and answers correctly.

Dina's picture
Dina
Math and Computer Science Teacher

I especially liked your comments on lesson closure. I believe my students are pretty good at working together and discovering math, but I have rarely used closure activities in any sort of meaningful way. I recently finished reading a book on Brain-Based learning by David Sousa, and in this book, he states that giving students an opportunity to reflect etc. at the end of the lesson facilitates retention of the information since this reflective process gives the brain time to move the lessons from short-term to long-term memory. I definitely plan to try out some of your lesson closure ideas and, in fact, plan to make this my individual performance goal for next year ( I would like to make it an action research project).

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