Edutopia: Writing Superhero Conclusions with the Phantom Endings Exercise

by Caroline Trull High School English teacher in North Carolina

Students are taught that a closing paragraph should accomplish three things:

  1. Restate an essay’s thesis
  2. Summarize main points
  3. Provide a finished feel

In response to this information, young writers often exhibit confusion. “Aren’t I repeating myself if I copy the same content from the first paragraph? And what’s a finished feel?”

Although well intended, essay writing practice is often unfocused, instead of a targeted way of addressing problems with conclusions. And while instructors commonly suggest that novice authors read more mentor texts, this is not a direct route to improving writing, much less constructing conclusions. So what’s a more time- and energy-efficient way to give students confidence about writing conclusions?

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