Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
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:
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.
Since there are many questions throughout the process of writing a research paper, I try to give as much time for questions as possible. Since this is considered an independent study (students will spend most of the time outside of class working on this project), I try and answer questions as much as I can so students understand what is expected of them and are able to complete each step as they do them on their own. It can be huge transition for students to do so much independent work but I find that it's the most beneficial. When students, especially teenagers, are given the independence, they are more engaged in the process.
For this section of the lesson, I collect the notecards that I handed out earlier. I read each question out loud and answer it. These questions are questions based on the section we discussed earlier in the lesson. Some students have questions about other parts of the paper.
This strategy helps me to see what areas may need further focus. If a lot of students are asking similar questions perhaps I need to review in-depth again or give students more time on that part of the thesis proposal. I find this very helpful because if students know that there is a certain time devoted to questions, they will make sure they ask their questions at the right time.
This includes some of the major questions asked from today's lesson: Questions From Thesis Proposal Lesson
This video explains how I would answer certain questions and what those questions tell me: Questions From Thesis Proposal Explanation