5 Techie Ideas for Lesson Closure

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Closure is one of the most important components to a quality lesson. It is also the one lesson component that many of us tend to leave out since we are constantly racing the clock. I can't tell you how many lessons I have had to end abruptly because I didn't anticipate having to reteach the concept a million different ways, we were late to lunch, a surprise fire drill popped up, a parent walked in unannounced needing to talk to me (that was always my favorite), etc.. Sometimes lesson closure just doesn't happen. However, when the chance arises, we need to capitalize on wrapping up and reflecting the last few minutes of the lesson in a variety of ways.

Lesson closure is important because...

    🚪The teacher can check for student understanding
    🚪Students have the opportunity to draw conclusions
    🚪Quiet thinkers have the opportunity to articulate their new ideas
    🚪Students become more reflective thinkers
    🚪Teachers become more reflective about their teaching practice

5 Techie Ideas for Lesson Closure. Technology in the Classroom

During my first year teaching I was partnered with an incredible veteran teacher, Debbie Goodrich, who served as my mentor. I could not have asked for a better mentor. She truly taught me so much more than one could ever learn in Elementary Education classes. I remember vividly a day when we sat down to write a lesson plan together. She told me that one of the most important components to a lesson is the closure piece. Debbie told me to think of lesson closure like a jar of butterflies. If you quickly put a lid on the jar, all of those beautiful butterflies will stay inside. However, if you leave the lid off, all of those beautiful butterflies will fly away. The jar of butterflies was a metaphor for the information delivered during a lesson to a child. To this day I see that butterfly jar image in my head every time I think about lesson structure. POWERFUL!

I was really good about lesson closure my first year teaching. After every lesson was complete, I would have my students take out their journals and respond to a wrap-up question that I would write on the board. I mean, I was really good at this lesson closure "thing". I was SO good that my students quickly decided that they didn't like to write anymore because I required them to write after every lesson. They hated lesson closure.

Boy times have changed since that first year of teaching! I have experimented with all sorts of different types of lesson closures and I find that students just like fun and fresh ideas, not that same mundane activity over and over again.

5 Techie Ideas for Lesson Closure. Technology in the Classroom

So, for you tech lovers, here are 5 E-A-S-Y lesson closure activities that will help keep those butterflies in the jar while making your students engage in meaningful reflective practice.

Recap is a brand new & FREE web tool AND app that students use to respond to a prompt provided by their teacher through a video recording. This easy to use and intuitive tech tool is pretty amazing. Students sign in with a simple code, view the question the teacher provides, record, and send their video to the teacher's dashboard. The teacher can share individual responses with other students, parents and educators, or show a daily review reel in class. This would be an incredible tool to wrap up a lesson while having your students engage in reflective practice!

 To get set up, visit https://letsrecap.com/ and set up a free account.


Add a class.

Name your class and decide how you would like students to sign in (I find that class pin is easiest for younger children).

Add students. Click Add Class.

Add a recap (prompt).

Type the question you would like your students to respond to in their video reflection. Click Next.

Decide on a recording limit, due date, which class(es) you are assigning that question to as well as if you would like to include an "Assess Yourself" poll. Click Send.

After you complete the steps above, you will be ready for students to do their recordings. Your students can use the free iPad app, Recap, or they can visit the website: https://app.letsrecap.com/student/login.

Students enter the class code and choose their name:

Students will see your question and when they are ready, they will press the record button. A 3-2-1 countdown appears and then recording is in progress.

After students press stop, they have the option of previewing, recording or continuing on to submit. 

If you selected the "Access Yourself" option when you created the Recap, then students will be prompted to answer here:

Once they press Next, the video is sent to the teacher's account. Note: I had to refresh my page before I saw any videos pop up.

