Developing a Thesis Statement
Lesson objective(s): By the end of the class period, students should have a working thesis. They may change it afterward, but it should provide them with a solid start.
Total estimated time: 50 minutes.
Additional outcome(s): Students should develop a better sense of what a thesis statement is.
Course work or assignment underway: Final paper on cultural structures that make Creationism possible.
Work and/or reading completed before class:
Students should bring in at least three sources they plan to use for their essay. They should have already read these texts carefully and picked out at least two passages from each that they think will be especially useful.
Sequence of Classroom Activities
1. Optional: Brainstorm (on board) what makes a good thesis statement. You should have already had this conversation with your students, but you/they may want to review (5 minutes).
2. Examine the question together as a group. Discuss what would make good answers to this particular question. Also think specifically about what kind of language and syntax might help them craft a strong thesis. [For example, I like to make them use the word “because” in their thesis – it encourages them to write the thesis as a specific argument. I also like emphasize theses with lists – have them consider listing their major points in their thesis for clarity] (10 minutes).
3. Have students come up with a thesis statement for their essay, bearing in mind the evidence they’ve already selected (10 minutes).
4. Have them exchange thesis statements and give each other advice, revise (5 minutes).
5. Come back together as a group and have students volunteer thesis statements. Once you have five, go through and discuss/revise them as a class. It would be helpful to have a computer for this so that you can easily revise together and show the original and revision. [I like to put up five and make sure to praise/critique all of them so no one feels too exposed. I also like to sell it as a great chance to have the class help you with your thesis] (20 minutes).
Download: Developing a Thesis Statement (doc)