Writing a Lesson Plan: Closure and Context

Teacher with class of kids with raised hands
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A lesson plan is a guide for teachers to present objectives that students will accomplish throughout the day. This keeps the classroom organized and ensures that all material is covered adequately. That includes concluding a lesson plan, a step that many teachers may overlook, especially if they are in a rush.

However, developing a strong closure, which is the fifth step in writing a strong and effective eight-step lesson plan for elementary school students, is the key to classroom success. The objective, anticipatory set, direct instruction, and guided practice, are the first four steps, leaving the closure section as a method that provides a fitting conclusion and context for student learning that has taken place.

The Role of Closure

Closure is the step where you wrap up a lesson plan and help students organize the information in a meaningful context in their minds. This helps students better understand what they have learned and provides a way in which they can apply it to the world around them.

A strong closure can help students better retain information beyond the immediate learning environment. A brief summary or overview is often appropriate; it doesn't have to be an extensive review. A helpful activity when closing a lesson is to engage students in a quick discussion about what they learned and what it means to them.

Writing an Effective Closure Step

It is not enough to simply say, "Are there any questions?" in the closure section. Similar to the conclusion in a five-paragraph essay, look for a way to add some insight and/or context to the lesson. It should be a meaningful end to the lesson. Examples of real-world usage can be a great way to illustrate a point, and one example from you can inspire dozens from the class. 

Look for areas of confusion that students might experience, and find ways in which you can quickly clarify them. Reinforce the most important points so that the learning is solidified for future lessons.

The closure step is also a chance to do an assessment. You can determine whether students need additional practice or whether you need to go over the lesson again. It allows you to know that the time is right to move on to the next lesson.

You can use a closure activity to see what conclusions the students drew from the lesson to ensure they are making the appropriate connections to the materials. They could describe how they can use what they learned in the lesson in another setting. For example, ask students to demonstrate how they would use the information in solving a problem. Ensure that you have a selection of problems ready to use as prompts. 

Closure can also preview what the students will learn in the next lesson, providing a smooth transition. This helps students make connections between what they learn from day to day. 

Examples of Closure

Closure can take a number of forms. For example, for a lesson about plants and animals, tell students to discuss new things that they have learned about plants and animals. This should produce a lively conversation where students can meet in small groups or as an entire class, depending on what is best for your particular group. 

Alternatively, ask students to summarize the characteristics of plants and animals and explain how they compare and contrast. Have students write examples on the board or in their notebooks. Other possible closure activities include:

  • Asking students what information from the lesson they think they will find important three years from now and why. This would work better with upper-primary-grade students.
  • Using exit tickets. Have students write what they learned, as well as any questions they might still have, on a slip of paper with their name. As they leave the class, they can place their responses in bins labeled as to whether they understood the lesson, need more practice or information, or need more help. You can label these bins: "Stop," "Go," or "Proceed with Caution."
  • Asking students to summarize the lesson as they would explain it to a classmate who was absent. Give them a couple of minutes and then either have them turn in the summaries for you to read or have a few present their writings to the class.

You can also have students write several yes/no questions of key points from the lesson, then pose the questions to the class for a quick thumbs up or thumbs down for each one. These yes-no questions will show how well the class understood those points. If there is confusion, you will know which points of the lesson you need to clarify or reinforce.