Your Thesis Statement:
The Only Sentence Worth More
Than A Thousand Words
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How to Navigate Through a
PowerPoint Workshop
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information, only use your mouse at this prompt:
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Setting the ToneYour Introduction Paragraph
Think of your introduction paragraph like a funnel.
First, grab you readers attention with a general statement about your topic .
Then, give your reader a brief explanation (2-5 sentences) of what you will be
explaining about your topic.
End your introduction with a strong statement/claim that tells your reader what you intend
to prove to them about your topic.
Attention Grabbing
Opening
Today’s
Focus-Your
THESIS
Thesis
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Thesis Statements Are Not
As Hard As You May Think…
First, let’s look at
what a Thesis Statement
is NOT!
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What a Thesis Statement is Not:
Your Thesis Statement is NOT Your Topic!
Your topic tells your reader
what you are talking about.
For Example:
I will explain fishing, bullfighting,
and boxing as symbols of
manhood in Hemingway’s The
Son Also Rises.
This is not a thesis, it is only A
Topic.
Your thesis tells your
reader your position on
your topic. For Example:
Fishing, bullfighting, and
boxing give Hemingway’s
characters in The Son Also
Rises a physical skill with which
to measure their manhood.
This is a Successful
Thesis Statement
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What a Thesis Statement is Not:
You Thesis Statement is NOT A Fact About Your Topic!
Surprisingly, your thesis
should be an arguable
OPINION - NOT A FACT!
You spend the rest of
your paper
CONVINCING your
reader of why YOUR
OPINION is TRUE!
WHY?
Because that is what
makes your paper
interesting to your
reader!
Your thesis should
always be a statement
that demands PROOF!
If not, what will you
do for the next 2-10
pages???
Your Thesis
Should Take A
STAND!
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Your thesis prepares your
reader for the facts that
will prove your opinion
about your topic to be trueit can not be a fact itself.
What a Thesis Statement is Not:
You Thesis Statement is NOT A Fact About Your Topic!
Let’s Look At An Example
Now, that
is a
strong
thesis!
That is a
fact, not a
strong
thesis!
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What a Thesis Statement is…
It is the sentence that answers your
readers
biggest
question:
By telling your reader
your point
in the first
paragraph, you set the tone
and make sure they are not frustrated and confused
for the rest of your essay.
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What a Thesis Statement is…
Which of the following is TRUE about your THESIS
STATEMENT?
It Tells your Reader Your Topic
It Tells the Reader a Fact About Your Topic
It Tells the reader your Point
Now That You Know What A Thesis Statement Is,
Let’s Look At What Makes A Strong Thesis Statement…
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
1. It should not be
TOO BROAD!
Let’s
at each(3)
of
Therelook
Are Three
these
requirements
Requirements
ForaAbit
closer…
Strong
Thesis
Statement.
2. It should not be
TOO NARROW!
3. It should not be
TOO VAGUE!
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Too Broad!
You may find
yourself
drowning in
information,
unable to prove your
point!
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Too Broad!
Arthur
Miller
suggests
that
true
In
The
Crucible
, Arthur
Miller
uses
John
Proctor’s
Let’s
Look
At
An
Example
goodness
virtue
are isoften
character
to show and
that true
goodness
often distorted
distorted
by appearance
and
deceit.
by
societal expectations
that do not
allow
for human
frailties.
That would
definitely
leave you
drowning:
Much Better!
That definitely is
an opinion
narrow enough to
be proven in a
research paper!
TOO
BROAD!
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Too Narrow Either!
You may find
yourself
trying to stretch the
small amount of
information that you
find to fit your
essay!
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Too Narrow!
Lord
of
Rings,
In
Lord
TheExample
Let’s InLook
AttheofAn
Though this may
be interesting, it
would take some
tugging to
stretch it into an
entire essay!
the
the Rings,
author carefully
sward
given
chose
a weapon
for to
each
Frodo
by
his
character
that was
uncle
symbolic,
and revealed
represents
the
something
them
passingabout
down
ofto athelegacy.
reader.
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That looks like a
thesis statement we
wouldn’t have to
stretch for!
Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Vague!
You may find
your
reader
dazed and
confused!
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Requirements For a Strong Thesis:
A Strong Thesis Should Not Be Vague
Let’s Look At An Example
The word
HORRIBLE is
hard to define! It
makes this thesis
Too VAGUE!
If the United States were
to get
rid of welfare,
Getting
rid it
would
of welfare
aggravatein
an
thesevere
United
already
homeless
States
a in
problem,
cause is
a rise
horrible
idea.the
crime,
and remove
only safety net that our
country has in place.
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To Fix It
Define the term
“horrible idea” for your
reader. Outlining the
major points of your
essay would also help.
Where To Start
Start Off With Your Topic!
-It may be a general topic such as teenage suicide.
– Or something more specific like
• The role that biological age played in Romeo and Juliet or
• How Hemingway’s life influenced his writing
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Make a list of potential topics.
• After reading your novel, a topic may
just jump out at you, or you may have
recognized a pattern or identified a
problem that you’d like to think about in
more detail.
