Thesis Statement Writing Games For Middle School

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.

Every English teacher has experienced the frustration of introducing a writing skill, like how to write a thesis statement, over and over again without it “sticking.”

Three years ago, I began “flipping” my writing instruction, so students watch videos on my YouTube channel, take Cornell notes, then come prepared to class to do the actual writing. I love this approach to teaching writing! Students can watch my explanations as many times as they need to over the course of the year. Plus, I get to support them as they write in class. (See my post on synchronous editing).

Alas, there are always students who need more practice. That said, I can only read so many essays in a year. Instead of feeling frustrated, I decided to design a fun activity to practice writing thesis statements. This is how thesis statement throwdown was born!

Thesis throwdown is a quirky combination of group collaboration, writing practice, funky music, and competition. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Write an essay prompt on the board. I vary my questions between informative and argumentative topics. KQED’s Do Now series is an excellent place to grab writing prompts!

Step 2: Put students into small groups and give them 5 minutes to construct a solid thesis statement in response to the essay question. The conversations that take place are incredible!

Step 3: Randomly select two groups to compete. I don’t tell them ahead of time who will compete in the actual throwdown because I want everyone to give it 100%.

Step 4: As each group writes their thesis statements on separate whiteboard, I play a fun but slightly random song. Our thesis throwdown music list has ranged from “Everybody Dance Now” to “Eye of the Tiger.” My philosophy is that the music keeps everyone interested and entertained while the two groups write their thesis statements on the board.

Step 5: Once both thesis statements are written on the board, I turn off the music and set to work! I edit each thesis statement and “think out loud” as I work, so students can hear what I am responding to in a positive way–strong vocabulary, parallel language, and clearly stated assertion–and what needs to be added, removed or edited. The more I let them into my process as an editor, the more likely they are to successfully edit their own work.

Finally, a winner is declared!

The entire activity takes 10 minutes from beginning to end. It’s hard to believe a writing activity can be so much fun, but this is really entertaining if you add the music and just have fun with it.

In the two weeks we’ve done thesis statement throwdown, I am shocked by the improvement in the quality of the thesis statements. It’s worth a try if you are feeling like your students just aren’t delivering quality thesis statements. After all, the thesis is the most important sentence of an essay. We want students to leave our classes confident crafting a strong thesis statement!

 

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