Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by engl78, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. engl78

    engl78 Rookie

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    Nov 9, 2008

    Hi teachers,

    I am teaching my freshman how to write thesis statements and topic sentences, and I need an easy, consise method for doing so. They really struggle with writing so I want to make this as easy an introduction as possible. Ideas?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 9, 2008

    Here's one approach: A really strong thesis statement is one you could get into an argument over; it's specific enough that there's evidence to prove it and general enough that the evidence isn't just a matter of opinion. Then the topic sentences are the elements in the proof, so to speak.
     
  4. Geographynut

    Geographynut Rookie

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    Nov 11, 2008

    you could try to give them a formula. This is the one I use:

    X. However, because A,B,C, Y.

    X= contrary evidence, the strongest point against what you are going to prove.
    A,B,C and D,E... if needed = the main points used to prove the point
    Y = the assertion, this is actually what they will prove.

    I always have them make a T-Chart to begin with. pros and cons, for or against, etc.

    It would turn out something like this:

    Prompt: Assess the following statement: Teaching is a wonderful profession and students should consider it for a career choice.

    1. Make a t-chart with pros and cons. 2. Pick a side to prove. 3. Plug the facts from the t-chart into the formula.

    Thesis Statement:

    Teaching is an emotionally satisfying profession. However, because teachers receive low pay, work extra hours without pay, and often take work home with them, clearly shows that teaching would not be a wise career choice.

    I think I learned this at an AP training, it works very well for most questions/prompts, but the students need some practice to get it.
    Hope it helps!
     
  5. DRBenjamin

    DRBenjamin Rookie

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    Nov 24, 2008

    you may laugh . . .

    However, I have a stool. Her name is Bertha. I have another stool named Paris. Bertha has three legs. Hilda has four. Then, I have a broken stool--1.5 legs. I introduce the stools. Then, I present a scenario--there's a pit of snakes, rats, and mice in the middle of the room. You must choose a stool upon which to sit for 20 minutes without falling in on a plank of wood over the pit. Then, I have them present the pros/cons of each stool, decide upon a winner, etc. Then, we talk about thesis statements, what they are, and how they connect to this stool. The seat is our main point or purpose. I present a formula: topic + point of view + purpose + legs = thesis statement. Depending on how many legs (subtopics) is how strong your argument will be. Then, thereafter, I always refer to the parts of their argument as "legs." It may sound stupid, but kids really get it. My college kids even use the "leg" jargon because it makes sense to them.

    Another metaphor I use is the train. I bring in a train set, set it up, and I tell a story about the train. The train is carrying zoo animals to the circus. The trains going along, but then I have the tracks broken at a certain point, so the train derails. I get the train back on, then I have the tracks end suddenly (dead end) before the train gets to the destination. We talk about then, how the train represents their paper and writing. (First car is the introduction--strong, leader, toots for people to be alert; middle cars are the body--even the cars themselves represent evidence, wheels are transitions, etc.; conclusion is the caboose, etc. The tracks are the thesis--has to be strong, consistent throughout, get the passengers from point a to b to c, etc.) Anyway, it may sound childish, but anything visual and gives a connection works for my kids.

    Anyway, just some ideas. Good luck! D. :)
     
  6. Bella_Lahnna

    Bella_Lahnna New Member

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    Dec 15, 2008

    Awesome metaphors! I think I'm going to use that for some of my SPED students, and those that have trouble with their writing. Nice job!
     
  7. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Dec 15, 2008

    I think I am going to use your train metaphor with my 8th graders who are struggling with their writing.
     
  8. DRBenjamin

    DRBenjamin Rookie

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    Dec 16, 2008

    Thanks for the compliments. I just try to get their attention. Good luck! You never know what's going to work. Donna
     
  9. TampaTeacher2Be

    TampaTeacher2Be Comrade

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    Dec 17, 2008


    I like the stool analogy. However if I am not mistaken, a three legged stool is actually more stable than a 4 legged one. :p:p
     
  10. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Dec 17, 2008

    You can also present it in question and answer format. When students pick a topic they need to pick a question that could be argued (with good evidence) from either side. Their thesis is the answer to the question.
     
  11. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Dec 18, 2008

    I teach science and therefore do not go over techniques of writing. However, I loved the stool analogy! I shared it with an English teacher at the school I work at and she loved it! Thanks for sharing!
     
  12. BerniceBobs

    BerniceBobs Comrade

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    Dec 23, 2008

    Dr. B, you are brilliant. Thank you for sharing.
     
  13. KatieC

    KatieC Rookie

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    Dec 24, 2008

    These ideas are great! Thank you so much for sharing. Just another reason I am so thankful for this site!
     

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