Here is what the teacher sees on his/her dashboard:

The teacher can even provide feedback to the student videos that students can see the next time they sign in:

I think Recap would be an incredibly valuable tool to use to wrap up your lessons. You can even email or send a link to parents to view their child's response:

Erintegration blogged a few months ago about using the Post-It Plus app to digitize actual sticky notes that students use as a quick exit ticket. This idea for lesson closure is really nice for those of you who do not always have access to devices. All you need is one iPad or Smartphone for this idea! In a nutshell, students write responses on a sticky note and post it somewhere in your classroom. You or a helper would use the Post-It Plus app to take a picture/scan the sticky notes in the room and it saves to the app. You can then export the digital stickies as a PDF, PowerPoint file or Excel file! Click on the image below to take you to Erin's post so you can read more about this neat idea:

5 Techie Ideas for Lesson Closure. Technology in the Classroom

I love her exit slip posters you can purchase to organize the post-its...especially the 
EM😎JI ones...

To go along with Erintegration's exit slip posters, I have two different Google Slides presentations that contain lesson wrap-up reflection questions. Project this presentation, have a child click on an emoji (from the Emoji Edition) or a book (from the Standard Edition) and a wrap up question is revealed. Students could write their response on a post-it or any digital tool of your choice to submit! If you are running out of time then just have students turn and talk to a friend.

These are on SALE for the next two days! Check out my promo video to see these products in more detail:



If you choose to use this presentation often and need to access it quickly, I suggest bookmarking it or making a shortcut on your desktop. That way it is right there, a click away, when you are in a time crunch.

To bookmark in Chrome:

Open the presentation and click the star. Rename the presentation and click Done:

To make a shortcut on your desktop:

Drag and drop the little lock icon next to the url onto your desktop.

Did ya hear the BIG news? Google Forms now allows you to upload images as answer choices! K/1 teachers...this is HUGE. Wrap up your lesson with a fun yet QUICK reflection form in Google forms. Here is one I made using emojis. (Click HERE if you would like a copy...this will take you to the summary of responses. To access the form, go to Form>Go to Live Form):

5 Techie Ways to add closure to any lesson: Emoji Wrap-Up Google Form-FREE

If you have access to iPads, take the url to your Google Form and turn it into a QR code for students to quickly scan and access your wrap-up form.

Use a virtual collaboration board for students to post closure question responses. Padlet, BoardThing, Lino and Stoodle are all tools that will work on any device that has a web-browser.

Prompt them with a question you have, a question from one of my wrap-up presentations mentioned above or use Kagan dice/chips to reveal a question! You can check out the Kagan tools in my affiliate links below. My students always loved when I chose a special volunteer to roll the dice or pick a chip out of a hat :)

Example using a Padlet Wall
Your students will be so curious to read what their friends write so think of this as an instant lesson review!

There they are folks! 5 techie ways to add closure to any lesson.

Don't forget how important it is to put the lid on your jar full of butterflies!

Follow me on Pinterest to get more techie ideas:

Creation Crates for Your Makerspace GIVEAWAY

Friday, August 19, 2016

Are you looking to expand your Makerspace, spice up computer programming time or just simply want to engage your students in some critical thinking and problem solving? If so, I encourage you to check out Creation Crate.

Creation Crates. Learn the ins and outs of computer programming while engaging in critical thinking and problem solving.

Creation Crate sent me their Mood Lamp kit last week and I had a blast assembling and programming this unit to light up blue, red and greenish/yellow. I was able to program the lights to blink, control the brightness and manipulate how much darkness was needed before the lamp would light up. Kids would have an absolute blast with this kit.

Program Creation Crate's Mood Lamp to light up in different colors and blink.

I have to say, the instructions and problem shooting guide made this kit really stand out. Even though the entire code is provided for the students to enter, there are three questions included that encourage students to explore and experiment with changing their code. That aspect of this kit really appealed to me. 

Age Recommendations:

The site recommends ages 12+ but I truly think kids in 3rd and 4th grade could benefit from these exploration kits, especially if you team them up or put them into small groups! If you have a child younger than that but is mesmerized my programming, have them work with an adult or older mentor.

Ordering Boxes:

You can order just one box ($29.99) OR to get the most bang for your buck, buy a subscription for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months and they send you a different kit each month. How fun would that be to receive a new kit and swap out your Makerspace station or just build it up?!

If you are interested in trying out a Creation Crate then here is a special deal just for YOU:

Get 10% OFF your first box!

