Students are coming into class today with an open response they wrote independently for homework(Check out our brainstorming work). They had two nights to write them (English is their drop period on Tuesdays), but I'm sure many saved it all for late last night, which means that the writing probably need a lot of work. I will start class today with that assumption and ask how many students are proud to hand in their work, proud being the optimal word. I'm not asking who wants to hand it in, just to hand it in, but who wants me to read it because they put effort into it. I know that a few will be, which is wonderful, but many will recognize they could have done more.
To highlight how important it is to be proud of our work, I am going to ask every student to underling their thesis on their paper and then write it on the board (W.9-10.2a). The initial response to this announcement it usually mixed: on the one hand, students love to write on the white board, but on the other hand, they hate to write their own work. Some students will go right to the board without problem, others will want to show me their work first to make sure that they are writing the "right" sentence, etc. I speed much of this time helping these students. This actually works out well because it staggers the number of people at the board at once. It takes about 10-15 for every student to write their sentences, so there might be a few moments of down time, as students wait to write or while they wait for others to finish writing.
The rest of class will be spent analyzing and improving our thesis statements (W.9-10.5), which of course will improve the essay overall. Here is an explanation of the process.
But what actually makes a thesis statement a thesis statement? First we break down the question: what does the thesis have to say/explain in order to fully answer this question? It needs to name how Pip has changed-- not just that he changed-- and what/who caused the change. Then we read through each thesis on the board, asking if it does both of those things. We also try to improve the statements, asking how we can add the necessary information. I remind students that it can be helpful to pretend they only have a sentence or two to completing answer the question. That's your thesis. The rest of the essay proves said thesis.
Students have a few moments to make changes to their thesis statements before the end of class, but ultimately I want their improvements to extend beyond the thesis to the whole essay. Therefore I will ask the students if they want another night to work on their essays, even though I already know that they will want the extra time.