Thesis Statements

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
15 minutes
Materials: Copies of “The Thesis Statement” and “Practice: Creating Thesis Statements” handouts


In this lesson students will explore the most important feature of an academic essay: the thesis statement. Many students are perplexed and often daunted when asked to write a thesis, but in this lesson they will discover that writing a thesis is neither a mysterious nor difficult undertaking. Students will learn about the basic components of a thesis statement and why they are so central to essay writing. They will also practice identifying, creating, and correcting thesis statements on their own and in groups.

Purpose – The goal of this lesson is to allow students to explore the components of a thesis statement and gain practice in writing these statements.

Students will be able to:
1. Explain the purpose of a thesis statement in an academic essay.
2. Identify the two components of a basic thesis statement.
3. Identify, create, and correct thesis statements.

National English Education Standard
Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Teacher Background
The instructor should be familiar with the purpose and development of thesis statements. This lesson introduces students to a simplified method of thesis creation. The thesis is introduced as the simple combination of a topic and the writer’s opinion on that topic. Ninth grade students most easily remember the method for writing a thesis as a formula: topic + opinion = thesis.

Related and Resource Websites



1. Begin the class with the following starter question, which may be written on the board ahead of time if desired: “What is a thesis statement? Explain its purpose in an academic essay.” Give the class about 5 minutes to settle in and respond to the question in writing. Then, open a short discussion and review the responses. Students should understand that the thesis is a sentence in the opening paragraph of the essay which tells the reader the main idea of the paper overall. Ask the class if they know how to write a thesis statement (some students will say yes, others no- allow the class to offer their ideas and knowledge). Ask the class if anyone in the room has ever felt daunted at the idea of having to write or identify a thesis statement in an essay (some may be more confident than others). Let the class know that there is an easy way to compose a thesis, and that is by knowing a simple formula: Subject + Opinion = Thesis (you may write this on the board- it is a very simple formula for thesis writing, and if you would like to substitute another formula for thesis writing, you may teach your own technique here).

2. Once students understand that a thesis statement is merely the main topic of the essay and the author’s opinion or position on that topic, they may begin practicing thesis creation. Give the class some sample subjects on the board and invite several students to offer their opinions on these topics. Then, construct complete thesis statements by stating the topic and opinion in one sentence, using academic language.

3. Pass out the handout “The Thesis Statement” to each student. Students will practice identifying, creating, and correcting thesis statements to ensure that they understand the concept. This assignment may be done individually or in pairs, depending on your class composition. Allow about 10-15 minutes for this activity, while traveling around the room to offer help and answer questions.

Any remaining time should be used by students to work on their final project essays. Encourage the students to look carefully at their essays to make sure that the thesis is clearly stated in the opening paragraph of their essay. If they have a rough draft of their essay available, ask them to underline their thesis statement in pen. If the students cannot find their thesis or their thesis statements are incomplete, have students make the necessary corrections with your guidance.

Assign the second worksheet “Practice: Creating Thesis Statements” for extra practice. This should be due the following day.

Embedded Assessment
The two handouts used in this lesson should be evaluated for comprehension of the stated objectives.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo