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The Building Blocks of an Effective Essay: Thesis, Body, Conclusion

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Lilianna Meldrum

on 8 September 2016

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Transcript of The Building Blocks of an Effective Essay: Thesis, Body, Conclusion

The Building Blocks of an Effective Essay
Body Paragraphs
Writing Effective
What does an effective
conclusion look like?
What's the BIG IDEA?
Connecting Body Paragraphs!
Three Components!
What is the purpose
of an introduction?
Basic Essay Structure

This handout will address the three essay components you will plan to include in most basic academic essays.

: Your introduction catches the attention of your reader and presents the essay's main subject. Your THESIS is placed at the end of your introduction. Your thesis is an assertion that a paper is designed to explain, prove, explore, or support. In a short 4-6 paragraph essay, the introduction is only 1 paragraph long.

The “heart” of your essay. You support your thesis in the BODY of your essay. Each paragraph of your body focuses on one distinct point or idea.

: The final paragraph(s) of a paper.
A conclusion emphasizes your main idea, reflects on what has been learned, and provides a resolution to the essay. In a short 4-6 paragraph essay, the conclusion is
only 1 paragraph long.

A. “Hook”: you want to interest the reader and catch their attention.

B. Inform: you want to inform the reader of your main subject.

C. Thesis: Your thesis is usually the FINAL sentence of your introduction. It is especially important to place your thesis at the end of your introduction when you write AP Exam essays; you want AP graders to immediately know which statement is your thesis. How does a thesis differ from a topic? The TOPIC of your paper is the general subject you are exploring. The THESIS is an assertion that a paper is designed to explain, prove, explore, or support; a thesis takes a STANCE or states an OPINION you will prove.
A successful introduction for a short 4-6
paragraph essay is often 3-6 sentences long.

1. An effective thesis expresses a distinct point of view.
Remember that your thesis is a strong assertion that demonstrates your perspective on a subject - any subject! One of the primary questions that your reader will ask is: Can I clearly understand this writer's point of view, idea, or stance? Don't be afraid to have a strong opinion - as long as you can support it!
2. An effective thesis is always SPECIFIC. A strong thesis statement should show precisely what you plan to discuss. This means listing the devices, elements, or types of examples you will discuss RIGHT IN YOUR THESIS!

Examples of a weak thesis:
Debate can be a great thing to do.
Shakespeare's plays have a lot of rhetorical power.

Examples of a stronger thesis:
Competitive forensics is a valuable activity for learning new things, making new friends, and gaining new experiences.

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar employs appeals to emotion,
hyperbole, and appeals to ethos to explore how easily
rhetoric may be used to manipulate an audience.

Your BODY is the heart of your essay!

This is where you use detailed examples to support your THESIS assertion or analyze the main idea presented in your thesis. If you listed several points or devices in your thesis, you will tackle ONE point or device PER BODY PARAGRAPH. In an analysis essay, an example will consist of a rhetorical device used by an author. In an argumentative essay, an example will consist of specific evidence that supports a point of your thesis.
As you discuss each example you provide, consider:

WHAT the example(s) is: explain it clearly.
WHY the example supports or explains your thesis statement: this connection MUST BE MADE.
HOW the example relates to the rest of your essay.

If you want clear, well-organized body paragraphs, this is a good basic way to order your thoughts. As we explore different types of AP category essays, I will discuss variations on this basic theme. This structure is relevant to all AP Language essays.

1. TOPIC SENTENCE. Your topic sentence tells the reader the TOPIC of your paragraph or the TYPE OF EXAMPLE you will address in your paragraph.

2. EXAMPLES. A typical body paragraph of most academic essays will contain 1-3 examples, depending on how long and complicated each example is. Try to lead in smoothly to each example; avoid awkward or choppy sentence structure.

3. ANALYZE EACH EXAMPLE YOU PRESENT. This is the most important part of your discussion! Look at the example you've chosen and ask yourself: What is the PURPOSE of this example? What is the VALUE of this example?

