1. Writing workshop mini lesson Types of conclusions
The conclusion (ending or closing) of your writing is what wraps it all up for the reader. Stop writing when you have said it all, but the conclusion should tie up all loose ends. Do not leave the reader hanging. Leave him/her with something to think about. Do not insult the reader by telling him/her what you have written about. Also, do not use the lead as the conclusion; you can restate what you wrote in the lead, but do not just repeat it. NEVER end with "...and it was all a dream." That has been overdone. Below are some ideas on how to write a good conclusion. Remember that not every type of lead will work for every writer or for every piece of writing. You'll have to experiment. Be sure to have a least three sentences in your conclusion, whatever type it may be.
Question: Close with a question that involves the reader. You can answer the question, or leave it for the reader to decide based on what you wrote. The question must relate to the main idea. Example: It was the worst experience of his life. Andrew decided that it was the last time he would ever go on a roller coaster. Who can blame him?
Strong Statement Close with a statement that forcefully states your opinion. Example: A criminal, no matter his/her age, should be dealt with according to the crime. The legal system is too lenient when it comes to juvenile offenders. Laws need to be rewritten immediately so that no more hard core criminals go free just because they are juveniles.
Summary Close with a summary of your main ideas. However, do not repeat yourself word for word; say it in a different way. Also, remember not to insult the reader by saying, "I wrote about..." The reader is smart enough to know what he/she just read. Example: As you can see, it is not important to know everything, but it is important to know how to find the answer. There will not always be a teacher nearby with the answer. You have to learn how to research, how to dig through sources to find what you need to know.
Personal Comment Close with a personal comment or response to what you have written. It is not the same thing as an opinion. It is more like a personal conclusion you have reached or a lesson you have learned because of the experience you wrote about in your paper. Example: Riding a roller coaster with someone who is a "chicken" is something I will certainly never do again. I should have listened when Sheila told me she did not want to ride it. I should have let her take the "chicken exit." Next time I will know better.
Mystery Close with a statement that shows some things will never be resolved. However, be sure to do this in a way that the reader does not think you just forgot to end your story or paper. Example: We watched Adam walk down the road until he became just a tiny speck and then disappeared altogether into the dust of twilight. Just as he appeared, he was gone. That was the last time any of us ever saw him.
Beginning of New Story When writing a story or personal narrative, you can close with a hint of things to come, or the beginning of a new story--a sequel of sorts. Example: He was exhausted. It had been a long and difficult week. Javier closed his eyes and thought of the many other adventures that lie ahead.
Well Known Quotation or Quotation from a Famous Person Close with a quotation that is well known or from a famous person. Be sure to put quotations around the quotation and give credit to the person who said it if you write it word for word. Of course, the quotation must be directly related to your topic. A good source is a book of quotations. Look in the library or ask your teacher. Example: According to Senator Bob Dole, in order to be a citizen, all Americans must be able to speak English. In theory this seems like a good policy. However, what will become of the citizens who never learn to speak English?
Quotation Not from a Famous Person Close with a quotation from a person that is not famous. It could be a character from the story or someone you know personally. You still must put it in quotation marks and give credit to the person who said it if you write it word for word. Example: "You're going to regret this." Those were Sheila's last words as I pulled her into the roller coaster seat. I now know she was not kidding.
Open Conclusion Close with an ending or statement that lets the reader draw his/her own conclusion. It is like a "fill in the blank" type of conclusion. Remember to give the reader enough information in the body of your paper that he/she can draw a conclusion. Example: Some statistics show that drivers under the age of 16 are more dangerous. On the other hand, some statistics show that they are no more dangerous than drivers 16 to 25. Therefore, whether drivers under the age of 16 are more dangerous than those over 16 is still debatable.
2. Writing workshop mini lesson Take a look at endings that don't work
With endings, I find it works best to teach students what not to do. There are countless wonderful ways to finish a poem, essay, or narrative, depending on your purpose and audience. But there are three kinds of horrible endings that rear their heads again and again in writing workshop. If you teach students to recognize these blunders in their writing, they are more likely to avoid them and craft more original closings.
Unnecessary repetition: The first mistake involves not trusting that your writing says what you want it to say. When this happens, writers repeat their main point, bludgeoning it in the process. Students who have this tendency often just need to be reassured that they've done a good job in conveying their ideas earlier in the piece.
Uninspired chronology: Students also make the error of reverting to chronology, often ending their writing with the characters dying or falling asleep. If you ask students never to end their pieces with phrases such as "...and they all went to bed," you'll eliminate lots of abrupt conclusions.
The "Dallas Syndrome": This catchall ending is used when the writing is implausible, or contains loose ends that the writer can't tie up. In these instances, it's typical for students to conclude with passages such as, "It was all just a dream," or anything that provides an easy return from fantasy to reality. Local teachers dubbed this tendency the "Dallas Syndrome," a nickname inspired by the night-time soap opera in which the lame plot device was used in explaining the absence of Bobby for an entire season. One solution: Don't allow it.
3. Writing workshop mini lesson circular ending. (Craft Lessons)
Read the following poem with your students. Then lead a discussion. The first time we read the first line, "My Grandpa is not around" we feel a little sad. It's a whole different reaction by the last time we read, "My Grandpa is not around". We feel real sad because we've read about all the things the girl had done with her Grandpa. This kind of ending gives the writing balance by using the same thing at the beginning and at the end. Keep this in mind when you write the ending to the piece you're working on.
Written by Jeanine Cozzens (third grade)
My Grandpa is not around.
I loved him.
He used to give me candy.
He takes me places.
He used to take me swimming.
He delivered me and my sister and brother.
I liked when he held me.
My Grandpa is not around.