Today I thought I’d share a lesson that fits with the trait of organization which helps students write a good conclusion for their stories. I would start by explaining that a good conclusion is like a nicely wrapped gift. The gift itself is wonderful and appreciated, but having someone take the time to wrap it up nicely with pretty paper and a big bow makes it that much more special. And like the ribbon, a good conclusion wraps up a story and is the perfect way to bring it all together.
After the introduction, I would spend a day or two having students look at books they are familiar with to find conclusions that strike them. We would add them to a chart. Once we’ve had time to study how the experts write conclusions we would look at our results to find some similarities and try to group and name them. In Jennifer Jacobsons’s book No More I’m Done she recommends that kids “Notice It, Name It, Try It.” That brings us to try it. The next day I would hand out the organizer below (but with the names they have given the groupings we found) and review the types of conclusions. Click the organizer to download if you'd like.
Then it’s time to apply it! I would find one of the things I’ve written (I always write for the first 10 minutes of writing time) and show the kids how I could rewrite my ending four different ways, writing each new ending on the organizer. Then we would pick a generic topic like a pet story or a trip story or a loose tooth story and write four conclusions together. That gets us to the You Do it part – I would have the kids use the story they are currently working on or one they have finished (their choice) and ask them to rewrite the ending at least two different ways (two is not so overwhelming). For sharing time that day, they would partner up and share the conclusion they like best (either their original idea or one of the new ones). I think it’s so important to get them talking to each other about their writing. It helps build a community of writers, but it’s also a great way for them to get new ideas. That was one of the most important ideas I took away from Lucy Calkins Units of Study – the importance of talk during the workshop. I’ve seen some very inspired moments when kids have been talking to other kids!