From Thesis to Text
group of four or five students is asked to develop a story line that illustrates
the thesis: "Nothing ever becomes real till your life has experienced it"
(Keats). Once the groups have drafted a rough outline of a story that supports
the thesis, they are asked to collaborate in writing the first paragraph.
Their assignment is to set the tone, introduce the main characters, and
establish the thesis. Allow about twenty minutes for this part of the task.
Each group then gives its paragraph to another group, which must decide its own story line based on the tone and characters introduced in the first paragraph. The assignment is to write the concluding paragraph. When everyone has finished, someone from each group reads the first and last paragraphs to the class, which then discusses the relationships between them in terms of the thesis, tone, and viability. In other words, does the narrative come to a logical conclusion? And, more important, has the thesis been maintained?
tried this lesson in three classes, and students really enjoyed it. On a
few occasions, the concluding paragraph written by the second group wasn't
faithful to the thesis, and the first group was quick to point it out. Some
students were particularly possessive of their original paragraphs and voiced
concern when the second group hadn't treated their story the way they would
have treated it. This led to a number of lively discussions about working
theses, narrative development, and interpretation. This lesson works well
because students have a personal attachment to "their" stories. Furthermore,
creating a text that supports a particular thesis, rather than extracting
a thesis from an existing text, helps students realize the valueindeed,
the necessityof writing text with a clearly developed thesis.
|activity type||small group discussion, collaborative writing|
|skills||thesis development, analysis|
"Snapshots," "Grandma Went to Smith...," "The Proper Respect" (all from Writing in the Disciplines), or any other short story(ies).