When writing workshop practices feel comfortable and are yielding success, overhauls and revamps make no sense! Instead, focus on playful risk-taking and small enhancements that add variety to daily routines. While traditional teaching shares and author chairs are fabulous ways to conclude writing time, what follows are five low-prep alternatives for lesson closures.
My friend Patty often says, “Reflection is the stickiest glue.” Closing a workshop session with reflection makes so much sense. Often, I simply ask students to look through folder booklets or notebook entries with a specific question in mind. They respond by taking a moment to pause and ponder or stop and jot their reflections. As an alternative, students might quickly share their thoughts with a partner. This simple routine can even become an exit ticket. No matter what you choose, this concise closing is quite powerful. Build reflection into your routine once or twice a week across the whole unit.
Click to access a presentation with multiple reflection examples.
MINUTE TO WIN IT CHALLENGE
Who doesn’t have a minute? This lesson closure is a playful way to spice up a session of workshop or encourage students to try less-used strategies. Essentially, you pose a small challenge and everyone in the class has a minute (or a little more- they will be working, not watching the clock) to accept your dare. Here are a few examples of minute-to-win-it writing challenges:
Finding ample time for grammar is always a challenge. There are so many quick grammar games students enjoy. Use It or Lose It is one such game. Here, students remind themselves that if they don’t use recent grammar learning, they may lose it. So, they embark on an “80-second edit” where they look for one recently taught convention in that day or week’s writing. For the next 80 seconds, students practice rereading and looking for one specific concept. When students find a correct example, they record a tally and keep rereading. When students find an incorrect attempt, they fix it up, add a tally, and then continue searching their writing for that feature. After 80 seconds, celebrate individual counts – or find a sum (partner, small-group, or whole-class totals).
Play this process up even more by cutting up the unit editing checklist (more on those here) and putting it in a “mystery convention envelope” (or bag, hat…). Each time you play this game, invite a student volunteer to select a checklist slip from the envelope, thereby revealing that day’s “mystery” focus area with a bit of extra suspense. This practice is a ton of fun and helps students build the habit of rereading their work with a specific focus.
PLAN TOMORROW’S RISK
Another favorite way to end a workshop session is to nudge students out of their comfort zones. This could be as simple as asking students to flip through recent work to discover patterns: What topics do they write about most? What strategies do they employ most frequently? Then, follow up by inviting students to ponder a risk they want to take tomorrow. Checklists and skill/strategy charts are great resources for writers who feel unsure about where they might head next.
CELEBRATORY SHOUT OUTS
Being an independent and productive writer is hard work! Celebrating along-the-way effort is always a worthy endeavor. If you eavesdropped on a few recent celebratory closings, here is what you might have heard:
Teacher-Student Example: “Today, I noticed Peyton flipping through a few mentor texts. She got new ideas for adding funny details to her sketches. I also noticed Abe took the time to say his plan across his fingers three times before he got a new booklet. Abe said this helped him remember what he wanted to write.”
Teacher-Student Example: “Today, CJ decided to use his notebook to plan. He figured out that he prefers to brainstorm on paper. Toni also did something phenomenal. They decided to change the formatting of their piece and add in a part that looks like a journal page. They composed a poem – in the voice of the main character – on this journal page. Isn’t that a cool way to help the reader get to know the inner thoughts of the main character?”
Student-Student Example: “I was inspired by Sawyer. She used a flashback in her story, and it made me wonder where I could try something like that in one of my entries.”
Student-Student Example: “I want to thank my writing partner, Neal. I was feeling stuck about how to close my opinion piece. Neal offered different suggestions and was patient when I asked for more time to think things through.”
Student-Teacher Example: “I appreciate that Sra. Suarez encouraged me to move on and try a brand new piece today. It felt good to know I didn’t need to stick with the first idea I tried. I am feeling much more motivated to write about my new topic.”
Embrace the thrill of trying something new and know that doing so doesn’t require abundant time, energy, or preparation. Small shifts have a real impact on classroom energy, enthusiasm, and engagement. How else do you play around with workshop closings? Do you lean on other methods to wrap up a session? What else could you try that might add variety, joy, and/or playfulness to lesson closings?
5 thoughts on “Quick & Fun Lesson Closures? Yes, Please!”
Love these ideas! Can’t wait to give some of them a go in my class with my kiddos. Thank you for sharing.
These are great! I can’t wait to try each one to bring some excitement to our writers workshop time again.
This is the perfect post with a slew of easy-to-implement and engaging ideas. We already do regular classroom community shout outs and I love the idea of focusing some on writing or other academic areas. Thanks so much!
Those MINUTE TO WIN IT writing challenges are fantastic! Thanks for providing the specific challenges you’ve used.
They always seem to be a hit with classes across grades.
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