Cognitive Closings

Time is of the Essence

Teachers and students never have enough time in a class period, school day or even a school year!  We are always pressed for time, and taking a few minutes at the end of class for closure seems somewhat counterproductive to the idea of saving time.  I promise that it is not.

The closing is a crucial part of each day File_000because students label what they learn and this helps them commit it to memory.  Closure also shows students how each lesson connects to yesterday’s and tomorrow’s.   Eventually, this practice saves time because students begin to connect the dots between days and reflect on their learning without being prompted!

Learn from My Mistakes

File_002 (1)MISTAKE #1:  Giving all of the closings to students at once, without modeling.

At first, it’s best to choose one closing at a time for the entire class.  Model it, and then have kids try it. Once they’ve practiced using all of them, they can begin choosing which one they want to use at the end of each class.

MISTAKE #2:  Not being specific about how specific students need to be.

Make them be specific.  If students learned the scientific method, they need to list the parts of the scientific method, and not just say, “We learned about the scientific method.”

MISTAKE #3:  Thinking students must always write their closings.

I do want students to write these closings several times a week, but students can also turn and talk to share ideas or discuss them as a whole class when we are really crunched for time.  If we skip the closing when we are pressed for time, we show students that it really isn’t a crucial piece of learning.


John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” People need this opportunity to reflect in order to process what they’ve experienced… whether it was confusion in math class, or a current event in humanities, or a character’s decision in language arts… I think of all of the reflecting adults do daily when we’re talking with friends, exercising, or posting on Twitter and Facebook. It’s our responsibility to show kids how to do this with matters of substance so they can choose their paths, make their plans, and be the people they’re most capable of being.

Try the prompts here, and let me know what you think. I’d love to help in any way and to learn from you too.

Cognitive Closing Prompts

List one thing you learned today, and explain how it connects to other parts of your life- other classes, family, friends, hobbies, or sports…

Share one opinion you have about what we read, saw, or heard.  Explain why you feel that way.

Connect today’s learning to something we learned before or to another class. Explain how the two connect.

List questions that linger from today’s lesson.  Where can you find answers to those questions?

Describe or draw images which illustrate today’s thinking and learning.  Add a short caption.

Explain how your thinking about our current topic has grown or changed since we began it. What/who changed your thinking?

Explain why what we learned today matters to you, your family, people your age, our community, our country, or humankind.

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