By Ali Shenassa
Perhaps you’ve experienced abrupt endings firsthand – a movie that had no conclusion, a story that seemed to reach a climax and then leave you hanging, or a meal that was taken away from your table before you had the chance to sink your fork into that last juicy morsel. Such situations leave us with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction, a sensation that a piece of life didn’t reach its natural maturation, the notion that our experience of the creative work was unfairly aborted. So the conclusion or “wrap-up” is essential if we are to fully process the creative experience; the conclusion completes the entire circuit starting from the introduction all the way to the very end, allowing us to wrap up and digest the novel moments sandwiched in between.
Yet it is true that the wrap-up of an ESL lesson is often the part that is the least planned by teachers, and may become the shortfall of an otherwise flawless lesson. So the question remains - how do we create great wrap-ups for the ESL lessons we teach? Here are 5 useful tips:
1. Review the lesson.
Like a good trial lawyer who presents the jury with a concluding summary on the last day of the trial, driving home the important points, an effective teacher reinforces the key points of the lesson during the wrap-up. To make your review interactive and exciting, ask questions about the key points rather than present a boring summary, and encourage student participation. After a challenging session, students usually appreciate the added comprehensiveness a good review brings to the lesson. Your review can be as warm and comforting as an engaging story told around the campfire after a full day of strenuous activity.
2. Students compare their answers and check each other’s work.
There is often a bit of tension hanging in the air when students have been working on tasks which they’ll be put on the spot to present to the class. A great way to dispel this anxiety is to have students compare their work in pairs or small groups before having to give the answers to the teacher. The group-work itself is comforting as students get to speak to each other and come out of their individual shells. Sharing the responsibility for the answer also decreases the weight of a possible wrong answer told in front of classmates. As an added benefit, students can learn from each other and go more deeply into their work as a team.
3. Teacher checks the students’ work and gives feedback.
A basic wrap up is the teacher checking the students’ work. This could be going over the answers of a grammar exercise, which is pretty clear-cut, or something more involved such as evaluating travel brochures students designed in their teams. Be sure to use the opportunity to go over any problem areas and remember that encouragement is an essential ingredient of personal and educational growth.
4. Students present their work to the class or the world.
One of the more exciting wrap-ups for students is when they have the opportunity to present their work to the class or to a larger audience. Imagine your students have been working in small groups on creating a travel brochure about the attractions of their hometowns. Why not ask the groups to paste their brochures and photos to the board and present them to the class. Juice the process by giving the class guidelines about presentation skills such as energy, voice, and eye contact. Make sure team members participate equally in the presentations. To take it all to a higher level, you could ask the students to publish their work on a travel blog to reach the wider world of international travelers!
5. Teacher asks students for feedback.
It is a good idea to ask students for feedback about their learning process, particularly after intense lessons such as the ones involving presentations, drama, or other activities where students have left their comfort zones to find themselves again at newer heights. You could simply give the students the opportunity to share their feelings and thoughts and by doing so they will begin to process their own experiences, get a sense of closure, as well as gain insight into each other’s perspectives. The added benefit here is that any negative or confusing feelings can also be vented and your students leave your class with a clean slate, ready for your next exciting lesson and its great conclusion!