This program is very systematic in its teaching. It was like having a step-by-step to do list. Where all other programs failed because they were too conceptual, this program worked because of the easy step-by-step process. My son is in high school now and his writing is acceptable. He’s not a natural writer, so I don’t think it will ever be exceptional, but it is good now. Even though Pattern Based Writing is intended for younger children, it is great for a remedial program at the middle school level. I just moved faster at the earliest stages. What I found was that the simple explanation of things makes this program wonderful for a child who is struggling with writing. You get the “Oh, that’s all you wanted” light bulb going off.
This lesson is based on the belief that students cannot master an essay component such as the thesis statement in the abstract, but will best learn its nature by studying it in the context of a concrete historical problem. Therefore, the lesson's activities are based on an introductory essay and a set of primary source documents on one historical topic—the Haymarket Square bombing in Chicago in 1886. The Haymarket episode is a dramatic one that should also hold student interest well. A single DBQ on this topic and several alternate thesis statements are then used in three student activities. These illustrate what makes thesis statements effective, as well some common problems or mistakes in writing clear thesis statements. The lesson consists of the following handouts: