ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Teach Essay Writing: Maintaining the Thesis

Updated on January 17, 2013
Source

Keeping True to the Thesis:The Sandwich Strategy

When teaching students how to write cohesive essays, the most difficult task is keeping them on track with their thesis. Whether it's a research paper or a literary response essay, students always have a tendency to veer off of the course of their thesis. For example, the literary response essay on the development of characters through the passage ending with a paragraph rating the text.

Students have a difficult time keeping true to their thesis, making sure they stay on track from introduction to conclusion. While some of these errors certainly occur in the body of the essay, most of the time they end up in the conclusion. Conclusions are not easy to write, so they have a tendency to drift away from the topic as students try to tie up the loose ends of their essay.

When I teach essay writing, either through an introduction to it with my middle school students or as a refresher for my high school students, I've developed the Sandwich Strategy. I always tell them that they need to think of their essay like a sandwich. If they follow the rules of building a sandwich when they build their essay, they will have no problem staying true to their thesis.

All sandwiches start with two pieces of bread. The top piece is the introduction of the essay. Imagine we're building a ham and swiss sandwich. When we think of the ham and swiss, what kind of bread can we use to build our sandwich? White, wheat, rye, sour bread, etc. We need to think of our introduction as the bread we choose; it is something that holds our essay together like bread holds our sandwich together, but it doesn't give away too much. The bread, like the introduction, set us up for what is to come. We don't want to put too many details in our introduction, just our thesis statement and a few sentences to lead the reader in. It's just like when we build a sandwich; we don't want to put the mayo and mustard on the outside of the bread because it gets to be messy.

When we get to the body of the essay, it is just like the middle of our sandwich. This is where all the details go. On a ham and swiss sandwich we might have mayo, mustard, lettuce, pickle, tomato, onion, ham, and swiss. All the ingredients are relevant to the ham and swiss sandwich. All of the details in the body of the essay are related to the thesis statement. We would not want to put tuna and peanut butter on our ham and swiss so therefore we would not want to put details not associated with our thesis statement in our essay.

When we get to the conclusion, students always get lost. This is where even the most well written and organized essay can lose it because the writer goes off into another direction entirely. I always go back to the sandwich. We started with rye bread so we need to end with rye bread. How many times have you had a ham and swiss sandwich between a piece of rye and a piece of cinnamon raisin? It doesn't happen because it wouldn't make sense. When writing the conclusions, have students look back to their introduction and what they wrote. Using the introduction as a reference, build the conclusion around wrapping up the essay. And just like the introduction, don't throw mayo on the bottom of the sandwich. Any extra and new details need to be put into the body somewhere.

While this strategy breaks an essay down to a level students can understand and appreciate, it's not going to solve all of the writing problems. What it will do is help students to analyze their writing and to make revisions that will help them stay on track. It helps to begin conversations about the structure and craft of their writing. If your essay was a ham and swiss, would this detail be the mayo or the peanut butter? Look at your conclusion, is that the multi-grain bread you started with or did you switch to white? These questions put a different spin on their details and help students to read and revise their writing from a different angle, helping them to make sure the essay stays on track.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)