First have students simply draw a line on a piece of paper. (It doesn't get any simpler than this).
You may want to do this on the board along with them.
Then have them draw three points on the line, and label them with
significant memories. You may want to encourage them to use memories
about langauge if you are doing this before the Literacy Essay drafting. They
will complain that they have nothing worth putting on the line, that nothing has ever
happened to them, so it might be good for you to play along and do your own timeline
on the board or overhead. Pick ordinary topics and explain that simple topics are not only
easier to write about, but can potentially reveal a great deal about a person.
Once they have chosen three points and moments, have them freewrite for ten minutes
about each one. After this, you may want them to share their work with the class,
a reading partner, or their group. Have the group/partner come up with a title for
each narrative and decide which they would like to hear more about and why.
Hopefully, each student will have come up with a workable topic for their essay
and learned to focus on points in their lives, rather than the entirety of it.