Focus Lesson Planning Sheet
Focus Lesson Using An Inverted Triangle To Find A
Topic Specific Writing Topic
Adapted from Dorfman and Cappelli, 2007
Inverted triangle organizer (copy for each student)
Materials Story ideas from teacher’s life (broad to narrow focus)
We have spoken about how good personal narratives tell about one
Connection small moment and the author zooms in and focuses on that small
moment when he/she tells the story. Today we are going to see a
way of helping us do just that.
Explicit I know from talking to you that you all have really great things to
tell about. However, sometimes we are still thinking of big
Instruction watermelon topics and we’re having trouble figuring out how to zoom
in on one seed idea within that big watermelon. One strategy that
An alternate plan
would be to use a writers use to help them focus is to create an organizer that
piece children’s narrows and focuses their thinking to one small moment. It looks
literature with which like this. Draw the inverted triangle organizer. It’s like starting
the students are
with a big block or wood or marble and gradually whittling it down
already familiar and
create the inverted until what’s left is the work that only you can see and make. The
triangle that the author triangle shape reminds you to whittle down smaller and smaller,
may have utilized to narrowing your focus more and more.
narrow the focus.
Watch me use this tool.
Relate idea from your own life that starts as a big topic (for
example, my trip to DisneyWorld). Then with each successive level
of the triangle as you progress toward the more focused point at
the bottom, narrow the focus of your big topic (for example, the
rides at Disney, the roller coasters, Space Mountain, and finally,
the time the kid in the car behind threw up on Space Mountain).
Point out that the bottom level is not really stated as part of the
list but more as “the time….” This shows that the writer has
arrived at a small moment seed idea. Also explain how different
triangles may or may not need more or less levels in order to zoom
in to the final focused small moment.
This final part of my triangle is a small moment story that only I
could tell because it is a story which I was in and a part of. Lots of
people could describe Disneyworld (or other big watermelon you are
using in your demonstration), but only I have zoomed in on this one
.Let’s try creating one together. Let’s start with a big topic you all
know about. Choose something like “recess.” Guide children’s
Practice responses in such a way that a narrowing will occur. So now what do
we want to zoom in on about that (so for recess, maybe “the
playground equipment”). So now what about the playground
equipment? Again, elicit a response that will demonstrate focusing
the topic (going across the monkey bars). Can we zoom in even
more? Try and bring to an eventual “point” or small moment with
someone’s response (for example, the time I fell off the monkey
bars and got a bloody nose). Demonstrate that this is the small
moment from which to build a personal narrative story.
Send Off [for Today take a look at your heart map or other ways you have been
coming up with ideas. Think about if these ideas are more like
Independent watermelons. If they are, use the triangle organizer tool to try to
Practice] focus your big idea and whittle it narrower and narrower until you
find a small moment seed idea within that big watermelon topic.
Share triangle organizers students have used to narrow focus.