Writing Thesis Statements



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Writing Thesis Statements

  • An Interactive Activity to Develop Effective Writing Skills
  • Adapted from:
  • http://www.slideshare.net/mr_rodriguez23/thesis-identifying-activity

Lesson Essential Questions

  • When given a writing prompt, how much do you have to read to understand the topic or purpose?
  • What is the purpose of writing a thesis statement?
  • What are the components of a strong thesis statement.

Thesis Statements

  • Give direction
  • An essay without a thesis statement is like a car without a driver

What is a thesis statement?

  • A thesis statement is a sentence used in an essay that serves as the guide for the essay and directly answers the question or task asked of you.

What is a thesis NOT?

  • A factual statement
  • A topic sentence
  • TOPIC SENTENCE:
  • Bhutan is a small nation in South Asia.

Characteristics of a Thesis Statement

  • Addresses the prompt clearly
  • Makes a claim or presents an argument
  • Is arguable (an opinion)
  • In first paragraph of essay
  • Does not use “You” or “We”

Let’s try to spot a thesis!

  • On each of the following slides, read the writing prompt and the two sample statements. Choose the one that is the best choice for a thesis

1. Early on in life, people develop an admiration for heroes. In a well-developed essay, discuss a person you admire and why you chose this person.

  • Option A
  • Option B
  • One person I admire is Babe Ruth, who played baseball from 1914 until 1935.
  • One person I admire is Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player of all time.

Incorrect

  • Option A
  • One person I admire is Babe Ruth, who played baseball from 1914 until 1935.
  • Although this does address the writing prompt, this is a factual statement. A thesis statement should be something you can argue for or against.

Correct! Great Job!

  • One person I admire is Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player of all time.
  • Option B
  • This statement addresses the prompt, and presents and opinion that can be argued.

2. Research indicates that our society has become more violent.  Crime is on the rise in both urban and rural areas.  Many adults are convinced that popular movies and video games encourage young people to become violent. Do you agree or disagree with the opinion that modern movies and/or video games have contributed to the rise of violent crime in the United States?

  • Option A
  • Option B
    • Violent crime is not caused by movies and video games because it is the parents’ fault.
    • Young people are influenced more by their parents, environments, and friends than they are influenced by violent video games and movies.

Incorrect

    • Violent crime is not caused by movies and video games because it is the parents’ fault.
  • Option A
  • This thesis does present an opinion, but it doesn’t address the entire prompt. It doesn’t specify teen violence. How could all violent crime be the parents’ fault?

Correct!!!!

  • Option B
    • Young people are influenced more by their parents, environments, and friends than they are influenced by violent video games and movies.
  • This is correct because it addresses the all aspects of the prompt and presents a clear opinion. This thesis lets the reader know exactly how the rest of the paper will be laid out.

3. State law requires high school students to pass exit tests before they graduate from high school. Consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of passing required exit tests.  Do you agree or disagree with making high-stakes exit tests, such as the Graduation Test, a requirement for high school graduation?

  • Option A
  • Option B
  • Exit exams are a good idea because they can help determine if students are ready for college or work and help judge if teachers are doing their jobs.

Correct! You are getting this!

  • Exit exams are a good idea because they can help determine if students are ready for college or work and help judge if teachers are doing their jobs.
  • Option A
  • This statement gives an argument, it presents the details asked for in the prompt, and makes reference to reasons to support the prompt.

Almost! But not quite.

  • Option B
  • If a student can pass all of his classes, he should still graduate.
  • The reason it is not a good thesis is because it does not address the whole prompt. Also it only presents one point. This would work better as part of a body paragraph.

4. Your school board is considering presenting all high–school classes online as a means of cutting costs and taking advantage of technology. Consider both situations: real-time, interactive virtual classrooms with all classes conducted online so you could receive instruction while at home, or classrooms filled with students and a teacher inside of a school that you attend all day. Decide how these different modes of education would affect you, your classmates, and the education you receive.

  • Option A
  • Option B
    • You shouldn’t switch to online classes because we don’t have enough computers or money.
  • Online classes would not be a good idea because some students do not have access to a computer and there would be no teacher to help students understand the subject.

