The key to this graphic organizer is the easy first step - the threshold is so low that it removes the intimidation of producing an instantly brilliant thesis statement. Embracing the process of revision in its design, going through the Seven Steps encourages you to practice with intention, craft, and detail.
Seven Steps to a Thesis:
Using these elements, create one basic sentence:
From here, it's all about the revision process:
1. Ralph and Piggy called a meeting with the conch in an attempt to build a community on the island.
2. (reorder) In an attempt to build a community on the island, Ralph and Piggy called a meeting with the conch.
3. (reword) Trying to convene the survivors with the conch, Ralph and Piggy seek to build a community on the island.
4. (condense) Convening the survivors with the conch, Ralph and Piggy seek to build a community on the island.
5. (add new analysis) Establishing themselves as leaders, Ralph and Piggy convene the survivors in order to start building a community.
6. (cull the best from the previous sentences) Convening the survivors with the conch's call, Ralph and Piggy establish themselves as leaders in the building community.
7. (evaluate how strong your argument is and tweak word choice) By convening survivors with the conch's call, Ralph and Piggy establish themselves as leaders of the nascent community.
Important Take Aways and Points to Emphasize:
- start with a very simple sentence (it's ok! you have six more to work with...)
- embrace 'bad' writing through the steps - agonizing over the middle steps dries up your creative juices
- you do not need to do the steps in order - look at what each step needs to improve
- ask 'what am I arguing?' throughout the process
- many students want to stop around Step 4 - pushing through the Seven emphasizes the attention to detail in a strong argumentative statement
- once they have the seventh, they are more willing to revise as their paper develops (this is especially important for students who spend so much time making the 'perfect' thesis before they start writing and then are trapped by it when their ideas develop)
Overall, I find this process helpful both for students who enjoy revising and for those who agonize over every word. When scaffolding this process, I model the seven steps with the whole group, have students do them in small groups or partners, and move to students completing the steps individually. As formative assessment for both analysis and writer's craft, I learn how my students approach constructing arguments and what vocabulary and lenses they are comfortable with. With this knowledge, I can target specific types of revision the next time we go through the Seven Steps.