4. FINALLY, TIE YOUR DISCUSSION BACK TO THE THEME. At the end of each body paragraph, try to tie it back to the specific language of your thesis and show how the example helps to PROVE YOUR THESIS or EXPRESS
THE THEME. OR MESSAGE of your essay.
This may only take one sentence.
(This is an excerpt from a short essay discussing the value of competitive forensics, or speech and debate competitions)

(TOPIC SENTENCE WHICH SUGGESTS MAIN SUBJECT OF PARAGRAPH: LEARNING NEW THINGS) Preparing for a forensics competition requires the participant to research a wide variety of issues, from current events to theological issues. (STRONG, SPECIFIC EXAMPLE AND ANALYSIS) The ten-minute platform speeches require a student to pick a topic, research the topic, and write a logical and organized speech on that topic. I have learned about the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the problems with recycling, our constitutional rights, and so much more. Forensics provides the opportunity to become passionate about an issue and share that passion with others. (STRONG, SPECIFIC EXAMPLE AND ANALYSIS OF GREATER IMPORTANCE) Moreover, in debate, students must learn to argue and defend both sides of a position. This helps them learn how to communicate clearly and effectively and to think on their feet. (CONNECTION TO "BIG PICTURE"). These skills prepare people not only for competition but also for future college and job interviews. The tools and information learned during speech and debate are an invaluable part of everyday life.

→ Paragraph transition simply means what occurs when one paragraph ends and another begins.
→ Ask yourself: how does one point relate to the NEXT point? How do the pieces of my essay fit together? Why am I telling the story in this order? Transitional words and phrases relate sentences to preceding sentences or paragraphs. They help us demonstrate the RELATIONSHIPS between EXAMPLES or POINTS. They act as links in a chain, helping us to follow the train of the writer's thoughts.
→ Good transitional words and phrases include: Accordingly, finally, furthermore, however, for example, as a result, for instance, meanwhile, now, similarly, therefore, conversely, instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, yet, but, however, etc. You do not have to use these specific words, but please think about how paragraphs CONNECT!

The last paragraph of any academic essay is the conclusion.
Your conclusion should emphasize the "big idea" without merely rehashing your introduction. A conclusion makes a final statement about the main topic you are exploring. A good conclusion is typically 3-5 sentences.

Conclusions can be difficult to write! At this point in our essay, we are often tired, impatient, and feel that we've run out of things to say. How can we avoid sounding repetitive and trite?
Make sure that you are not just repeating the thesis verbatim.
Demonstrate that we have learned something by reading the essay!
Do not just emphasize the exact same idea over and over in each sentence of your conclusion...even if it is a good idea!
A conclusion is not a summary; show how the points you've made fit together or support your main assertion. This is the difference between summarizing and synthesizing: summarizing merely lists the examples you've given, while synthesizing demonstrates how everything works together!

Repetitive Conclusion: We can thus conclude that reusable cloth grocery bags are superior to plastic or paper bags. If you consider all of the points we have reviewed, this is clear to see. Reusable bags are better than either of the other types we have examined.

Clear, Informative, Interesting Conclusion: The environment is important; however, so are our personal time and money. Fortunately, the reusable cloth grocery bag is the logical choice that considers all three of those aspects of our lives. Even though this is a small daily or weekly choice, it can contribute to a healthier, less cluttered future.
Organizing your essay is not merely something you learn to do in order to get a good grade or pass a test; it will help you express your thoughts and perspectives in a clear and persuasive way! Good analysis and argumentation skills will help you in many areas of your life.

Your ideas are valuable, and you owe it to yourself to communicate them to others in the most effective way possible!
If you feel that essay-writing is a personal challenge, don't worry. We'll work on this throughout our course and explore many variations on this basic theme (i.e. we'll explore analysis, argumentative, and
synthesis essays)
(HOOK) Have you ever had to present a speech in front of a group of people? Did you feel the familiar flip-flop of your stomach as you walked to the front of the room ? (INFORM) The fear of public speaking is a common and understandable emotion. However, I have learned to overcome that fear and enjoy communicating to others. In fact, for me, public speaking is a favorite activity. For the past six years I have participated in competitive forensics, or speech and debate competitions. (THESIS) Forensics is a valuable activity for learning new things, making new friends, and gaining new experiences .

As you can see, your introduction can be a great place to incorporate tools such as imagery, humorous hyperbole, interrogative rhetorical questions,
concrete diction and more!
Body Paragraphs
Aspects of a Strong Thesis
What are our Essay Goals in this course?
Over the course of our AP Language class, we will encounter multiple categories of essays. The following three essay types reflect the essays you will write on the AP Language exam itself:

1. Argumentative: Essays which strive to persuade your reader to agree with your perspective on a topic.

2. Rhetorical Analysis: Essays which identify rhetorical devices a writer has used in his or her piece and analyze the EFFECT of each device, ultimately discussing whether or not a writer's TOOLS effectively express their THEME or message.

3. Synthesis: A special category of argumentative essay which requires you to combine several short sources into a single discussion; on other AP Exams this category is sometimes called a DBQ (Document Based Question).

The great news is that ALL THREE of these essay categories will require the same basic essay structure; that is what we will explore today. Once we practice basic essay structure, we can begin to explore each *specific* essay
category in more depth.
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