Almost everyone in the academic world is familiar with the "fact/opinion" thesis statement. Please note the question mark on my principal's evaluation of me pasted below. This is evidence that she knows nothing about this basic staple of essay writing. For details on this method of construction, let me suggest the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University. On the left hand tab you will find a section for grades 7-12.
Furthermore, the "fact/opinion" thesis statement is perfect for any beginning writer, and is suitable for an essay of almost any length.
Allow me to supply you with a simple example:
Kashmere High School students are not allowed to use cell phones or personal digital devices during classtime (FACT), but with proper training and administrative support, they can easily acquire digital literacy and cell phone etiquette skills (OPINION).
This is the argument/thesis statement I modeled as an example for my English I students. It is, clearly, a fact/opinion thesis statement. It is appropriate for an essay of any moderate length. It is, in reality, much too broad. But it is a beginning thesis for an argumentative paper. As my students and I write together, we will improve on our thesis, and check our paper for logical fallacies (IWC).
This example was displayed on the classroom document camera. The students and I were using a foldable as an outline. My foldable demonstrated not only the thesis statement, but also, on each flap, a topic sentence with a transitional device.
They were not expected to create anything too intricate on that day. We could build upon their thesis and argument during our individual writing conferences (IWC). The IWC's were happening spontaneously around the classroom during the time Wilson/Williams was present. Students were also commenting on each other's topic choices, and helping with each other's thesis statements.
They were learning one step of the writing process, and beginning to weave random thought into written clarification. I was "teaching writing" not simply "assigning a task."
Not only that, my students were creating a community of writers and thinkers. Was it perfect? No. But it was a strong showing for that class. They were weighed down by the late hour, the long day, and their imperfect lives, but they were writing.
Obviously, my principal was confused by the assignment, and possesses limited content knowledge. Remember, she is certified by the State of Texas to teach language arts. I find this extremely disturbing.
Finally, I would like to address the statement in her evaluation, "2 reasons why I want cellphones in the class."
I don't know where she got that. It is not stated anywhere in the room or on the lesson plan. I think she included that to insinuate I want to break campus rules by allowing my students to have phones in the classroom. Sorry, but that is simply ridiculous.
We were working from page 712 of our English I textbook. It provides 4 IDEA STARTERS:
- the link between fast food and obesity
- social problems, such as stereotyping
- cell phone use in schools
- mandatory recycling in a community
I simply borrowed the cell phone argument to get the students talking and sharing ideas. When the topic is something dear to them, they are more engaged.
My students were free to choose any topic they wished as long as it was appropriate for their audience.
The writing process is my area of expertise. Kashmere had the lowest writing scores in the district. I would have been a valuable asset to the English department had I been under the supervision of a qualified principal and administrator.