Friday, July 29, 2011

Closing Activity or Ending Ideas For the Middle/High Classroom

1. I’ve always heard that you should have closure at the end of each class, but I haven’t found the best method until recently. The previous year I had students write their “closing activity” answer down on paper. However, I already did “opening activity” papers and this created a larger work load of grading for me. And it did not tell me right away (except for the few students I called on), whether they understood the concept for the day until two weeks later when I was grading the assignment. I also found that the kids wanted to answer the closing when they did the opening, defeating the purpose of a closing question. Or some students would be so fixed on packing up that they wouldn’t do the closing, even though I would ask them to complete it. I ended up having to end class earlier and checking every students paper to see they were completing the closing, thus, taking more time and energy for me. I am always looking for something that places responsibility on the student, not create more work for me. I had a brainstorm last year and I’ve been using it for a year and plan to use it this year too. It may become defined or changed over time, but I think it’s a large improvement from the previous year.

I have headings on the board like “homework,” “today’s activities,” “test date,” “learning targets,” “opening activity,” and now “closing activity.” Then I made 5 slips of paper for the closing activity with the following headings, (that I can change each day, and I use a magnetic clip to hold up). The headings are:
Door (They answer a question (or i.e. label a part of a flower) at the door as they exit)
Journal (They answer a question in their journal, summarize their notes, complete a demo)
Partner (They have to tell their partner the answer to the question I ask, quiz their partner on vocab, or read their notes to each other)
Random (I call on a student/s to randomly to answer a question)
Whiteboard (Students draw or write their answer on a whiteboard)

2. Reading “The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle” is a great way to end class when you want to keep the attention of your students. Each entry is a paragraph long, so you can use it to cover a couple minutes to five minutes in class. I wouldn’t do more than five minutes as it can get redundant. The table of contents is extensive. Some time in the beginning of the school year to get things started with this procedure, I will read the Popsicle story, since the title is about the Popsicle. After that, I walk up to a student and give them a couple seconds to pick an entry. Then I read the entry (this way I can change words or explain concepts as I read). The kids are always eager to be the ones picked to pick an entry. Some of my favorites I’ve read to the students are about the hot air balloon, teddy bear, vending machines, bikini, Dr. pepper, and quiz.
There are other books like this out on the market, but this book has been the best at filling in a couple minutes of class time. I usually end up using the book at the end of class when we get done earlier than planned or they seem really squirrely and I need to keep their focus. I also bring it out for the sub to use in case my lesson plan is too short.

3. If I end up with more 10 minutes of closing time (because some classes move faster than others), I read a 2-minute mystery book ( and the students try to solve the problem. Students always have that "ohhhh" moment when I'm able to lead them to the answer. Critical thinking is so important as we move from state standards to common core standards. 

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