Working Thesis Statements

Today students got back into the History Fair grind by crafting Thesis statements. These are far from perfect, and certainly not final, but a first shot at writing something specific and concrete to guide our research. We’ll revise them in 2 weeks after our first stage of research. Teaching Thesis writing was always difficult, but I’m trying a new method derived from an NHD course I took this summer. Essentially, there are four components we’re looking for:

  1. Clearly state your topic.
  2. Define the time this took place (parameters) using years or a famous point of reference.
  3. Connect it to the theme (Taking a Stand in History) – Stand, Stood, etc. should be used.
  4. Something which could be argued. (this part is more difficult and takes time to develop enough background knowledge to “think backward” and understand opposing viewpoints.)

This method comes from Lynne O’Hara and her NHD course. Here’s an example from that course (albeit with an older theme):


Some students found this slide so helpful that they even color-coded it as illustrated, something I was reserving for peer-reviewing later in the month. Regardless, it’s a great tool to help students craft their thesis statement, a component of early analysis my ELA teachers and I have struggled with. This makes it more concrete and we’re already seeing some good early examples:


And of course, no method can make thesis writing palatable to even the most talented of junior high students:


Working Thesis Statements should be done by Wednesday morning.