Closure Activities: Making that Last Impression

By Rod Lucero

Do you want your students to attach personal meaning and relevance to what they glean from your daily lessons? An effective "Closure" activity at the end of each class period can help with that objective, creating what psychologists call the Recency Effect, otherwise known as a last impression.

Ideally, closure activities create powerful learning effects at the tail-end of the class, something that will reverberate for hours after the lesson is over, something a little sticky.

The defining element of the closure activity is that which your students will soon come to realize: class isn’t over until it has taken place. The bonus added-value factor, of course, is this: as they come to realize that the closure activity is an essential part of the overall lesson, your students are more likely to think twice before leaving early!

Closure activities also help define both your teaching agenda and the intended learning progression, weaving today's lesson with yesterday's while providing a look ahead at what tomorrow's will bring. As a deliberate part of your planning process, these activities summarize the current lesson, provide it context, and build anticipation for the next. Properly implemented, they will help you establish and maintain course momentum.

Reinforcing what students have learned, closure activities also serve as an assessment tool with which to evaluate your students retention level—Did they get it?—as well as your own effectiveness.

Including a closure activity with a SET Activity in every lesson is an effective classroom management strategy. It establishes a clear classroom framework for your students, with a clearly delineated and articulated BEGINNING and END, a format they will come to expect and on which they can depend

Here are Some Example Closure Activities

Ask questions:

  • What one thing did you learn today?
  • How does today's lesson impact your understanding?
  • How would you summarize today's lesson for someone who wasn't here?
  • What was the most significant learning from today?
  • What "a-ha" did you have today?
  • What was the most difficult concept in today’s lesson?
  • What should I review further in our next lesson?

If you are running short on time:

  • On a scale of 1-5—using your fingers—rate today's lesson. To eliminate peer pressure, have everyone close their eyes.
  • As you leave today, I'll be at the door. Please share with me one word or concept you learned today (...obviously more difficult with larger classes).

Closure could also be a simple comment such as:

  • Today, we did this…..tomorrow we will continue by doing that….
  • Tomorrow you will need to bring…
  • Tonight’s homework is….

Provide a Get-Out-of-Class Ticket

Ask students to write down one potential TEST QUESTION from today's lesson. Collect them as your students leave the room, a ticket out of class, if you will. Hang on to them. You might want to use one or two on an upcoming unit exam. This also provides a chance to personally connect. Saying goodbye is an opportunity to build up individual relationships with your students which, in turn, helps build up a positive classroom culture.

Copyright and Permissions:

Thanks to Dr. Rod Lucero, Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Associate Director for the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation (STEPP) at Colorado State University, for this Teaching Tip. Rod is the Master Teacher Initiative (MTI) Coordinator for the College of Applied Human Sciences.