A thesis statement can be: • The answer to a question that you have posed • The solution for a problem you have identified • A statement that takes a position on a debatable topic Source: _A Writer's Reference_ by Diana Hacker
General Tips about Thesis Statements • A statement that contains the essay’s topic, controlling claim (opinion) and DIRECTION - point/supporting claim(s) • Gives the reader a sense of what the essay will be about • Usually comes at the end of the introduction • Most thesis statements are only one sentence • Must be a complete sentence • Everything in the essay must support the thesis. • Introduction paragraph should follow this format: • Attention getter (commonly known as a “hook”) • Introduce the topic (Bridge) • State the thesis
What are the Roles of a Thesis? 1. It can assert an argument, explain a topic, and/or analyze an issue. 2. It is specific in presenting the writer's position. 3. It limits both scope and topic of the paper. 4. It captures the reader's interest and focuses that interest on the topic.
What is the thesis “formula”? • Thesis = Topic + Claim • Identification of Topic(What is your essay about) + • ACTIVE VERB introducing the controlling claim (What you believe about topic) + Direction (Supporting Claims – Reasons you believe your claim is true) • Active Verbs that Get Us Analyzing: • Conveys • Represents • Demonstrates • Suggests • Insinuates • Portrays • Results in • Supposes • Proves • Indicates • Shows
Kinds of Thesis Statements: Argumentative* • An argumentative paper makes a claim based on opinion, evaluation, or interpretation about a topic and proves this claim with specific evidence. • Argumentative thesis example: High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness. *If you have been asked to argue a point or choose a side on an issue, this is likely the type of thesis you will use. Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu
Kinds of Thesis Statements: Analytical* • An analytical paper breaks the topic down into parts, examines each part, and determines how each part relates to the whole topic. • Analytical thesisexample: An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds. *If you have been asked to analyze a topic, issue, or reading, this is the type of thesis you should use. *Typically, you will use this style of thesis in English 1A and transfer level courses. Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu
Kinds of Thesis Statements: Explanatory* • An explanatory paper explains something to the audience. • Explanatory thesis example: The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers. *If you have been asked to narrate a story or explain a process, this is likely the type of thesis you will use. Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu
Contains essay’s topic, claim, and three supporting reasons Example: “To reduce the number of highway fatalities [topic and point], our country needs [purpose=argumentative] to enforce the national law that designates twenty-one as the legal minimum age to drink, set up check points on major holidays, and take away licenses from convicted drunk drivers [three reasons].” Ways of Constructing Thesis Statements: The List (Essay Map)
Ways of Constructing Thesis Statements:The Umbrella • Contains essay’s topic, point, and alludes to reasons why the reader should believe you. • Do not directly state the supporting reasons, but instead allude to them. • Example: “Although thought to be humane and necessary, animal testing [topic] for medical and cosmetic purposes does not live up to its promises [point and reasons].” • Do NOT use language like, “There are many reasons people don’t like chocolate ice cream.”
Outlawed • Announce your thesis:“In this essay, I am going to tell you about Mt. SAC college and why you should go there.” (Side note: Some instructors may encourage this type of statement, and always do what your instructor suggests) • Confuse your reader: Just make sure that the topic and point are clear. • Cannot be a fact: Does not allow you to prove anything because it’s already factual. • Don’t be vague: Words like “good,”“bad,”“right,” and “wrong,” do not convey specific meaning. • Cannot be a question:“Don’t you think animal testing is inhumane?” • Does not give the point of the paper. • Leaves it open for readers to fill in the blank.
Creating a Thesis Statement 1. Determine essay’s topic (what you’re talking about) Example: Pixar’s film Up 2. Determine what kind of paper you are writing and what kind of thesis statement you need to use: analytical, argumentative, or explanatory. Example: Argumentative=It is not really a “kid” movie. 3. Determine the way you will construct your thesis: list or umbrella? 4. Put it all together! Example: Pixar’s most recent film, Up, should not be considered a “kid” movie because its character’s conflicts and main theme of loss are too complex for children to understand.
Activity: Create Thesis Statements • Based on the topic below, create an umbrella and list thesis statement • Make sure to include the topic, point, and possibly reason(s) in each of the statements. • Topic: Being a successful BDCHS student • Be prepared to share!
Possible Thesis Statements • List: “Though BDCHS may offer rigorous courses, each student can be successful [topic+point] as long as they study, receive tutoring, and meet with their instructors [reasons].” • Umbrella: “BDCHS can be a challenging school, but all students can be successful [topic+point].”
Practice #1 TOPIC: body piercing BAD: Body piercing is popular among kids nowadays. BETTER: Body piercing among contemporary youth represents the latest form of rebelling against authority that previous generations manifested in smoking, getting tattoos, and wearing mini-skirts.
Practice #2 TOPIC: female musicians BAD: Female musicians are getting more popular. BETTER: During the past five years, musical artists like Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morisette, and Jewel have solidified a place for women's music on the top ten charts.
Practice #3 TOPIC: news coverage of military action BAD: News coverage of military actions undermines their seriousness. BETTER: By featuring highlights of air strikes and peace-keeping missions on the news, television producers reduce them to the status of popular entertainment and undermine the audience's appreciation of the seriousness of military actions.
Final Hints • Always check your conclusion with your thesis statement to make sure that your essay really ended up where you said it would go. • Always remember to integrate your thesis with the prose surrounding it. One typical error made by writers is that they spend a lot of time polishing their thesis and then simply insert it into a paragraph that has seen substantially less revision. Not only does the quality of the prose set the thesis off from the surrounding text, but it quite possibly may not flow with the overall development of the paragraph. You may even find that you need to alter your thesis statement (tone it down; break it into a couple sentences; reword it slightly for better transition) in order to incorporate it smoothly into your paragraph.
Writing Prompt • Situation: Technology has become more widespread and influential every year since its inception. • Think about: But just what is this influence, and how has it affected teenagers? Has it made education, commerce and communication better, or has it opened a Pandora’s box that will be difficult for teens, parents, schools, and even the legal system to control?