Esol Essayist


Writing a Thesis Statement
Writing an Outline
Introduction Paragraphs
Body Paragraphs
Concluding Paragraphs
Going Public With Your  Writing
 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Choosing, Mapping, and Narrowing a Topic

People write for many reasons, but always to communicate a message. Writing is always about something. We call that something the topic.

A topic could be anything. In school, the teacher often assigns writing topics. Even when topics are assigned, students usually have to narrow, or make, the topic into something more specific.

There are three steps at the topic stage.

1. Brainstorming ideas
2. Choosing a topic
3. Narrowing the topic

These steps help to focus the writing and provide direction for the writer and readers.


What do each of these steps involve?

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What are the steps to choosing an essay topic?

Step #1: Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorming is a good way to find a topic to write about. Brainstorming is simply writing down all the ideas that you have about a topic. You can be alone or with a group to do this. After all the ideas are written down you can choose the best idea to use for your essay.

Step #2: Choosing a Topic

Here are some helpful hints for choosing a topic:

1. Choose a topic that is interesting to you.
2. Make sure there is enough information on your topic to do the assignment.
3. If you are working on a school assignment, make sure your topic fits the assignment.

After brainstorming and choosing a topic, your topic is usually very broad. It is usually too big to write only five paragraphs. The next step is to make your broad topic smaller. Making your topic smaller is called narrowing your topic.
 

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Step #3 Narrowing the Topic

Once you have decided on a broad topic, you need to narrow the topic so that there is only one main idea. Mapping the topic will help you to narrow it so you can focus on one main idea.

Idea Map

A helpful way to narrow a topic is with an idea map. Let's look at the example idea map below.

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Let's take a look at an example.

How do you think this idea map can help to narrow the topic you choose?

Teacher Tip: The instructor may wish to model other topics. Also, this may lend itself to a small group or class discussion.

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What does Sarah say?
How does drawing an idea map help you to narrow the topic?


The broad, or large topic, is "things that I like to do."

Next, I brainstormed other smaller topics that make up the broad topic (things I like to do). I listed:
1. Sports
2. Reading
3. Writing
4. Watching television

From there, I continued to map and narrow the topics. I chose even smaller topics.

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For sports I like, I chose:
(a.) rock climbing
(b.) basketball
(c.) camping
(d.) hiking
For things that I like to read, I chose:
(a.) Science fiction
(b.) Fantasy
(c.) Westerns
For things that I like to write, I chose:
(a.) Children's books
(b.) Poetry
(c.) Fantasy
Also, for things I like to watch on TV, I chose:
(a.) college football
(b.) Seinfeld
(c.) CSI

play


What does Ms. Frescas say?
Click Next to find out.

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What does Ms. Frescas say?
How does drawing an idea map help you to narrow the topic?


Sarah did a great job!

She started with the broad, or large, topic of things she likes to do and ended up with a list of smaller ideas that she could write about. These smaller ideas were sports, reading, watching television, and writing. Next, she was able to think of even smaller ideas that were more specific. These ideas could all make good essays.

In this example, then, Sarah brainstormed ideas, chose a topic, mapped the topic, and narrowed it. She can now select a specific idea and write a five-paragraph essay about it.

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play

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Now, It's time to test yourself. Click here to begin. When you are finished, return here and click the "next" button so that you can have your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Your Turn
Now, it's your turn. Click here to download and print the "Your Turn" Activity. Don't forget that you should be keeping all your "Your Turn" activities in your portfolio.

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