Published on August 26, 2007
West Hills Essay Format: West Hills Essay Format Thesis Practice Slide2: The West Hills Essay Format is just a way to organize your thoughts logically. It is useful for lots of different kinds of writing, but this year, we'll primarily be using it to analyze literature. To understand the basic ideas behind this way of writing, think about a lawyer in a courtroom. The lawyer's goal is to prove his or her case, right? Well, in an essay, you are the one who is trying to prove something. We call that the THESIS. Slide3: A THESIS is something that you are trying to prove. It is a statement, and it includes something that you are trying to prove. It does NOT include any facts. You could find facts that would prove your THESIS. This is your evidence. Slide4: A THESIS is a statement that includes something to prove about what you’ve read. It has no facts. You could offer evidence to prove it. The evidence would be facts. EXAMPLE: The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz was responsible for her own fate. Question: Is this something to prove, or is it a fact? Could you argue about it? Slide5: The statement is a THESIS because it fits our description. EXAMPLE: The Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz is responsible for her own fate. We could argue that what happens to the witch is actually not her fault. We could also try to find evidence to prove that she IS responsible. Therefore, this is a THESIS. Slide6: REVIEW: Remember the rules for deciding if a statement is a THESIS: A THESIS is something that you are trying to prove. It is a statement, and it includes something that you are trying to prove. It does NOT include any facts. You could find facts that would prove your THESIS. This is your evidence. Slide7: With a partner, look at the sample THESIS statements and, using the rules, decide whether or not each statement is really a THESIS. Cinderella had two step sisters. West Hills is a large campus. There are 2,400 students on our campus. Goldilocks has great disrespect for others. 5. School starts too early in the morning. Slide8: REVIEW One of the most important things in essay writing is constructing GOOD THESIS statements. Remember the criteria: a THESIS does not contain facts. It is a statement. It has some point to prove that can be supported with evidence (CDs). Slide9: Are these THESIS statements? Anne Frank was brave. Punk music sucks. School is too hard. Why are we doing this? Canada is north of the United States. Alien beings must surely exist in the vast reaches of space. In GOLDILOCKS, the wolf was mean. Slide10: Anne Frank was brave. . This fits the definition of a THESIS. It’s an opinion, something that could be proved with evidence, and it is a statement. It’s not really a GREAT thesis, though, because it just doesn’t say very much. It would limit your commentary a bit, and if you added something, it would be stronger: The brave Anne Frank resisted sadness and depression in the face of horrible circumstances, and proved that the human spirit is stronger than hate. Slide11: 2. Punk music sucks. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t but that’s pretty tough to prove. Avoid thesis statements that are simply SUBJECT/ADJECTIVE statements. Also, be careful that you’re not just giving a personal judgment that can’t be backed up with evidence. Punk music, which tends to be loud and obnoxious, makes kids more aggressive and causes them to be a problem in society. You may not agree with this statement, but it’s a better thesis. You could find evidence to try and prove it, plus you would have more to say in the commentary statements. Slide12: 3. School is too hard. Same problem…SUBJECT/ ADJECTIVE. It’s also tough to prove since it’s more of a personal opinion. With the pressure to achieve high grade point averages and to excel beyond what our parents did, high school today has become emotionally stressful and physically harmful to students. Basically, this says pretty much the same thing, but there is more information and more specific ideas about WHY school is too hard. You could find evidence to prove this. Slide13: 4. Why are we doing this? Because I said so! No…I mean, it’s not a thesis. It’s a question, not a statement. 5. Canada is north of the United States. Can we argue about this? Nope. It’s a fact. 6. Alien beings must surely exist in the vast reaches of space. This might work, if you could find facts that would back up the probability, or experts who can be quoted as supporting this claim. Slide14: One way to improve your thesis writing is to consider WHY you intend to prove whatever you’ve chosen. This can expand your thesis statement and help focus your commentary. Punk music sucks. WHY? Because it tends to lead to aggression in its listeners. Also, don’t use slang like 'sucks' in a formal academic paper unless it’s in a quote. Anne Frank was brave. WHY? Because she was able to continue to be optimistic in the face of great hatred. Slide15: Work with a partner and find a way to rewrite these thesis statements to improve them. Alcohol use is dangerous for young people. Curfew is unfair. It is wrong to test cosmetics on animals. Cell phones must be allowed on school campuses. Dress codes are necessary. Homework is harmful. 7. The Harry Potter books impact lots of kids.