Follow me on Pinterest to get more techie ideas:

5 Ways Your Students Can Get to Know Y-O-U

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teachers go over and beyond to get to know every little thing about their students. We spend hours days months observing, asking questions and doing everything in our power to understand a child's academic strengths and weaknesses, their social strengths and weaknesses, their likes/dislikes, their family background, their background knowledge, EVERY LITTLE THING. But how often are we letting our students get to know US, their teacher?

5 creative ways students can get to know their teacher

Many people may argue that there is no need to spend time telling our students about who we are as individuals and letting them take a peek through the window to our life that exists outside of the confines of our classroom walls.

I couldn't disagree more.

We HAVE to form relationships with our students because without relationships, we will not be able to reach them.

Kids are one of the most curious creatures in our world. They want to know the who, what, when, where and most importantly, why. I can remember the day I brought my iPad into my 3rd grade classroom to show my students a little activity I did using Educreations and pictures I had taken around my house. We had been learning about angles and were going to go on a picture hunt around the school that day to take pictures of angles around us. I had made a little digital book that showed angles around my home. In fact, here it is:


I remember so vividly how engaged those kids were when I pressed play. In between every picture transition a roar of laughter and pure excitement was heard. I had NO idea how much this lesson would impact their little minds. Right after we viewed the ONE minute video, I said, "What in the world? Why did you all enjoy that so much?" I had to know. Did they see something funny in the background that I was missing? Did I miss pronounce a word? Did I get my angles wrong?

None of the above.

They told me that they thought it was so cool that I took pictures around my house to share with them.

That's it?

That's all (so they said....).

Wow. We continued on with our lesson and when it came time to take pictures, I can't tell you how many students mentioned the one picture in the video above with Rusty's legs (my dog) serving as the acute angle. They wanted to make "cute" acute angles with the legs of our reading buddies (stuffed animals) to look just like Rusty's.  Boom! We all will never forget what an acute angle looks like 😜

That was just one out of thousands of instances in which bringing my life into our classroom was so meaningful.

So here are 5 ways (but aren't limited to!) you can get your students to know you:

Make a video AT HOME to introduce yourself the first week of school. Shoot it with your phone. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, they are kids after all. Heck, they could make a better movie than most of us! But your students won't be focusing on the quality of your video. It is going to be what you show them. Video tape yourself at your front door as you welcome them into your home. Show them your favorite snacks in the pantry. Scan the area where you like to read (no need to mention WHAT you read😂). Do this to show your students you are real...a real person they can trust, respect and look up to each and every day.

Some FREE apps you can use to quickly compile all of your video clips include:

Play one of my Getting to Know Your Teacher Games. I have this available in both Google Slides and PowerPoint. I LOVE playing this game during the first week of school but you can save it for when you really need to spice things up. Totally up to you!


Students get a recording sheet with all of the questions that appear in the presentation. They make predictions in the first column as they guess what they "think" you might answer. Then you launch the presentation which you have already filled in with your answers about YOU (editable answer slides). They write the correct answer in the second column.

Your students will learn so many cool facts about YOU in a fun and entertaining way. And get THIS...you will be assessing their handwriting and spelling at a glance without those children even knowing it.

Here is my promo video to show you what all is included.

Hopefully you have a pet at home. If you don't, pretend you do starting NOW. Kids LOVE animals. I always kept a photo of my small dog, Riley, on my front board. His ears are sticking up like antennas in the picture so I had the words printed on the picture: Are your listening ears turned on? When students weren't listening, I simply pointed to the picture. It was magic. It was like they actually thought Riley was watching them. (Who needs Elf on the Shelf? ha!)

I would bring Riley's name up at some point every day. It was usually silly. We all know kids crave silliness. For instance, I would introduced a topic in science and say, "Oh my goodness. Today we are going to learn about Riley's FAVORITE science concept, The Water Cycle." Those listening ears would tune in.

Work those pet pictures, videos, and stories into your lessons. There is a strange connection between children and animals I tell ya!

