For many teachers, nearing the end of class means preparing the classroom for the next class period and/or discussing homework. Unfortunately, in wrapping up a lesson in this manner, students miss an opportunity to further process their learning. Closing statement routines are either written or verbal statements that allow students to check their understanding and give students the opportunity to self-reflect on their own learning. The use of closing statements is a great way for teachers to wrap up their lessons and quickly assess students’ understanding. The table below highlights some of the benefits of using closing statements in the classroom.
There are different questions teachers can ask students at the end of a lesson to incorporate closing statements. Questions can be used to formatively assess student learning. For example, teachers might want to ask students questions like: What did you learn? What surprised you? What is still unclear? What do you want to know more about? Here are some examples of students’ closing statements that I found helpful when planning future instruction on the topic of area of trapezoids.
“Today I learned how to find the area of a trapezoid that is divided into four smaller regions. When I was solving the problem, I knew the total area was 36 x 4 or 144 and a portion of the height was 6, with the top being six, but I didn’t know the total height or the length of the base AB. Once you have the diagonal of the smaller trapezoid, what should I do from there? I don’t know the length of the line at the bottom, AB, but I know the area is 36, the diagonal of the smaller trapezoid is 12, and the top is 6. What do I do?”
“I understand that the area of the trapezoid is 144 cm^2 and that each of the four sections has an area of 36, but I still don’t understand how to solve the problem.
It is important to discuss guidelines and expectations for sharing closing statements. In my case, I found it beneficial to involve the whole class when stating the guidelines and expectations. This gave my students an opportunity to make sense of their learning, thereby allowing students to fully engage in the learning process. Once we had an open discussion about what non-negotiable closing statements should include, we agreed as a group with the following.
When we reached consensus about the guidelines and expectations, we began the process. The first time I used closing statements with my students, I presented three guiding statements to lead students’ thinking to focus on the main ideas for their closing statements. I challenged students to think about something new they learned today, mention something they were still unclear about, and to think about something they would like to learn more about.
After I presented the guiding statements to the class, I gave my students approximately three minutes of thinking time. This allowed my students to self-reflect on their own learning prior to sharing with others. Then, I asked students to turn and talk in pairs or triads to share out their learning in their small group. Next, I asked students to come up with a closing statement that reflected their group’s thoughts.
For groups that have difficulty writing closing statements, I ask them to go back to their learning experience and, if they are unable to write a closing statement, then write a question they might have. This has become a very powerful strategy for me as a teacher because these statements provide useful data that help me have a better sense of where my students are.
Responses from each group are gathered and sorted to determine students’ misunderstanding and students’ progression to learning, leading to meaningful talking points to close out the lesson or to provide entry conversations for opening the next day’s lesson.