Narrowing Down the Field
Show students four different sizes of T-shirts and demonstrate how each will help narrow down a topic for writing. The template for the T-shirts can be downloaded from the media gallery.
Begin with a very broad topic like sports. Demonstrate that with a topic like sports, you could write about football, basketball, your time playing Little League baseball, and the time you took tennis lessons. Invite students to share how that paper would be too long, and could not possible contain enough detail. This is the largest size T-shirt.
Showing the next size shirt, explain that you could write about basketball. This topic is still large, as you could write about your favorite NBA team, a favorite college team, playing basketball in the backyard, and playing on the 4th grade team.
Still too broad. Next, I am going to choose my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, this time I can write about the team, their uniforms, my favorite player, or the time I attend a game. Let students share how this is still a lot to cover, and would require a lot of writing to get the necessary detail.
Finally, showing them the smallest shirt, you can share that you will write about when you attended a Cavs game. You can include details about where you sat, what the score was, and how the basketball landed in your lap when it was going out of bounds.
By talking students through this process, you are showing them how they can take a broad topic and slowly narrow it down to a more usable topic.