Mini Lesson Monday (On Tuesday): Where I’m From Mentor Text & Adding Details to our Writing

The freshman English teachers that I have been working with this semester are trying very hard to teach their students how to add specific details and examples into their writing. George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” is a wonderful model to have students read, analyze, and then mimic their own poem.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-9-45-30-pmLesson Objectives:  #1 – To analze author’s craft in poetry and #2 – to write a descriptive piece explaining where the students are from.


  1. Before we even introduced the poem to students, we gave them a graphic organizer (see below) and asked them to think about the different topics that they would see in the poem.
  2. Students listened to the teacher read aloud George Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From.”
  3. The students reread the poem and wrote down three things they learned about where the author is from. We shared those as a class as a way to discuss their understanding and confusion within the poem.
  4.  After analyzing how the poem is crafted, we asked students to use their graphic organizers and the template (see below) we provided to write their own “Where I’m From” poem.


Lessons Learned:

#1 – Next time I will have the students analyze the poem using the graphic organizer to sort where he is from first. I also needed to explain what words like traits, tendencies, heritagetraditions, etc.mean.  My students were so confused by the differences between these terms.

#2 – Students also need time to think through the graphic organizer.  I should have given this to them and asked them to talk to their family about some of the items. Then we could use this information the following day in class.

#3 – This writing activity is hard.  So many students told me that it was making their brains hurt because they had to “think” so much when writing.  My hope is that the scaffolds I plan to add in for future lessons will keep students from getting frustrated.  But, I am so glad they had to push their brains to think at a higher level!

What writing lessons have you done with freshman to encourage them to add specific support and detail into their writing?


Where I’m From Graphic Organizer


Where I’m From Writing Template


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