Paragraphs: Gathering Details

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12753

This lesson will. All you have to do is. When you are finished. Is any of this making? Good writing only makes sense when it includes details! Learn the details about gathering details for your piece!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Do you think gathering eggs is an easy job or a hard job? Why or why not?

You might think that gathering eggs is an easy job, and it can be if your chickens are penned up in a yard with their chicken coop.

What about chickens that are not penned up? These are called "free-range chickens" because they can forage for their food in the surrounding area, laying their eggs in tall weeded areas as they move about. If you have free-range chickens, gathering eggs is much like an Easter egg hunt.

You can think of gathering details for writing in the same way as you would gather eggs for free-range birds because you may have to look for information in different places. Some information might come from observations you have made or your own experiences. Other details may come from research, interviews, and investigations. There are as many places to gather your details for writing as there are for chickens to hide their eggs.

There are also many graphic organizers you can use to gather and organize your details. You probably have already used some of these in your writing. Sensory detail charts, lists, and gathering grids are a few examples of graphic organizers you can use. All of these help you organize your information so that when you are ready to write, the information is there at your fingertips.

If you were planning to write a paper about gathering eggs, you might use a sensory detail chart, such as the one below:

I saw... I heard... I smelled... I felt... I tasted...
  • brown, green, and white eggs.
  • cackling hens.
  • hay.
  • blades of grass.
  • clean nests.
  • a rooster crowing.
  • chicken poop.
  • smooth shells.
  • Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, and Americana chickens.
  • calves mooing.
  • the fluffy feathers of the hens.
  • goats bleating.


A sensory chart helps make your writing more descriptive by adding detailed words that you might not have thought about without completing the chart. Stand up and move around as you listen to the Sensory Details Rap, by Jed Bloom. Try to say the words with the rapper:


  • What sensory details did the rapper use?
  • What sensory details can you use to describe your learning environment?

Write the answers to those questions on your piece of paper.

If you had witnessed an accident, you might make a quick list to put the events in the order they happened. When the police or other members of the person's family arrive, this helps you recount the details in the order they happened. If you were writing about the event for the paper or for an assignment, it would help you to not confuse your reader by putting the events out of order. For example, if I witnessed an accident, this might be my list:

  1. We were sitting at a red light in our car.
  2. The light turned green.
  3. Mom started driving through the intersection.
  4. I saw a girl on her cell phone driving through the red light.
  5. She hit the car in front of my mom.
  6. Mom called 911.
  7. She got out of the car to check on those in the wrecked cars.
  8. Police came and asked us what we saw.

A gathering grid can be used in many different ways and might have two to four columns, depending on how you are using it. If you were comparing two things, you might have three columns. The first one would have questions you want answered about both things. The second and third columns would answer the question for each of the things. For example, you are trying to decide if you should get a cat or a dog. You might make the following gathering grid:

Questions Cat Dog
  1. Can it take care of itself?
  • Most cats can take care of themselves, if food and water are available to them.
  • No. Dogs must be fed, given water, and a place to stay.
  1. Does it need supervision?
  • Not usually. If it is an indoor cat, some supervision might be required.
  • Yes. It will get into and possibly chew up things you do not want it to.
  1. Does it cost a lot to care for it?
  • It may or may not depending on its health.
  • It may or may not depending on its health.
  1. Is it independent?
  • Yes.
  • No. Dogs want friends.


You could also use a gathering grid when conducting an interview. You would only make two columns, the questions in the first column and answers in the second column. It helps you prepare your questions ahead of time. Leave room for additional questions if any should come to mind during the interview.

There are many ways to gather and organize information for your writing. Remember, the importance of using graphic organizers is to help you make your writing more descriptive and detailed.

Continue to the Got It? section, where you will practice identifying items from a description.

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