Creating Thesis Statements

A few weeks ago, my 8th graders and I did some hexagonal thinking around the comments Suzanne Collins makes on American society in The Hunger Games. I love teaching this book because most of my students have already read it, but they haven't read it with the same depth with which we explore it in class. 

After finishing the novel this week, they did some more hexagonal brainstorming. Some worked in small groups and some worked as individuals as they tried to get ideas flowing for their essay analyzing one of Suzanne Collins's critiques. 

When we build thesis statements in my classroom, we look at this triangle: 

In this case, our context was both The Hunger Games and the United States. The subject was the area they were exploring, from poverty to fashion to government to beauty to violence. Finally, they need to make an arguable claim: What did Suzanne Collins comment about that subject? They work to craft, yes, craft, a beautiful sentence weaving those things together. 

This morning I drank my coffee, opened up their Google Docs, read their thesis statements, and was wowed. Here are a few of the beauties: 

  • In her novel The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins displays general America’s lack of privacy as a result of government agencies through the Capitol’s surveillance of Panem and the Hunger Games. 
  • In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins criticizes America’s unnatural beauty standards through the people of the Capitol’s outlandish appearances. 
  • In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins uses the Gamemakers’ hunger for action throughout the televised Games to denounce the way the American entertainment industry finds the need to captivate an audience through violence.

Boom. From eighth graders. Beautiful. It's so cool to see how much they've grown as writers (not to mention people) since they came to me in sixth grade.

As we continued to write today, I was jumping in and out of Docs, and I found myself constantly going "hmmm..." out loud. I love how students make me see new things in the literature, even though I've already taught it a bunch of times. Kids are the coolest. 

So thank you hexagonal thinking and those of you who have encouraged me in the exploration of it. The technique helped create some great thesis statements, and their topic sentences are looking just as fantastic. I'm legitimately looking forward to grading these essays.