Invite your students in pairs to have lunch with you in your classroom at some point throughout the year. Typically I try to accomplish this the first few weeks of school. I won't deny, it is a struggle to give up my lunch break and skip the one chance I had to use the restroom; however, I wouldn't trade it for the world. This was the time that I could interact with my students without worrying if they were grasping concepts or had enough time to finish an assignment. I know many teachers have this lunch bunch time. But how often do we share information about US? Usually the adult is the one to prompt the questions. So after the students answer, answer the same question yourself! This also models good conversation for our students. How many adults do we know who tend to monopolize conversations by answering all of the questions but not listening to others/asking questions themselves? I know too many and perhaps they need a little lesson on how conversations are intended to work. Prompt your students to ask YOU questions too!

Write your students a letter and have your students respond. Tell them all about YOU with the hope they will be able to make some connections or at least spark some curiosity.

For those of you who are 1:1 or just simply integrate technology whenever you can, check out my Friendly Letter product in Google Slides. It is just $1.00 :)

The slide is already formatted with the 5 components that make up a friendly letter: heading (date), salutation, body, closing and signature. Students simply replace the red text with their information and body and then change all of the text to be black (an animated gif is included on slide #4 to show them exactly how to do this :)

Friendly Letter template in Google Slides

Then you can hop on and leave comments for the children without having to write each child their own individual letter. One year I implemented communication journals. Students would write me a letter in their writing journal using the friendly letter format. I would lug all 24 journals home and respond using the friendly letter format. It was A LOT of work. I was also a young, single teacher at the time that had more time on my hands. I can't imagine being able to do that now. However, being able to leave quick, little digital comments would be easy and still effective. The child will feel like they have a voice while also forming a relationship with you, the teacher.

So there are 5 easy ways your students can get to know YOU. What are some other ways for your students get to know you? Leave your ideas in the comments! I would love to hear what you do in your classroom :)

New, Innovative Tools for Teachers-The Visual Edge: Graphic Organizers for Standards Based Learning

Monday, August 15, 2016

A sponsored post by Sargy Letuchy.

ELA Common Core Standards pose many challenges for students and teachers, including quantity, rigor, and a lack of precise resources.  In terms of quantity, teachers are asked to teach and students to learn over 60 standards in 180 school days.  In terms of rigor, many standards are cognitively-demanding and require higher-level thinking skills, such as multi-variable analysis and evaluation.  Finally, there aren't many comprehensive resources available for the middle and high school standards.  Even the most skillful teacher would be challenged.  The Visual Edge: Graphic Organizers for Standards Based Learning is designed based on the principle that visual learning is an effective, efficient way to tackle these challenges.  It is a book and e-book of visual instructional tools carefully crafted for each English, History, and Science-grades 6-12 standard. 

The Visual Edge enables visual learning, and provides the ready-made instructional clarity, precision, flexibility, and efficiency needed to master the quantity and rigor of Common Core.


The Visual Edge is organized into five sections according to grade level:
• 6th grade
• 7th grade
• 8th grade
• 9th-10th grade
• 11th-12th grade
Grade level sections have a chapter on Common Core’s language modalities and disciplines:
• Reading Informational Text
• Reading Literature Text
• Writing
• Speaking/Listening
• Language
• History/Social Studies
• Science/Technical

Each chapter contains a visual instructional tool for each of the modalities’ and disciplines' standards.

Every page has three sections.  At the top is the standard(s) in full text.  Next is an explanation section that clarifies the standard and details how to use the visual instructional tool at the bottom of the page to teach and demonstrate the standard.  The majority of each page features a corresponding carefully crafted visual instructional tool (e.g., a graphic organizer or example guide) that captures the intricacies of each standard and helps make lessons more effective.


Engagement Clarity A learning standard becomes more academically comprehensible when students can see what it entails.  The Visual Edge takes the guesswork out of instruction and put both students and teachers on the same page, creating a more powerful connection between lessons and outcomes. 

Student Centered Students can choose a developmentally appropriate topic of interest to read, write about, speak to, or listen to and use The Visual Edge as the vehicle to show their skill based learning that has taken place.

Lesson Precision Because many of the standards involve accounting for multiple variables in one exercise, it becomes difficult to keep track of all of the moving parts.  The Visual Edge organizes all of the variables in a logical sequence to ensure that all components are accounted for in a single, pointed lesson. 

