Time to complete: 50 Minutes.
Materials needed: Writing Thesis Statements Handout (attached)
Blank 3 x 5 notecards
- Give students the Writing Thesis Statements Handout the class before you plan to do this
activity and have them complete it for homework. You can create specific topics that are
related to current essay you are working on. The handout provided is related to the first
essay of my Southern Culture class which is a Critical Analysis. Also have them watch
the YouTube Video “Writing Ninja: Writing a Strong Thesis Statement.”
- On the day of the activity, have them get out the thesis worksheet and discuss the
elements of an effective thesis statement.
- Give each student a notecard. Tell them to pick the thesis statement from the worksheet
that they think is best and write it on the notecard. Remind them not to put their name on
- Take up the worksheet.
- Tell them that when the music starts (I played fast banjo music from YouTube, but one
class requested a song, so I played it instead) to stand up and pass their notecard to
another student. Tell them to keep passing, and passing, and passing until the music
stops. When the music stops, they should partner with the person nearest and have a seat
where they are. They do not need to return to their original desk.
- They should read both statements together out loud. Then, they should rank the
statements giving each card a score—the scores should total to 7 points. For example, if
the thesis statements are pretty equal give one a 3 and one a 4 to equal 7. If one is really
good and the other isn’t a thesis statement at all, give the good one a 7 and the other a 0
(totaling 7 points). Other options are 6 and 1 or 5 and 2 (I write the scoring options on the
- Tell them to score the statements and put the score on the back.
- Repeat passing and scoring two more times.
- After the last scoring, ask the students to total the points on the card they end up with.
Ask if anyone has 21 points? Then count down. Put the top three thesis statements on the
board. Talk about what makes them effective. Ask who they belong to and give them
recognition if they want to claim their statement.
Practice Writing Thesis Statements
Remember, a thesis statement tells the reader what your essay will be about while providing three
reasons to support your main idea.
Look at the following topics and their example thesis statements:
a) Topic—Society and Class in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Thesis—The Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” demonstrates a particular social
class of the South. She associates being from the upper-class through superficial elements such
as who one descends from, how one speaks and acts, and how one dresses.
For the following topic, come up with a thesis statement of your own. Make sure the thesis statement
states the main idea and has three reasons to support the topic.
1. Topic—The importance of Family in Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl
2. Topic— The portrayal of slaver in Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl
3. Topic— Racial stereotypes in Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl
4. Topic—Significance of the setting in ““The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
5. Topic— Character analysis of Smiley in “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
6. Topic—The importance of animals in “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”