Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Formula for Making a Thesis Statement

Recently, a friend posted on Facebook her frustrations of students writing their thesis statements incorrectly. I have seen students struggle with this in every English Composition class I've taught. Eventually, with the help of a really great Internet post (that I am no longer able to find) I was able to come up with what I call a "Mathematical Formula" for composing a thesis statement.

The definitions and examples are from the Internet sample that I found years ago. Basically, I am not able to cite my source on this since I am unable to provide the link. (I suppose this is a great example of Plagiarism!)




Here is how I break down the lesson:

There are 3 elements of a thesis statement

1. Qualification
2. Why your thesis is valid
3. Your exact position

Steps:

1. Your Topic: What is the general category your essay is about. (For this example we will use School.)

2.  Your Position: What is the one thing about your topic that you believe to be TRUE? If you don't have a specific opinion yet, then map out your topic. (This example: Schools have too many people in them.)

3.  The Qualification: 
     A. Is what you say always true?
     B. Are there exceptions?
     C. Are there good reasons your position will have a downside?
     D. What reasons would your position have any problems and can you admit them up front?
     (Example: Although schools of over a thousand students have flourished in America......")

4.  The Reason: Why do you think your position is correct in spite of your qualification? What is the good to be gained by your position? (Example: Small school populations lend themselves to building a good community of learners.)

5.  Put them together:
     Use this order - Qualification + Reason + Position  
     3+4+2 = Thesis
     (Example - Although schools of over a thousand students have flourished in America, small school populations lend themselves to building a good community of learners, and therefore we should consider limiting school populations to a hundred.) 


I take my time with this assignment, using an entire class to explain it and work with examples from students.  I have students take turns at the board using ridiculous and funny examples. I hope this helps....and of course, if anyone finds the original link, I would love to give them the credit for this work!!!


4 comments:

  1. I LOVE this! I also love that you used the label "plagiarism" for this entry, because as we learned back at UA, if a student has to pre-write in stages inside and outside of class, s/he is less likely to rip off an entire paper from FriendlyJim.com or Duenow.com.

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  2. An essay can do this in many different ways such as exploring a topic in depth, construct a clear and strong argument. A persuasive essay on the purpose and structure of essays will be written from scratch, so you do not have to worry about its originality.

    Thesis Help

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  3. This sounds like it only works for a persuasive essay though. What if it was an informative essay that used personal opinions, and didn't have an opposing argument?

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  4. Good share, you topic is very great and useful for us…thank you. I just like the approach you took with this subject. It isn’t every day that you discover something so concise and enlightening.

    ReplyDelete