Who among ESL teachers does not understand the purpose behind a warm up activity? We all agree that it’s important to get students focused, to introduce a task or topic, to break the ice, or simply place your students in “English mode”.
But what about cool downs?
Many teachers are not aware of the importance of a cool down. And what is exactly this importance?
Many teachers just play a game or let students work on an activity till the bell rings. When you do this you neglect to give your students closure on what they have learned for the day. You’re not capitalizing on your unique opportunity to effectively wrap things up in a way that will benefit your students’ learning.
The warm up and the cool down are like the introduction and the conclusion of an essay.
An essay with no conclusion has a very abrupt ending. If you just let students work on an activity till it’s time to go home, you are not only giving them a sudden and abrupt ending to the lesson, you may also come across as disorganized and improvised. The cool down, however, clearly shows students that this is the way you planned for the lesson to end and that you’re ending it like this for a reason. The cool down has its own purpose.
7 effective ways to end a lesson – because those last minutes matter!
What have you learned today?
It goes without saying that you should never end a lesson by introducing something new, just to leave your students hanging till the next class. The best way to end a lesson is to give students some kind of review activity, so that they may see the progress they've made in just one lesson. One of the most common and easiest to implement is simply taking the last 5 minutes of class to ask your students, “What have you learned today?” Notice, here, that you’renot the one telling them what they’ve learned. They may give you a list of new words, or say they learned to speak about what they did in the past or what they will do in the future, etc... Students may pick up something they missed earlier. Also, it's important to speak in functional ways, for example not say they learned to use the “simple present” but rather that they learned to speak about their habits, schedules, and everyday activities.
Performance correction and feedback
Right before the last 5 minutes of class you can have some sort of performance activity, for instance a role play. Usually we don’t correct students during the role play so we don’t interrupt the flow, but when they’re done you can end the class with corrections of words or expressions they used incorrectly; things they forgot to say, etc…and your students will go home with these corrections fresh on their minds. Students may also give their opinion or feedback on their classmates’ performance.
Choose a few students and give each 60 seconds to speak about something you’ve covered that day: what they did yesterday if you worked on simple past; talk about Halloween, professions, or animals; older learners may even give a “how to” lesson; they may also summarize a story they heard, or place themselves in another person’s shoes, like a celebrity, profession, or even animal. But they must speak for a full minute. To motivate students to speak, you may choose to reward the student who says the most, or includes the most information, with a reward sticker.
Write an email
Ask students to imagine they have to write an email to a friend or family member and tell them what they did today in their ESL class. Students have a chance to summarize what they’ve learned in written form. This writing activity may be tailored to any topic. If you talked about farm animals, ask students to write about their favorite animal and why it’s their favorite. And the same goes for foods, sports, celebrities. Adult learners may write a business email with the new vocabulary they’ve learned.
For very young ESL learners the best way to wrap up a lesson is with a goodbye song or saying goodbye to a puppet. The puppet may “ask” them questions about something they learned, and even give them a short “review” by asking, “What’s this?” or “What’s that?” or any other question or expression they may have learned. You may set aside this special time with the puppet every day at the end of the class, so children know what to expect, and even though they may be very young, they will still have this sense of closure.
After a special holiday class, or right after a lesson packed with arts and crafts, ask students to help you tidy up the classroom. Make sure you factor in this tidy up time when you plan crafts. Letting students run off with their art work just to leave you in a classroom littered with papers and art supplies gives them the wrong message.
Sharing with the class
Another great way to end your class is by asking your students to share whatever it is that you worked on that day: a fall collage; a painting; they may read something they’ve written. The important thing here is to give them a space to share something they've produced with the language elements they've learned. Even adult learners may read a letter or email they’ve written.
You can do anything you want to wrap up your lesson and be as creative as you want to be.
However, it is essential that you provide these three things:
- a time for students to cool down after an activity-filled class
- some sort of review of what they’ve learned
- the proper closure to the day’s tasks
Keep these three essential points in mind, and you’ll come up with great, effective ways to end your lessons every time!
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Writing a Good Conclusion Paragraph
Parents, does your student need assistance with writing a concluding paragraph? Our teachers can help. Sign up for either our Middle School Essay Writing or High School Essay Writing course for 1-on-1 guidance.
In a conclusion paragraph, you summarize what you’ve written about in your paper. When you’re writing a good conclusion paragraph, you need to think about the main point that you want to get across and be sure it’s included. If you’ve already written a fabulous introductory paragraph, you can write something similar with different wording. Here are some points to remember.
Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. You may have started by saying, “There are three classes at school that I absolutely can’t wait to go to every day.” You can start your conclusion by saying, “Gym, Math, and Art are the three classes I try to never miss.”
If it’s a longer paper, a good place to start is by looking at what each paragraph was about. For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.”
Leave your readers with something to think about. Suggest that they learn more with a sentence like, “We have a lot to learn about global warming.” You can also give them something to do after reading your paper. For example, “It’s easy to make your own popsicles. Grab some orange juice and give it a try!”
To sum up, remember that it’s important to wrap up your writing by summarizing the main idea for your readers. This brings your writing to a smooth close and creates a well-written piece of work.
What is a conclusion?
- A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
- It “wraps up” your essay
- It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
- It shows how you have proved your thesis
- It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic
- A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
- Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
- The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general
- So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:
Body of Essay
Rephrased thesis statement
What to include
- Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
- Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
- This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
- Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
- Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
- Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
- Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
- If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
- Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
- Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
- Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your “clincher”
- Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
- Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
- End on a positive note
- Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper
Strategies for an effective conclusion
- Play the “So What” Game.
- When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?”
- Ponder that question and answer it
- Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
- So what?
- Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
- Why should anybody care?
- That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
- Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
- This brings the reader full circle
- If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
- Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
- Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
- Pull it all together
- Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
- Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
- Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
- Point to broader implications
- A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists
Concluding strategies that do not work
- Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
- These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
- “in conclusion”
- “in summary”
- “in closing”
- “as shown in the essay”
- Stating the thesis for the very first time
- Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
- Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
- Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper
- “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”
- Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
- Does not push ideas forward
- Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
- In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
- “Sherlock Holmes”
- State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
- Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then “wow” them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
- Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
- “America the Beautiful”
- Draws on emotion to make its appeal
- Out of character with the rest of the paper
- “Grab Bag”
- Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
- Creates confusion for the reader
- Topic sentence
- Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
- Supporting sentences
- Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
- Explain how ideas fit together
- Closing sentence
- Final words
- Connects back to the introduction
- Provides a sense of closure
More Concluding Paragraph Resources