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8th Grade Research Paper Thesis Statement

Students have had experience with working with thesis statements. That is nothing new. Today's lesson focuses on reviewing a thesis statement as a way to focus their thinking for their research paper. While direct instruction is not my usual teaching method, with a lesson like this, direct instruction is needed as a way to focus students' thinking for a major writing assignment. I choose direct instruction for this lesson because, even though they have done work with thesis statements before, they have not spent time working with thesis statements for research papers. I really want students to understand what a thesis statement is for a research paper and not a typical essay as they have done in the past. 

On the Smartboard I pull up the Research Booklet that students use throughout the entire process of writing the research paper. Today's lesson focus on introducing and explaining phase one: thesis statement and proposal (found on page two and three of the booklet). 

I then hand out index cards to each student. They are to write down any questions they may have as I explain this step of the project. These questions we will review at the end of class. This helps me get through the information as it can wordy and also forces students to focus. I notice that when I explain a step of a project through direct instruction there are always a lot of questions. Eighth graders lose focus rather easily at times or want their questions answered right away. Using these index cards helps them, and me, to continue with the information in a direct way without veering off path.

With the booklet on my web-site, I read the information to the class. Students follow along as I read each section of this phase. The sections focus on the following:

  • 1. Creating a thesis statement
  • 2. Drafting a paragraph thesis proposal
  • 2. Working on a thesis proposal worksheet

Students have created a thesis statement before so that section serves as a review. The thesis proposal has students create a paragraph in which they introduce what they will do as a researcher. It is not an introduction to a paper. This helps them to focus their thinking for when they continue to research and find information. When students have to research they can get so overwhelmed and do not know where to begin. Having them create a thesis proposal becomes like a plan of action for them so they process of research is more manageable for them.

This thesis proposal includes different aspects that will give them a way into researching. They will include their initial thesis statement, questions they would like to research about their topic, and their role and purpose as a researcher. It will also include initial sources.

I then review the Thesis Proposal Worksheet with them so they can see the structure and format of the worksheet they will need to hand in. This worksheet serves as a place for them to put this work in one place. They will hand this in for approval. I collect this so I know what students plan on doing and can therefore redirect them or push them in a certain direction if needed.

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?"

"Nope."

"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.