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And in Conclusion: Inquiring into Strategies for Writing Effective Conclusions

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And in Conclusion: Inquiring into Strategies for Writing Effective Conclusions

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



As part of the drafting and revision process for a current literary analysis essay (or another type of argument), students first participate in initial peer review to improve the argument in their essay. Then they inquire into published tips and advice on writing conclusions and analyze sample conclusions with a partner before choosing two strategies they would like to try in their own writing, drafting a conclusion that employs each.  After writing two different conclusions and conferring with a peer about them, they choose one and reflect on why they chose it, as well as what they learned about writing conclusions and the writing process more broadly.  Though this lesson is framed around an argumentative literary essay, its structure could be easily adapted to other written forms.

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List of Online Resources for Writing Conclusions:  Organized in two parts, these resources allow students to inquire into different published advice on writing conclusions to academic essays and then offer students sample essays to review and critique.

Conclusion Inquiry Guide:  Students use these prompts to guide their inquiry into advice on writing conclusions and sample argumentative essays.

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The conclusions to student essays are often formulaic restatements of the key ideas of their introductions.  While there is fairly wide agreement on strategies for constructing and improving introductions, there are fewer resources investigating “how to conclude,” partly perhaps because of the very context- and piece-specific nature of what a conclusion might do.

This lesson, then, draws heavily on two ideas from the more foundational NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing to guide students through inquiry into the genre of the argumentative essay and what function the conclusion can serve:

  • “Developing writers require support. This support can best come through carefully designed writing instruction oriented toward acquiring new strategies and skills.”

  • “As is the case with many other things people do, getting better at writing requires doing it -- a lot. This means actual writing, not merely listening to lectures about writing, doing grammar drills, or discussing readings. The more people write, the easier it gets and the more they are motivated to do it.”

Students participating in this lesson are supported in the specific task of drafting multiple conclusions to an essay to determine which is most effective, a process that itself involves significant writing to achieve.

Writing Study Group of the NCTE Executive Committee. 2016. Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing. February 2016. Web. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/teaching-writing

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