One Big Idea and a lot of Little Ones: Supporting Thesis with Reasons

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SWBAT organize writing using subtitles with supporting reasons.

Big Idea

Students organize their writing using a box and bullet structure.


5 minutes

There are many useful ways to organize an opinion piece to prepare for drafting. One way is to have the big idea or thesis stated with smaller points directly below the thesis that show what reasons the writer will use to support the thesis. 

I remind students of the way they used their hands to list of the main or big idea and the details from nonfiction articles when we were studying nonfiction texts. Students clearly remembered the strategy. I remind them that the palm of our hand was the main idea and our fingers were the details. Now we're going to create text in a similar way. Our main idea will be stated on the paper with a box around it. Underneath the box, we're going to list our reasons that support the thesis. This is the way students will prepare for drafting.

Main Activity

45 minutes

Organizing opinion pieces into sections based on the reasons used to support the thesis is very important and must be done before drafting. Its the ways a writer organizes their writing. However, coming up with reasons are not always an easy thing. 

I model this by writing my thesis down on the paper and putting a box around it. Then I use the thesis to come up with reasons. I want to make sure they are clear and that each one is different than the others. For example, "Bikes are fun". For the reasons, I think, "'Bikes are fun' because..." or "when...". This will help me make sure that reasons actually support the thesis.

I then give students another idea, "Children should exercise more." I then ask students to turn and talk with their partners to come up with reasons that I could use to support my thesis. I even suggest that they use their hands and finger to plan in the same way they did when they studied nonfiction text.

When students return to their independent work to organize their writing, they should think about their reasons, making sure that they are different from one another and clearly support the thesis. One way to do that is by starting the reason with the thesis as I did when I modeled this work.


5 minutes

Finally, after students have developed their thesis and reasons, they share their ideas with a partner. They use their hands and fingers to share how they organized their writing. They can even elaborate, as if they are writing their stories when they share with a partner. 

If I can find an authentic example, I will show how a students organized their writing but then revised their reasons as they determined that they either weren't as clear as they wanted them or weren't different from one another.