Friday, October 13, 2006

Another use for blogs--analysis of thesis

Today I am revisiting thesis statements with my seniors. I was sharing information I learned at an AP conference this summer; the premise was that we create our thesis statements backwards. We ask our students to generate this debatable idea, one that is creative and fresh. We assume that our students think long and hard about this, generating notes, questions, ideas--all resulting in a thesis statement that came forward from inductive thinking. What the AP institute speaker said that he has found in 28 years of teaching is that our students do not go through this natural step that we do. They instead struggle with trying to create this and essentially create a lot of cursing of the material instead of creating material. Makes so much sense. I used the analogy that if we were to make a decision on whether a sweater was worth keeping because it was comfortable and warm, we wouldn't just throw in on our desk and make a quick decision about it. We would try it on, look at the types of materials used, we might test the sweater out in the cold, we might have several people try the sweater on for comfort, we would ask questions regarding the idea of comfortability and warmth. The kids got the analogy and quickly applied it to thesis.

I then put up the AP Lit teachers' blogs and showed them the posts where the teachers asked their students to discuss questions they had in regard to their independent reading book, possible thesis topics, or even actual thesis statements they were considering. The blogs also had comments from the teachers back to the particular students explaining what was working, but more importantly, what was weak, what they needed to consider, etc. My kids were thrilled, cheered and one kid said, "It's like the holy grail! The secret of theses has been revealed!" Hilarious, yes, but also really struck me. How can I take this discovery one more step?

I decided that on Monday, I am going to have the kids pull up the site and choose one student's thesis, look at the AP teacher's comments, and then "fix" the thesis statement. Make it better, address the comments, and create one that they think answers the questions posed by the teacher.

I am so excited that the kids liked seeing these students' ideas; a shout out to the AP Lit teachers for sharing this thinking process.


At 8:46 PM, Blogger Karl Fisch said...

This is great.

Have you thought about posting them on your class blog in some fashion so that the students who originally wrote the thesis statements can see the "new and improved" versions (and then comment on them if they wish)? Or, for that matter, the A.P. Lit teachers can see them? Just thinking out loud here . . .


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