At long last, the unit you were teaching has come to a close. Now what?
Organizer extraordinaire Marie Kondo looks at closure this way:
“Have gratitude for the things you’re discarding. By giving gratitude, you’re giving closure to the relationship with that object, and by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to let go.”
Now, your students may not be mourning the end of your algebra unit, but when viewing the above quote through a teaching and learning lens, you can definitely focus on the gratitude part.
Providing closure on a topic is similar to placing a special value or gratitude on the subject. Much like a beloved but no longer needed piece of clothing, a lesson has value and leads to something better (like how those pleather pants served their purpose and have now helped you to evolve to another style!).
Closure can, and should, happen in classrooms, too. Wrap-up activities will tie up learned concepts in a neat bow (hopefully!) while solidifying knowledge and naturally leading to the next related topic. Teachers value these wrap-up activities because they are perfect ways to check for understanding (and any misunderstanding) as well as summarize important info. Students will appreciate these activities because the transition to the next topic won’t be as abrupt.
How do we incorporate these wrap-up activities into our teaching? Check out these 15 suggestions to get you started.
15 fun closing activities for groups
Have students — either in a group or individually — dramatize a section of they learned. For example, if you studied a particular novel or the works of an author, students can develop short skits to bring a piece of the story to life. This can be easily applied to history lessons as well, and your students will have a blast doing it.
2. Jeopardy-style game
Reinforce learning through the use of a few rounds of a Jeopardy-style game based on information from the topic at hand. Generate the content online and share on a smart board. If you don’t have access to a smart board or similar tech, construction paper on a blackboard can work, too (with clues hidden under a second layer of paper).
3. Trivia cards
With this Jeopardy twist, students can create their own trivia cards and then take turns playing the game with a fellow student. The bonus here is that students will be cementing their learning while creating the cards, and then they’ll solidify that even further when playing trivia with a partner!
4. Gallery walk
Students can put their own unique flair into a poster board with highlights from the concept that they learned. Posters can focus on a particular section of the concept (if it’s sufficiently large) or demonstrate their understanding of the concept as a whole. Much like the trivia game, this activity allows students to get double the benefit as they assemble their own posters and then participate in a gallery walk to view their peers’ work.
5. Exit slips
Tried-and-true exit slips work wonderfully for a quick wrap-up activity. Perhaps students will write two sentences about what they learned today, or you can have them respond to a specific thought-provoking question about what you taught. Either way, exit slips are a quick and easy solution.
6. Pass the knowledge down
Learning by teaching is an effective way to reinforce your understanding of a concept. If possible, have your students teach the concept to other students in a lower grade. This will give your students confidence in the topic and allow them to look at it from a different perspective. For example, their “student” might have questions that force your student to think more deeply. Looking back at my restaurant job days, for example, I never felt like a better server than when I was training a new hire!
Another solid contender is the think-pair-share. This activity gets students talking to each other about the concept you’re wrapping up, even allowing for the sharing of new perspectives. Have your students spend a few silent minutes thinking about an aspect of the topic you learned (or the topic as a whole), and then pair them with other students to discuss any relevant angles, pros and cons, or strategies.
8. Slide presentation
Allow your students to flex their creative muscles by developing slide presentations that highlight key points from the topic. This is another two-in-one activity: Students will solidify their learning not only when they create their presentation but also when they watch their peers present. Consider using slides after conducting an experiment to show the results with graphs or a series of documenting pictures.
9. Expert talks
When wrapping up a topic, consider having students conduct their very own lectures. Have them zero in on a specific aspect of the lesson, give them some prep time, and then let them each hold a two-minute talk on their newfound expertise.
10. Sell it
Students can videotape (or present live) some quick advertisements related to the topic you’re wrapping up. For example, if your class learned strategies for division in math class, have them choose a particular strategy to promote in a 30-second ad. If they learned about types of trees in science, have them sell the heck out of their favorite deciduous pal … Why exactly is the blue spruce superior to all the others? Find out from your students!
11. The artist
Wrap up a series of lessons by having students create a related piece of art. Collages work well for this, but also consider other types of visual representations — perhaps an interpretive, abstract painting to capture the feeling of a historical revolution? Maybe your students have been learning about classical music and you have them paint or draw freely while listening to a piece and see what you get? This can have surprisingly fascinating results!
12. Model behavior
Piggybacking on the art installation suggestion, dioramas and models are fabulous wrap-up activities. Students can piece together their own historically accurate 18th-century fort or village. Or, in science class, they can create awesome models of body parts such as the eye or heart. These are fun activities that bring together the learned concepts.
13. In other news …
Students can prepare short newscasts about a topic. Have them sit facing the class at a desk — with a small stack of notes in hand and maybe even a suit jacket — to deliver a special report. They could cover an environmental issue, a current or past exciting scientific discovery, or present on a historical event as if it happened that day.
Have students physically represent a concept, either in small groups or as a whole class. This works best with science or math topics, in my experience, but if you can apply it to other subjects, go for it! Students can act out division, photosynthesis, the water cycle, etc. This will allow your class to see and also participate in a literal rendition of the topic they learned.
Classcraft can help you out with wrap-up activities, too. Students can play an immersive game that can bring a topic home for them. Classcraft’s Random Events are often used as opening activities but can also be effectively used as closing activities. Customize your own Random Event around the topic or class at hand, and have your students participate as teams in a fast-paced, exciting game to wrap up and celebrate the latest lessons learned. The options are endless here!
Solidify your students’ learning
The wrap-up activities listed above are fairly celebratory in nature, tying into the concept of gratitude for a topic. Both students and teachers alike should feel a sense of celebration and closure when wrapping up one idea or topic and moving on to the next. These will be memorable experiences for your students, allowing them to solidify their learning and transition more smoothly to the next piece of the puzzle.
That’s a wrap!
Photo: Google Edu