House and Home
Leslie Walker, Campbell High School

Overview: By completing a reader’s log for House on Mango Street and writing a 500 word essay emulating the style of the first chapter, students will be exposed to the universitality of the concept of home and "place," its value in our society, and the power of writing as a bridge between life and literature.


  • Class set House on Mango Street
  • pen and paper
  • template of the first vignette

Time: Approximately 10 hours

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Have the students draw line a line down the center of a piece of notebook paper and write "Quote" at the top of one column, and "Response" at the top of the second.

  2. Read the first chapter of House on Mango Street to the class, asking them to look for words, lines, or passages that they find of interest. Have students write the passage they select on the first column of their paper, and write a personal response to it on the second column. Model the same on the board, allowing them to copy your response for the first entry, if necessary. Note that entries can include questions, identification of literary devices, or personal connections and responses.

  3. Continue this read/respond activity for each vignette.

  4. After completion, place the students in groups of four. Instruct each of them to share a line and response with their group. Then have them pick one line and response from the group to share with the class. Each group then shares their choice, generating discussion from the rest of the class. Lead the class in discussion of the responses generated.

  5. Provide each student an outline of the first vignette, beginning with the words " I didn’t always live on ______________, before that I lived ____________. Continue with the first lines of each paragraph. Ex: "I always knew that _________________. "But even so, _______________."

  6. Assign a 500-word essay, following the above format, filling in the blanks with places from their own lives. Adjustments have to be made for students who have always lived in the same place:i.e. "I’ve always lived on _______________, I couldn’t imagine it any other way."

  7. On completion of the essays, students can share with the class. Another option is to bind all essays in one book and have the students select a title and illustrate a cover page.

Evaluation: Assessment is based on a reader’s log complete with a response to each vignette. I don’t adhere to the 500 word rule for the essay, but maintain an expectation of one to elicit more writing from the students. The writing aspect of the lesson allows for personal responses and connections with the idea of home and place. The oral discussion and reading of essays creates a sense of community in the classroom.

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