Introductions and Conclusions

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons
Editor: Scott McDaniel

Time: 1 class period
15 minutes
Materials: Copies of sample essay introduction, or one copy on a transparency and an overhead projector


The introductory paragraph of an academic essay is where students don’t present major pieces of evidence or cite other sources. Their personal voice therefore must shine, which makes many students nervous. They must craft an outline of where they plan to take the reader. This lesson will allow the class to explore the methods for creating an intro which accomplishes these motives. The concluding paragraph of the essay also presents a challenge for many writers due to the fact that they must find a way to bring the reader a sense of closure while reconfirming the most important points in the essay. Students will learn some techniques and guidelines which will help them accomplish these ends.

Purpose – The goal of this lesson is to help students explore the techniques for writing an effective introduction and concluding paragraph in their academic essay.

Students will be able to:
1. Explore the components of a successful essay introduction and conclusion.
2. Practice writing introductory and concluding essay paragraphs.

National English Education Standard
Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Teacher Background
The teacher should have an understanding of techniques associated with writing introductory and concluding paragraphs. This lesson teaches students that the introductory paragraph should contain not only the thesis statement and the attention grabber, but also serves to provide an outline of the essay to the reader. The introduction is similar to the conclusion in that both paragraphs cover the major points of the essay; however the conclusion must give the reader a sense of finality and should provide a powerful final impression of the importance of the topic and the opinions of the author. The conclusion should also include a call to action for the reader - now that he or she knows this information, what does the author expect him/her to do with it?

Related and Resource Websites



1. Opener: Ask the class the following question (this may be written on the board ahead of time): “What is the purpose of the introductory and concluding paragraphs of your essay? What are the components of each? Create a double column chart in which you briefly outline the purposes and components of each paragraph.” Allow the class about 10 minutes for this starter activity.

2. Set up a double column chart on the board and ask for student input in filling in the two columns titled “introduction” and “conclusion”. Review the information the class has gathered, and see that they understand the purposes and components of each paragraph.

3. Mini-Lesson: In this part of the lesson, students will read a sample essay introduction which you will hand out. You may use one of your own devising, borrow from a writing manual, or use the one below:

Don’t Take That Breath!

“ People who breathe high levels of CO can develop vision problems, reduced ability to work or learn, reduced manual dexterity, and difficulty performing complex tasks. At extremely high levels, CO is poisonous and can cause death.“ *

Have you ever thought about what harm you might be doing to yourself every time you take a breath? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t even worry about what goes into your lungs with each inhalation. If you live in or near a city, however, you might want to think about what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has to say about the dangerous effects of air pollution on human health. Do you know that carbon monoxide is only one of six major contaminators of our air? Where do these pollutants originate? What are the hazardous effects of breathing in this smoggy city sludge? And finally, what can we do about it? Let us first consider the six major pollutants that air quality agencies have named as dangerous to us and our environment and where these nefarious air wreckers come from.

*Quote taken from http://www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/co/hlth1.html

4. Give the students a few minutes to read the sample intro paragraph, and then ask them the following questions:

  • What do you notice about this introduction? (it has three parts)
  • Can you identify the three components of this introduction? (it has a title, a quote or attention getter after that, and then the intro paragraph follows)
  • What do you notice about the title? (it’s catchy)
  • Describe the quote. What is its purpose? (to get the reader’s attention with an important fact relating to the essay topic)
  • Does the author succeed in getting your attention? (answers will vary)
  • Does the author give us a blueprint for what he will discuss in his essay? (yes)
  • What will he speak about in his three body paragraphs? (the six major air pollutants, their hazardous effects, and what we can do to minimize them)

5. Now that students have a good idea of how to set up their intro paragraphs, briefly review the purposes of the concluding paragraph. Most students understand that the conclusion should review the main points raised in the essay, but remind them that it should not be repetitive.

6. Also note that the conclusion should include some sort of call to action - spell out exactly what the reader should do after reading the essay in order to make a difference in this situation.

Remind the students to review their own essays carefully to see that their introductory and concluding paragraphs fit the criteria explained during the lesson.

Students should be working on their final project essays at home, and no additional homework need be assigned.

Embedded Assessment
The final project essays will be assessed to see if students have successfully learned and applied these writing techniques.




PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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