Developing Endings with Primary Writers
What kind of endings do your students write? I get a lot of “THE END,” or things like, “…and I went home.” We had already worked on great leads and I was happy with their lead statements and questions that started their stories. Many of them were adding important details to support their topics and several were no longer deviating topics. We were growing as writers, but I was growing tired of reading the same endings over and over again. It seemed like they all were abruptly ending their stories without much care for their reader. We needed to start small.
We began by looking at endings that were funny, showed a resolution and endings that restated the topic without offending the reader. Sometimes just restating what happened isn’t enough. We talked about the fact that the reader just determined what the story is about, restating the topic isn’t always necessary, but at certain times it can be appropriate.
Two of our favorite examples for ending with a resolution were The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’neill and You Will Be My Friend, by Peter Brown. Each had a problem that was resolved through friendship. We looked at books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff that circle all the way back to the beginning and restate it at the end. We also looked at books by Mo Willems that all seem to end with humor.
I decided to make a general chart first that reminded students to check on a few things and wrapped up with checking the ending. I wanted them adding this to their revising and editing routine. It was easier to talk about what NOT to do and wait to see what students DID do.
Once students were actively changing endings and had good examples we started sharing them. Students became the teacher and showed what kind of ending they used.
“The End,” became, “I had a great time at Kentucky and I can’t wait to go again.”
Here, a student had a decent ending but she decided to add even more to make it stronger. This was a nice example of really thinking through the feeling you have at the end of a story and sharing that with your reader, even when you feel like you are done with the piece.
“The next morning I went home,” became, “I want to go again.”
He also had “It was fun,” as an alternate but crossed it out. We talked about how it might be okay to leave it in the story since adding a feeling can also be a way to wrap up a story.
Once we had a few good examples we made a new chart with some alternatives and suggestions all students could try.
Then kids started to write endings. Students learned endings.
My attempt at a humorous ending. But really…
What ideas have you tried to get stronger endings from your students? Do you have some good examples to share? I am still on the hunt to show more great text examples, as well as student examples, to really get my students pushing past the endings they are used to.