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Teaching Thesis Statement Middle School Games

Teaching Thesis Statements Made Easy


Essays without thesis statements are easy to grade: simply write an ‘F’ at the top of the paper, laugh, and shuffle up the next paper. Unfortunately, not teaching thesis statements is the sign of a really bad English teacher.


A Thesis Statement Tale of Woe

On my way out the door, I noticed all the English teachers were busily grading essays. “Hey, Bob,” I shouted as I stumbled into his classroom, “Not done with those essays yet? I finished mine an hour ago.”

“How’d you grade them so fast?” he asked.

“It’s simple,” I responded, “I didn’t teach my students about writing thesis statements, so grading their essays was easy. I just gave them all F’s. While you guys waste your time teaching thesis statements and then having to actually grade their essays, we watch movies.”

“So, none of your students know anything about writing a thesis statement?”

“Nope.”

“You’re a disgrace!” Bob shouted. He moved toward me, stapler in hand.

Next thing I remember, I was surrounded by angry tax-payers. Angry tax-payer #1 shouted, “Get up you thief! Our tax dollars pay your salary and you’re supposed to teach the children of this great state how to write a thesis statement. I suggest you start teaching thesis statements tomorrow morning, or you’ll pay dearly!” The angry tax-payer clubbed me with a ruler and knocked me out again. When I awoke, I saw lesson ideas on my desk titled “Writing a Thesis Statement.”

I share it with you

Common Core Standards

Teaching thesis statements satisfies the following common core standards and establishes the basis for teaching all the common core standards in writing for all grade levels.

  • W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • W.9-10.1a Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • W.9-10.2a  Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings); graphics (e.g., figures, tables); and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Ideas for Teaching Thesis Statements

Teaching thesis statements involves teaching what a thesis statement is and then conducting reinforcement activities. Try the following.  For an excellent description of thesis statements with examples you could use to teach your class, just click on the link.

  1. A quick review of how to write a thesis statement may help.
  2. Have students create thesis statements on a slice of paper. Collect the paper and read them to the class. Have the class vote on them.
  3. Do the same activity, but use individualized white boards to record judgments.
  4. Read thesis statements anonymously. The ones that do not qualify get tossed in the garbage (visualizing what happens to bad thesis statements is powerful). Give students chances to rewrite the thesis statement until they get it right.
  5. Write random topics on the board and have groups of students brainstorm good thesis statements.
  6. Require students get thesis statements approved before writing an essay.

Evaluating Thesis Statements

1. Have you answered the question or merely restated it? The following examples are based on this question: Does Romeo’s prior feelings for Rosaline diminish the credibility of his love for Juliet?

  • Good example: Romeo’s prior feelings for Rosaline diminish the credibility of his love for Juliet.
  • Bad example: This essay examines whether or not Romeo’s prior feelings for Rosaline diminishes his love for Juliet.

2.  Have you tried to argue both sides of the case? It is important to acknowledge the other side and address the other position. That does not, however, excuse you from choosing a side.

  • Good example: Juliet was not the first woman to capture Romeo’s fancy; she was, however, the one who affected him the most.
  • Bad example: Romeo loved Juliet with all his heart, but he loved Rosaline too; It could be argued they were both his favorite.

3.  Have you prejudged the issue by using loaded language? Immature writers manipulate readers through emotionally-charged language.

  • Bad example: Immature, whiny, male-pig Romeo, a male harlot, ruins precious Juliet whom he loved no more than Rosaline.

 

I’ve taken these lesson plans and added notes, graphic organizers, and more lesson options to create what I consider an invaluable resource for middle school and high school teachers. It’s only $5.95.

It includes 10 lesson plans aligned to common core standards, notes, and over 15 assignments with answer keys. All you need to do is print out each assignment, make copies, and pass them out. Here’s a Free Topic Sentence Sample Plan to give you an idea of what the paragraph teaching guide has to offer.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to make your own handouts and assignments that took me weeks to make and years to perfect.

