Helping Students Write a Thesis Sentence
We may all have had the experience of being asked by a teacher, "what is your thesis?" or "what is your thesis sentence?" or being asked by students, "what do you mean by a thesis sentence?" The following section may serve as a help in answering that question.
Generally a thesis sentence is presented to the reader at the beginning of multi-paragraph themes. [In single paragraphs the sentence may be termed a topic sentence.] In teaching multi-paragraph theme writing I have found it optimum to have students write three part thesis sentences for basic five paragraph papers. These themes contain  an introduction with a three part thesis sentence,  a body containing one paragraph for each part of the sentence, and  a conclusion, which restates the thesis and summarizes the main body.
Sample thesis sentences using classroom objects can be given by the teacher, or the students to show how the sentence may be written. For instance, one may say, "Staplers can be used for fastening papers together, for fastening papers to the wall, or they can be used as paperweights."
An organized five part theme would then have an introductory paragraph that contained some preliminary material and end with the thesis sentence: "Staplers can be used for fastening papers together, for fastening papers to the wall, or they can be used as paperweights."
The first paragraph in the "main body" would begin with the sentence, "Staplers can be used for fastening papers together" and then proceed with examples to support this part of the thesis. The second paragraph would begin with, "Staplers can be used to fasten papers to the wall" and again proceed with examples to support this part of the thesis. The third and last paragraph in the main body of the paper would begin with, "Staplers can be used as paper weights," etc.
The conclusion would begin with, "Staplers can be used for fastening papers together, for fastening papers to the wall, or they can be used as paperweights in situations such as student work, teacher bulletins, and holding down assignments. Note that the fifth paragraph and its restated thesis sentence also contains a summary of the main points, or the notable points, made in the main body, [in the Same order as given in the thesis sentence and in the main body.]
After students gain the ability to write five paragraph papers organized around a thesis sentence, they can, according to their capacity, write longer research papers utilizing the same skills. The process is the same, but the sentences are longer and more complex and so are the resulting papers. The organization of each paper still tightly follows the pattern set in the thesis sentence, and in longer papers, there may be multiple thesis sentences presenting the overall thesis.
A more complex, multi-sentence thesis may follow a pattern such as:
1. Water should be conserved by all because of ______, ______, _______, and ______ when conditions such as ______ and _____ are present. Water does not need to be conserved because of ______, _______, and _____ when conditions such as _______ and _____ are present.
2. Genghis Khan invaded ______, ______, and ______ because of _______, and _____. He did this by doing _____, ______, and _____, and by so doing he accomplished _______, ______, and ______.
3. Proper teaching methods include _______, _______, _______, and _____ under conditions such as ______, ______, and _____. However they are less effective when _______, _______, and ______ are present. These conditions can be modified by ______ and _______.
4. Groups are very important to _____, _____, _____, and ______. Effective groups can be created by _______, ______, _______, and ______ and these conditions occur when such techniques as _______, ________, ______, and ______ are utilized. Groups lose effectiveness because of such things as ______ and ______ which cause ______, ______ and _______.
[Note: The number of blanks given in each example is totally arbitrary.]
Note also that the phrase "such as" and other qualifying phrases can be used in longer preliminary thesis sentences to avoid creating an organization so tight that students can not expand or contract their papers as conditions such as adequate resources affect each section of the paper.
When students are struggling with creating thesis sentences for longer papers, such patterns as those above can help them visualize the creation of their own sentences. Teachers may want to help students by assisting them in writing such framework sentences to be "filled in" by the students as they research their topics.
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