A Pattern
• A pattern can be the recurrence of
certain kinds of imagery or events.
Usually, repetitions of particular aspects
of a story (similar events in the plot,
similar description, even repetitions in
particular words) tend to make those
elements more conspicuous.
For example
• Let’s say I’m writing a paper on Mary Shelley’s novel
Frankenstein. While reading the book, I kept noticing the author’s
use of Biblical imagery: Victor Frankenstein anticipates that “a
new species would bless me as its creator and source” (52) while
the monster is not sure whether to consider himself as an Adam or
a Satan. These details might help me interpret the way characters
think about themselves and about each other, as well as allow me
to infer what the author might have wanted her reader to think by
using the Bible as a frame of reference.
• On another subject, I notice that the book repeatedly makes
reference to types of education. The book routinely makes
reference to books that its characters read and the different
contexts in which learning takes place. I have to wonder what the
author is trying to say about the importance of education or about
the influence of reading on education.
A Problem
• A problem is something in the story that bugs you or
that doesn’t seem to add up. A character might act in
some way that’s unaccountable, a narrator may leave
out what we think is important information (or may
focus on something that seems trivial), or a narrator or
character offer an explanation for something that
doesn’t seem to make sense to us. Not all problems that
we have with a story lead in interesting directions, but
some definitely do and even seem to be important parts
of the story.
For example
• In Frankenstein, Victor works day and night to
achieve his goal of bringing life to the dead, but
once he realizes his goal, he is immediately
repulsed by his creation and runs away. Why?
Is there something wrong with his creation,
something wrong with his goal in the first
place, or something wrong with Victor himself?
The novel doesn’t give us a clear answer, but
seems to invite us to interpret this problem.
Where To Start
Before trying to decide on a thesis, gather all of the
information available on your topic!
Why?
1.
How can you have an educated opinion about something that you know little
about?
o
The more that you know about your topic, the easier it will be to form a
provable opinion (thesis) about it.
2.
It is easier to write a thesis statement that explains what you have found in your
research, than to find research that explains what you have written in your thesis!
3.
You want the opinion that your thesis states to be provable by facts that you have
gathered. If you gather the facts first, you KNOW that it can be proven!
REMEMBER: Your Thesis and Your Topic are NOT the same.
You must choose your topic before beginning your research.
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Where To Start
Depending on your topic, the research that you do will be different.
Teenage suicide
The role that
biological age played
in Romeo and Juliet
How Hemingway’s
life influenced his
writing.
Research information about teenage
suicide in general. This information
will be integrated with what experts
have said on the topic of suicide in
Romeo and Juliet.
Use the Internet or texts from the
library to discover what experts
have said on the topic.
Though your primary goal will be to discover
how his life influenced his writing of the novel
you have chosen, you will also want to blend
in expert commentaries on his other writings
as well. You will also use biographical
information as it relates to his writing.
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Where To Start
Once you have gathered your information,
Ask Yourself a Few Questions:
What is the
most
important
thought that I
have about my
topic?
What has
my research
What
will
be the
shown me about my
point oftopic?
my paper?
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What would
my reader
want to know
about my
topic?
Before You Write Your Thesis…
First Write
A WORKING
THESIS
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A Working Thesis
A Working Thesis is Made Up of Two Parts:
AND
For Example:
A faulty Education fueled Victor Frankenstein’s tragic
ambition to play God with human life.
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Refining Your Working Thesis
To turn your Working Thesis into a Final Thesis Statement,
compare it to the requirements for a strong thesis statement:
1. Is it TOO BROAD?
2. IsThesis
it TOOneeds
NARROW?
This Working
to be made more
specific.
3. Is it TOO VAGUE?
It is too BROAD!
A faulty education fueled Victor Frankenstein’s
tragic ambition to play God with human life.
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Refining Your Working Thesis
The desire for knowledge fueled Victor Frankenstein’s
tragic ambition to play God with human life.
Possible Revisions To Make The Broad Statement More Specific:
A.
The pursuit of knowledge beyond accepted human limits fueled Victor
Frankenstein’s tragic ambition to play God with human life.
This is more manageable because it has been narrowed to knowledge beyond
accepted human limits—knowing how to do something (create life) that humans
reserve for a supreme being and is, therefore, unacceptable behavior for the ordinary
person.
B.
The pursuit of knowledge beyond accepted human limits destroys Victor
Frankenstein by alienating him from the very humans he seeks to create.
This is even better because his tragedy is spelled out. Alienation from human contact
destroys him. This can be more easily proven in a high school research paper.
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So…How Do You Write A
Thesis Statement?
1.
Start off with your TOPIC!
2.
Before trying to decide on a thesis, gather all of the
information available on your topic!
3.
Once you have gathered your information, Ask
Yourself a Few Questions:
•
What is the most important thought that I have about
my topic?
•
What has my research shown me about my topic?
•
What would my reader want to know about my topic?
•
What will be the POINT of my paper?
4.
Use your answers to write a Working Thesis.
5.
Turn your Working Thesis into a Final Thesis
Statement by comparing it to the requirements for a
strong thesis statement:
Is it too broad?
Is it too narrow?
Is it too vague?
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