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Please note:

This lesson has color-coded graphics with text, which does not copy. To download the full lesson that can be printed and given to students for practice, please download it from my website. http://www.cracktheisat.com/freesamples.html

CONSTRUCT A THESIS STATEMENT
A thesis statement is like a controller for the Xbox 360� or PlayStation 3�. When you are playing a video game, what would happen if the controller was disconnected from the game console? Your character would probably die and you would lose the game! Well, it's the same thing with your thesis statement. If you don't put a thesis statement in your essay, your essay will die, and you will lose your audience. The key to winning in the game of writing is having a well-built thesis statement. You don't need Bob the Builder� to tell you that!
By looking at the writing prompt, the student can spot the cue word, "describing." This tells him that they want him to write in the expository mode.
Then, he looks for the key words he underlined. The prompt tells him to write an essay about his favorite TV show, which is Spongebob Squarepants.
He thinks about three reasons why Spongebob Squarepants TV show is special to him. He comes up with the following three reasons:
1. Spongebob is always getting into trouble.
2. Squidward hates everybody.
3. Bikini bottom is an exciting place to live.
Finally, he begins his thesis statement using the key words taken directly from the prompt.


Now write your own thesis statement about your favorite TV show. Write in the section, "thesis statement" on your Power-Writer� Template. Make sure to: 1. CAPITALIZE at the beginning of the sentence. 2. CAPITALIZE the name of the TV show and underline it. 3. Place a comma (,) after the first reason and a comma (,) after the second reason. 4. Place a period (.) after the last reason.
GIVE ORDERS TO THE SUPERVISOR, YOUR TOPIC SENTENCE
A topic sentence is like a supervisor, who takes orders from the "Big Boss." In this case, the "Big Boss" is the thesis statement. It is the topic sentence's job to guide the reader through the Body Paragraphs of the essay. Since the thesis statement has three main orders, there needs to be three supervisors, or three topic sentences. Topic sentence #1 is in charge of Body Paragraph One. Topic Sentence #2 is in charge of Body Paragraph Two. Topic Sentence #3 is in charge of Body Paragraph Three.
Remember, the student came up with three reasons why Spongebob Squarepants is his favorite TV show.
1. Spongebob is always getting into trouble.
2. Squidward hates everybody.
3. Bikini bottom is an exciting place to live.
Then, he constructed a thesis statement out of those three reasons.


Now he has to create three topic sentences based on the three reasons he gave in his thesis statement.
1. Topic Sentence #1 goes in Body Paragraph One. Everything written in Body Paragraph One has to be about "Spongebob is always getting into trouble."
2. Topic Sentence #2 goes in Body Paragraph Two. Everything written in Body Paragraph Two has to be about "Squidward hates everybody."
3. Topic Sentence #3 goes in Body paragraph Three. Everything written in Body Paragraph Three has to be about "Bikini Bottom is an exciting place to live."

WRITING YOUR TOPIC SENTENCE #1
At the beginning of your sentence, use the transitional words or phrases: First of all, First, or In the first place
When writing your topic sentence for Body Paragraph One, look at the first reason you wrote in your thesis statement.
1. Spongebob is always getting into trouble.
Use key words from the prompt or thesis statement to write the first part of your topic sentence.
Use the first reason you listed in your thesis state ment.


WRITING YOUR TOPIC SENTENCE #2
At the beginning of your sentence, use the transitional words or phrases: Secondly, Next, or Equally important
When writing your topic sentence for Body Paragraph Two, look at the second reason you wrote in your thesis statement.
2. Squidward hates everybody.
Use key words from the prompt or thesis statement to write the first part of your topic sentence.
Use the second reason you listed in your thesis statement.

WRITING YOUR TOPIC SENTENCE #3
At the beginning of your sentence, use the transitional words or phrases: Lastly or Finally
When writing your topic sentence for Body Paragraph Three, look at the third reason you wrote in your thesis statement.
3. Bikini bottom is an exciting place to live.
Use key words from the prompt or thesis statement to write the first part of your topic sentence.
Use the third reason you listed in your thesis statement.

Now write your own three topic sentences for Body Paragraphs One, Two, and Three. Write in the three sections titled, "Topic Sentence" on your Power-Writer� Template. Make sure to:
1. CAPITALIZE the transitional phrase used at the beginning of the sentence.
2. Use a comma (,) after the transitional phrase.
3. CAPITALIZE the name of the TV show and underline it.
4. Place a period (.) at the end of the sentence.

ABOUT TRANSITIONAL WORDS AND PHRASES
Transitional words and phrases help move your audience through your essay without bumps and bruises. Without them, your sentences will seem choppy and boring. So, use them at the beginning of your sentences to create coherence in your essay. Topic sentences contain transitional phrases so that the reader can move smoothly through each Body Paragraph. Use a comma after each one.

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