When students are in the revision stage of their paper, Jerusha Achterberg uses fruits to teach students how to structure their papers so that the organization coordinates with the thesis. The idea behind this activity is to break the 5 paragraph mold students bring from high school.
Particularly, Jerusha wants the students to start thinking about structure in a nuanced way and realize that it's something that they control and can choose.
She brings in a group of fruits, which represent a group of possible ideas. The students have to generate different ways of organizing the fruits, whether by color, how much they like them etc. Then she'll have a couple students come up and group the fruits, and the rest of the class will have to guess "the thesis."
Jerusha will encourage them to think critically about whether the grouping and the thesis match. In other words, she might ask something like "If the grouping is by color, but the thesis has to do with which fruits the student likes, does the structure support the thesis?"
Some of the important points of this activity are that different theses lend themselves to different structure, things can be excluded from an essay, and theses can be complicated and do not have to be dichotomous.
The corresponding handout is attached.