Writing a thesis statement middle school
Mar 10, 2018
Learning to write a good thesis statement can make all the difference in how well students write. This lesson offers you some middle school-specific activities for learning to write a thesis statement.
Thesis Statements Matter
Are your middle-school students learning how to write essays or research papers? If so, you are probably interested in helping them organize their work and give voice to their own points of view. One of the best ways you can equip your students to be strong writers is to teach them to write solid thesis statements.
Thesis statements really work as the backbone of students' writing. If your students can master the art of writing a concise, meaningful, and relevant thesis statement in middle school, they will be well equipped to write more complex and nuanced works as they get older. This lesson offers activities that are well suited to middle-school students, who often like to work with peers, think about increasingly abstract concepts, and express strong opinions. These activities will help your middle-school students become experts at writing thesis statements.
Thesis Statement Activities
Critique a Writer
Before your students can write their own thesis statements, they will need plenty of exposure to what both good and bad thesis statements look like. Break your students into small groups and give each group a packet of articles and nonfiction passages. You can find articles on-line or in age-appropriate magazines; try to choose short, high-interest articles. Then, explain to your students that their job is to work with their group to:
- Read each article.
- Locate and underline the thesis statement.
- Say something good about the thesis statement.
- Say something critical about the thesis statement.
Once the groups are finished, bring them together for a discussion about what matters in order to make a thesis statement strong, relevant, and engaging.
What Do You Care About?
This activity will help your students understand that their thesis statement can be a means through which they express strong points of view. Students can work with partners or independently for this activity. Explain to your students that they are not writing whole essays for this activity; instead, they are in charge of writing a list of three to five thesis statements that could hypothetically be developed into essays about topics they care about a lot.
For instance, students could write something like, 'Middle school should start at 10 am instead of 8 am,' or 'The best television show of the year is Pretty Little Liars.' Once each partnership or student has a list of at least three statements, bring them together to share. Facilitate a discussion about how they could use these statements to develop strong essays.
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Match the Thesis to the Essay
This activity will help your students see that thesis statements really set the stage for how an article or essay is organized. Choose three to five articles from high-interest magazines or websites. The articles should be about the same topic or similar topics. Take the thesis statement from each of the articles and copy them onto separate pieces of paper. Break your students into groups and give each group copies of the articles with the thesis statements blacked out or removed. Separately, give them the thesis statements. Have them work in groups to figure out which thesis statement matches up to which article, articulating how they came to their pairings.
Ready, Set, Write
This is another small-group activity that will give your students practice composing succinct and well-structured thesis statements. Have the small groups gather and give each some paper and a pen. One at a time, shout out topics that your students might be asked to write about. For instance, you might name books they have recently read, political figures or issues, or topics from their history or science curriculum.
As a group, groups should then work quickly to develop a hypothetical thesis statement related to the topic you have named. Once each group has something on paper, let them share with each other and talk about what goes into crafting a strong and meaningful thesis statement.
You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. Michael Jordan
A thesis statement is usually one sentence that tells the main point of your piece of writing-research paper, essay, etc.
The thesis statement is then "proven" throughout the paper with supporting evidence.
When learning to write thesis statements, you may be taught to write a three-pronged thesis statement. This is a sentence that includes three reasons to support the thesis.
Example of Three-Pronged Thesis Statements:
1. We should wear school uniforms because they would help reduce discipline, be cheaper than other clothing, and help create school pride.
2. Zoos should be banned because animals need to remain in the wild, zoos cannot provide natural experiences for animals, and animals in zoos get sick and die.
The Thesis Statement Dilemma
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 how to write a thesis statement, so grading their essays was easy. I just gave them all F's. While you guys waste your time teaching valuable lessons and then having to actually grade their essays, we watch movies.""So, none of your students know anything about writing?"
"So, none of your students know anything about writing?"
"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! I suggest you start doing your job 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 now share these ideas with you.