Teach students to identify key words/kernels in a writing prompt or question. Then have students flip the question and write a thesis statement by using the identified key words/kernels from the prompt. Students must explain how, why, or because in order to form a strong thesis statement. Peer grading/evaluation checklist is included. Based on peer suggestions, students correct their thesis statements before turning in the activity for a grade. The partial suggested key can be projected--volunteer students can provide the class with their statements for teacher/class critique. This works as a great introduction before teaching essay writing or short answer response writing.
Use the second assignment ("The Most and Greatest") when you're ready to teach students how to prove a thesis--also use it as a re-teach for later thesis writing skill strengthening.