How “sticky” are your lessons?

As teachers, we spend hours planning lessons. However how much consideration do you give to the end of your lessons or to a closure activity? In the last few weeks, I have come across several articles about how to end lessons so I wanted to dig a bit deeper.

As you probably know, I am a big fan of starting a lesson with warm-up activity but how we end our lesson is also important for student learning.

Here are some reasons why teachers should use closure activities:

· to check for understanding and gather feedback

· re-state and emphasize important information from the lesson

· tie up loose ends

· correct any misunderstandings or confusion

Closure is also important for students because it can help them to:

· summarize, review, and demonstrate their understanding of major points

· consolidate and internalize key information

· link lesson ideas to prior knowledge

· apply ideas to new situations

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 suggests that an effective “closure” activity at the end of each class period can help create what psychologists call the Recency Effect, or otherwise known as a last impression.

(The complete article is available at

I like Lucero’s description of a closure activity — “something that will reverberate for hours after the lesson is over, “something a little sticky”. If you reflect on your own teaching, how would you rate the “stickiness” of your lesson closure? I have to admit that I often ran overtime which left little time for a proper closure.

If you are looking for some ways to end or close your lessons, Todd Finlay has listed some great ideas on his blog

I have listed a few of my favourites below and have also included some of Todd’s Creative Closure Activities:

1. Snowstorm (good for young learners)

Students write down what they learned on a piece of scratch paper and wad it up. Given a signal, they throw their paper snowballs in the air. Then each learner picks up a nearby response and reads it aloud.

2. Gallery Walk

On chart paper, small groups of students write what they learned. Students walk around the “gallery” viewing the work and attach “post-it notes” to the posters to extend on the ideas, add questions, or offer feedback.

3. Question Stems

Have students write questions about the lesson on cards, using question stems framed around Bloom’s Taxonomy. Have students exchange cards and answer the question they have acquired.

4. Three W’s

Students discuss or write:

What did we learn today?

So What ? (relevancy, importance, usefulness)

Now What? (how does this fit into what we are learning, does it affect our thinking, can we predict where we are going)

5. 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 (this is their “exit pass”). Use the questions for review.

6. Exit Ticket Folder

Ask students to write down what they learned, and any lingering questions on a blank card or “ticket.” Then students deposit their exit tickets in a folder or basket labeled either “Got It,” “More Practice, Please,” or “I Need Some Help!” — based on their understanding of the content.

7. Out-the-Door Activity

After writing down the learning outcome, ask students to take a card, circle one of the following options, and return the card to you before they leave:

· Stop (I’m totally confused.)

· Go (I’m ready to move on.)

· Proceed with caution (I could use some clarification on . . .)

Download a very creative pdf file here for this

On a final note, James Lang, Professor of English and Director of Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in the U.S. suggests that “teachers finish class five minutes early to specifically close the class”. He recommends an activity such as Close the Loopwhere you circle back to how you started the class (this means finish off the lesson by mirroring those strategies used at the beginning of class). For example, if you opened with questions, close by revising the questions and having students formulate the answers. Or if you started with testing student’s prior knowledge, close the lesson by having them think about whether the class confirmed or contradicted what they knew.

For more closure ideas, read Ann Sipe’s 40 Ways to Leave a Lesson at

Please share some of your own strategies to ensure the “stickiness” of your lessons.

Happy teaching! Patrice

Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL has 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada including 7 years in Hong Kong. Patrice has taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. Patrice now works as a teacherpreneur doing the things that she loves such as writing courses, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching and travelling at any time of the year to conduct short-term training around the world. Please visit for free teaching resources.