This one is tricky!

  • Option A
  • You shouldn’t switch to online classes because we don’t have enough computers or money.
  • While this one does mention the prompt, it uses “you” and “we.” Also, it is not a clearly arguable statement.

Correct! You are on a roll!

  • Option B
  • This statement gives an argument, and address all aspects of the writing prompt (topic, effect, factors). Notice how you do not have to go into detail, just give the reader a hint of what you will write about.
  • Online classes would not be a good idea because some students do not have access to a computer and there would be no teacher to help students understand the subject.

5. Technology has changed our country a great deal in the last 10 years. Your social studies class is debating the importance of many new inventions in today’s world. Decide which invention you think is the most important.

  • Option A
  • Option B
  • Smart phones are the most important invention from the last 10 years because they have changed the way people learn, work, and communicate.
  • It is smart phones because they are like pocket computers and help us do everything.

You are ready to write!

  • Option A
  • There is an opinion, the prompt is addressed, and it outlines the details of the paper.
  • Smart phones are the most important invention from the last 10 years because they have changed the way people learn, work, and communicate.

Practice. You will get there.

  • Option B
  • It is smart phones because they are like pocket computers and help us do everything.
  • Again, this would be a perfect thesis statement, if the prompt was completely mentioned and if it did not use “us”.

Your Turn!!

  • You will know apply what you learned by writing your own thesis statements to writing prompts.
  • Did I address all parts of the prompt?
  • When reading back your thesis, ask yourself a few questions
  • Can I argue against this statement?
  • Will I address all this in my essay?
  • Have you used “you, “ we,” or “us?”
  • Is it clear and understandable?

Prompt #1: Teenage Driving Writing Situation The issue of teens and cars is widely debated. Some people believe that having a car in high school is a necessity. Others believe that cars play too great a role in a teenager’s life. Directions for Writing Write an article for your school newspaper discussing the advantages and/or disadvantages of high school students having cars. Include reasons, examples, or evidence to support your opinion.

  • Yes No

Prompt #2: Free Education Writing Situation Historically, Americans have shown how much they value education by providing free education for all students from kindergarten through high school. Many Americans now believe that education should be extended to include free or low cost college or vocational training after high school. Do you believe that some form of education should be provided to high school graduates at no cost or at a low cost? Directions for Writing Write a letter to your legislator clearly expressing your position on the issue of free or low cost education or training for high school graduates. Convince the legislator to support or oppose free or low cost education.

  • Yes No

Prompt #3: Team Work Writing Situation The business world has adopted the idea of cooperation and team work to increase productivity and solve problems. The belief is that teams can accomplish more than one person alone. Your English teacher has announced that your class might do major projects working in teams. If you had a choice, would you choose to work as a team or to work alone? Directions for Writing Write a letter to your teacher convincing him or her that students should or should not work in teams. Include reasons and examples in support of your position.

  • Yes No

Prompt #4: Dropping out Writing Situation Two of your high school friends are thinking about dropping out of school. They are juniors, and they tell you they are tired of books, rules, and useless classes. They want to get full-time jobs, so they can buy a car, get an apartment, and live the good life. Some students in your class think your friends are doing the right thing while others disagree. What do you think? Directions for Writing Write a letter to your friends explaining why you support or oppose their decision to leave school. Include reasons and evidence for your opinion.

  • Yes No

Prompt #5: After-school Job Writing Situation When your grades began to fall, your parents said that you would have to quit your part-time job. Because you must make your own car payments, this decision means that you will not be able to keep your car. You are concerned that you will get upset if you try to talk to your parents. Instead, you decide to write them. Directions for Writing Write your parents a letter in which you try to convince them that you should be given another chance to improve your grades without giving up your job and car. Make your argument clear, complete, and convincing.

  • Yes No

Prompt #6: Music for teens Writing Situation For generations, critics have complained about the influence music has on young people. Yet music continues to be an important part of a teenager’s life. What music is appropriate for teens? Directions for Writing Write a speech to these critics explaining the type or types of music that you consider appropriate for teens. Present a well-developed argument.

  • Yes No

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