If you're searching for How to Identify Effective Thesis Statements for Student Essays to help with your children's homework, to use as a website resource for your classroom, or to use in your lesson plan for your students, the information below can help.
Middle and high school students alike often find developing a thesis statement to be a daunting task. Before students should be expected to write their own, they should first understand the purpose of a thesis statement and then view a variety of thesis statements which illustrate the necessary characteristics.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is usually located in the introduction paragraph and presents an arguable claim to the reader. It explains the purpose of an essay, research paper, or other body of writing and can be considered a road map for readers. Because it is a road map, the statement should stick to the essay’s topic and be neither too broad nor too narrow.
While the statement may be a terse overview of the content to come, effective thesis statements should identify the key points discussed in the essay so that readers can anticipate the content—and determine if they want to continue reading. Students must understand the function of a thesis statement before attempting to write their own. This activity will help students on their way.
Thesis Statement Identification Activity
Here is a simple activity students can complete by working in pairs. Students will be given a list of ten potential thesis statements in response to the essay topic, describe a favorite vacation and explain why it is considered a favorite. First, one student should read a sample thesis statement from the list below. The partner will then need to determine if the statement is strong, too broad, too narrow or off topic. These sample thesis statements can be written on individual index cards and shuffled before students begin the activity.
Examples of thesis statements that are too broad include the following:
- My favorite vacation is the one I went on with my friends.
- Everyone loves to go on vacation!
The following thesis statements are off topic because they clearly do not address the writer’s favorite vacation:
- Who wouldn’t love a safari trip in Africa for their vacation?
- Thai restaurants are my favorite place to eat on a Saturday night.
- My sister went on an amazing trip to India during her senior year of college.
The statements above are weak for several reasons. Statements that are too broad may address the general topic, but they do not provide insight to the specific essay. Statements that are too narrow focus on a specific detail which may be explored in one paragraph but does encompass the entire essay. Statements that are off topic are usually easy to spot; however, writers sometimes don’t realize when they have veered from their purpose so it is important for them to recognize this type of flaw.
Identify an Effective Thesis Statement
The following thesis statements are strong because they make an arguable claim and outline the key points of the essay:
- Skydiving in Hawaii is my favorite vacation because it gives me an adrenaline rush, lets me release my aggression, and helps me develop new skills.
- I love to go sailing for vacation because I enjoy removing myself from daily life, becoming one with nature, and improving my sailing skills on the open sea.
Once students complete the paired activity, the teacher should review the correct answers and discuss why certain thesis statements are effective and why others are ineffective. The teacher can point out the strongest statements presented a claim that could be argued by the writer; in addition, they are longer and more detailed than their counterparts. However, the strong thesis statements clearly stick to the topic, explaining the writer’s favorite vacation and why.
This is a fun, simple activity that allows students to work together and encourages dialog about writing strong thesis statements. As a culminating part of this activity, students should write their own thesis statements; then, they can trade with their partners and discuss. By viewing a variety of thesis statements, students learn which characteristics to include and which to avoid. Once they feel comfortable with their thesis statement, they will be ready to embark on writing the essay.
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