Efficiency As the instructional pace has picked up with so many standards to teach and learn, maximization of time has become of the essence.  The Visual Edge maintains classroom attention on the standard(s) and ensures lessons are productive for
students in an environment where every minute counts.

Classroom Use

Whole Class Instruction Modeling being a primary first step in skill learning, The Visual Edge’s tools can be projected onto a screen/whiteboard and a teacher can use it to explicitly show students how to complete the standard. 

Cooperative/Independent Learning Both group and individual based lessons being a secondary process for building deeper understanding and independence, The Visual Edge’s tools can be distributed to students so they can engage in further precise learning of the standard(s).

Assessment Formal and summative assessment being critical pieces in measuring what students know and are able to do, The Visual Edge’s tools can be a part of an assessment, making sure that the intended standard is measured accurately and the data is valid/reliable.

Projects/Portfolios Projects/portfolios being great opportunities for individualizing instruction and building in student interest, The Visual Edge’s tools can ensure that students’ takeaways are consistent to the standard(s).

Examples and Explanations of Use

We’ve all heard the saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’  The same idea applies when students are able to see the standard visually depicted.  Simply designing a task verbally for students brings with it a level of vagueness with respect to what it means and what it would look like to complete it.  It leaves too much to the student’s imagination.  However, when a visual instructional tool is provided/used, students can get it and go straight to the task at hand.  This section features examples of standards based visual instructional tools, one which is filled out, and explanations of how they can be used. 

This writing standard below asks students to utilize the elements of introduction, organization/broader categories, formatting, and graphics/multi-media for informative/explanatory writing.  With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the topic at the top and brainstorm an introduction in the first table, an organization strategy/categorization in the second table, formatting in the third table, and graphics/multi-media in the fourth table.

Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

This reading standard below asks students to outline and assess an informational author's argument or claim in terms of reasons and evidence and recognize what is untrue and illogical.  With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the author's argument or claim in the top box, delineate reasons and evidence in the first column, evaluate validity of reasons and relevancy/sufficiency of evidence in the second column, and identify fallacious reasons and false statements in the third column.

Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

This writing standard below asks students to find pertinent information, evaluate the value of the information, quote/paraphrase the information without plagiarism, and cite sources. With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the research question at the top, quote and/or paraphrase findings in the second column, cite sources in the third column, and assess the credibility of those sources in the fourth column. 

This graphic organizer is filled out to serve as an example of how it is used.

Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Research Question-What health risks are associated with smoking?

Sources in Bibliographical Form
Source Credibility
“Not only does smoking increase the risk for lung cancer, it’s also a risk factor for cancers of the: Mouth, Larynx, Pharynx, Esophagus, Kidney, Cervix, Liver, Bladder, Pancreas, Stomach, Colon/rectum, Myeloid leukemia

"Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco." American Cancer Society. N.p., 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 1 July 2016.
The American Cancer Society is a trusted medical source on this topic.
Smoking can escalate the risk for these diseases:
-Heart disease-2 to 4 times
-Stroke-2 to 4 times
-Men’s Lung cancer-25 times
-Women’s lung cancer-25.7 times

"Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking." CDC. N.p., 17 Feb. 2016. Web. 1 July 2016.
The CDC is a trusted govern-ment source on this topic.

The Visual Edge enables visual learning, and provides the ready-made instructional clarity, precision, flexibility, and efficiency needed to master the quantity and rigor of Common Core.  The book is now available in paperback on Amazon and Barnes N Noble, in ebook on google, or by contacting the author directly at sargyletuchy@hotmail.com.   

Sargy Letuchy has taught ESL and Social Science throughout his 14 year teaching career in suburban Chicago and is the author of The Visual Edge: Graphic Organizers for Standards Based Learning.  He holds a Bachelors of Education from Eastern Illinois University, a Masters in Educational Leadership from Midwestern State University, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University.  He is passionate about curriculum engineering for standards based outcomes and helping both teachers and students achieve instructional results.   His experience also includes presenting, consulting, and writing on Common Core and Curriculum.