Here's how it works. First, we introduce students to our Thesis Graphic Organizer. We typically do this through our Thesis Workshop (another interactive station activity involving iPads, LEGOs and more), but you can easily do a quick mini-lesson to introduce the graphic organizer if you don't have a day to devote to the Thesis Workshop. We recommend starting your mini-lesson with this short video by Andrew Kappel entitled, "How to Write a Thesis for Beginners." It uses Superman as an example. Next, introduce the thesis graphic organizer.
Then, the fairy tale fun begins. Students are given a Fairy Tale Graphic Organizer handout and travel in groups to tables that each feature a Grab Bag. In the bag, are clues about the fairy tales. Students have a few minutes (we recommend 6-8 minutes) to write a thesis statement about the fairy tale in their bag. For example, the Snow White bag we created has a Snow White book (Little Golden Books version), an apple, a mirror, a diagram of a heart (remember that savvy hunter who faked out the queen with a pig's heart and claimed it was that of Snow White? Clever). And then they rotate to another table with a different Grab Bag. Students develop all sorts of thesis statements.
Here's one of our favorites from year's past:
You get the idea.
Watch a quick video of our students engaged in this activity to get a better sense of how we set it up.
We have tons of ideas for contents of grab bags. Also, we decided to mix it up this year and added a Star Wars Grab Bag and a Batman Grab Bag. These were a huge hit, especially with some of our more reluctant learners. We are going to throw in a Minions Grab Bag and Minecraft Grab Bag next year.
An elementary school teacher, might choose to have the whole class create a thesis statement using a Grab Bag. Then, students could refine the skill by working in pairs or small groups with a new Grab Bag. Also, this certainly isn't limited to Fairy Tales. You could create a grab bag for any content area or any subject.
Lastly, if the bags aren't for you or your student population, you can easily modify this lesson with envelopes. Evidence Envelopes are built on the same concept but might work better for upper grade levels. Rather than putting evidence in a bag, documents are placed in an envelope. Students then craft their thesis statements in groups or pairs using the envelopes.
Bottom line: this works. Promise. We've used this for multiple years with great results. So use it, share it, or change it to meet your needs and the needs of your students. Let us know how it goes. To end with a thesis statement of our own:
Put simply, we love hearing from you!
-Corey & Gretchen
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