When planning a lesson, it is very important to set aside time for a closure activity. As a supervisor of student teachers, I often see this portion of the lesson being skipped, short changed, or merely perfunctory, “What did you learn today?” Closure should go much deeper than that. Closure is really the lesson ‘wrap up.’ It is also a way to check to see if the students understood the lesson as well as to determine exactly what they learned. Information from a closure activity can help to inform future instruction.
Of course it is important to check for understanding throughout the entire lesson; however closure, as the word implies, is that activity that comes at the end of the lesson. Checking for understanding is part of good instruction, which is why it is important at various points during the lesson to probe by asking questions from concrete ‘what’ questions to higher level thinking ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. Of course it is also crucial to ask the students “Are there any questions?” But none of that takes the place of bringing closure to the lesson. The closure section of the lesson, first described by Madeline Hunter, helps the students coalesce all aspects of the lesson by having them demonstrate what they have learned today.
Closure should link learning to what was just taught as well as to past and future lessons. There are lots of closure activities to choose from and can be as simple as asking students to summarize 3 important things learned in the lesson or identify and explain 2 key points of the lesson. Closure activities can also require students to build on the statements of others; can require students to draw conclusions or to identify when and how the information learned in the lesson can be used. It might be helpful to think of lesson closure as an informal formative whole group assessment, which can help drive future instruction. From a closure activity the teacher is should be able to determine if the students require more practice on the topic, understand the topic, or require additional teaching on all or part of the topic before moving on.