This lesson addresses Common Core State Standards of Literacy/English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA – Literacy. W.6.7) with an increasing gradient in complexity for grades 6-12 .
This lesson begins the new writer’s process of learning to compose an essay, research paper or any piece of expository (business or technical) writing. It starts at a sixth grade level as far as the core standard taught in this particular lesson. The basic vocabulary words related to writing essays are included here with word etymologies so students can learn the meanings behind the words easily.
The procedure is the same for all grades, with increasing complexity in subject matter of the research required, and including a more advanced vocabulary in the study of the subject itself. Read the standards for literacy with the written word, English Language Arts: Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects 6-12
This specific lesson addresses Standard 7 (part A): Conducting short research projects to answer a question (including a self generated question).   This exercise should be practiced consistently with careful attention to the many standards for literate writing (vocabulary, grammar, organization, etc.) by overseeing the use of all of these techniques when the teacher is editing the student’s work.
Materials needed: Drawing pad, iPad or computer, (color) index cards or slips of paper, pens (colored are great).

Research and Writing a Thesis

Research and Writing a Thesis

Vocabulary words for this lesson: Thesis, fact, subject, know, discover, research, topic, text, reasoning, evidence, analysis
Vocabulary: glossary of definitions and etymologies for this lesson. A glossary is included to aid the student in vocabulary development particularly by providing easy-to-understand etymologies for these words. A grasp of Latin and Greek roots are hard to find for many students, and yet such a vital part of language learning. A good website for studying the etymologies of words is

Thesis: From Greek, thesis. It means setting down. Setting down your foot in a beat to music. Or setting down an idea; to put, place, position or set down. It means, “Here is my idea or statement.”
Fact: from Latin: an event, occurrence.; From Latin, facere: to do something; something that has taken place
Subject: from Latin: sub: under + Jet: to throw. Imagine many small objects on a table that represent many possible ideas; put your hand over a group of objects; these are the ones you will study, they are the objects under observation.
Know: to learn or understand. Greek: gnosis. Norse: kna, to know how. Scottish = gnom, to recognize.
Discover: Latin: dis: not or opposite of + cover: to hide, protect
Research: Latin: re: again + search: to look for or investigate. Text: wording of anything written. Latin textere: to join, fit together, weave
Reasoning: Latin, rationem: understanding, motive, cause
Evidence: proof. From Latin, evidentem: clear, obvious, perceivable (able to be seen). From ex: out of, + videre: to see.
Analyze: to resolve the problem by breaking into smaller parts and looking at each one. From Greek, analysis: examine closely, look at all the parts, dissect, break into parts.

Review of prior lessons:   Discuss previously learned concepts, return to earlier lessons if needed to complete a thorough review:

  1. Lesson: Purpose of Writing: We write to communicate to others: individuals such as in a note, letter email or text) or to a group such as in an essay, article, story, report, book, play or poem. Each piece of writing has its own message.
  2. Lesson: 5 Ws and How. The 5 Ws are Who, What, When, Where and Why. We can count them on the fingers of one hand. “How” we can represent with the palm: “How” means the way in which something is done.

Lesson Objective: Student writes Thesis for a research paper.
How to do it: To form a thesis it is necessary to gather together factual information before you can set down your own idea.
Exercise:   Here are the four steps to form a Thesis successfully:
1. Define the subject; what are you going to research?
2. Research facts: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How (as applicable.) (See Lesson “The 5W’s and How”)
3. Analyze facts: – Make a drawing or diagram – Showing how it works with a real life example or by showing a model of real life example, including playacting or animating objects or manipulative or forming it with clay. – Ask : What don’t I understand? What does not make sense? – Clarify what you do not understand by defining all unknown words and getting examples of what is being described, to make sure you have understood everything correctly.
4. Write your thesis based on what you have learned and what you want to communicate about this subject (What do you feel is important to say about this subject?) based on your research.
Teacher Modeling Subject: butterflies Facts: Who (Study images of various types of butterflies.) What: what are butterflies? Where: where do butterflies come from? Where do they fly? When: when do butterflies become butterflies from caterpillars? Why do butterflies exist? What do they do in the ecosystem? Are they more than something that is just very beautiful? How does a butterfly become a butterfly from a caterpillar? After reviewing the research to discover answers to my questions, I then ask myself: What don’t I understand? I clarify any words or ideas that I do not fully understand, to make sure I know my subject.
Teacher modeling (teacher explains how she does it, continued): Based on the research, butterflies are an important part of the ecosystem because they pollinate the flowers. So they are more than something that is just beautiful to look at, they are also very important and serve a very important role in the ecosystem. Now, I know enough about Butterflies to have a discussion on the subject. I can make a Thesis. This is my thesis: Butterflies are beautiful but most importantly, they are vital to the ecosystem. Now I can write my report with the full information detailing why butterflies are so important to the ecosystem and relate any important information about their beautiful design. This will require additional research to support my Thesis.
Do a simple research project with the student: Continue with the lesson by doing a short research project with the student on any subject of his or her interest. Require only that the student accomplish basic research to provide a Thesis or a statement for discussion or proof. Prompt the student to search for answers to his 5W and How questions.
Independent work: 1) Do a research project by oneself and come up with a thesis. It is not necessary to write a full report, but include all of the research that comes up with the thesis and include a complete thesis statement. Turn in the homework with all of the notes, diagrams and any other information that you have gathered, including names of websites studied, books, references to people who have knowledge or experience in the subject, etc that were used to formulate the Thesis.
When the student is confident she can develop a thesis and do a research project, 2) Give the student an assignment to research a topic of his or her interest without assistance. Develop the guidelines for the presentation of the research results (A written paper, a powerpoint or visual presentation). Provide interested guidance and even collaboration with the student as requested by the student during this process (such as allowing the student to describer her idea and get your input), as desired. Posting of completed assignments on the student’s Facebook page, website, blog or journal, is recommended for students who would like to keep a record of their work or show it to others. The student can be given this assignment on various subjects.