Heart Maps: Another Twist.

Sara left the following comment, which I love, first, because it’s a comment and, second, because I was planning to blog about this today.  What is that they say about minds that think alike?

First, heart mapping was developed by Georgia Heard.  She speaks of it in her book, Awakening the Heart:  Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School.  In fact, there is a heart map on the cover.  I also found her handout describing Heart Mapping, in this pdf file of a presentation she gave.  It is on page 11. 

In a nutshell heart mapping is about creating a map of your heart.  It is a way to find the really important stuff of your life.

However, what I’ve found is that sometimes students (especially boys) have a tough time really getting into making a heart map.  For some reason hearts aren’t all that cool to some.  So today, on my way to a classroom where I was going to introduce heart maps, an idea hit me.  (Why is it the best ideas always come at the last minute?) 

This summer I listened to Katherine Bomer speak of writing close to the bones, so why not make a bone map?  Same idea as the heart map, simply a wording switch:  What’s close to your bones?  Yes, much cooler than hearts in some people’s eyes.

I quickly sketched the outline of a bone (it looked more like a dog biscuit, as one student told me) and ran a few copies.  I gave students a choice between mapping their hearts or identifying the things close to their bones.

These concepts work because they give writers a word picture — a concrete image — to apply to help make sense of abstract ideas like finding a meaningful writing topic.    It works at a range of grade levels, as well.  I’ve used this strategy from first grade through eighth grade, with success each time.

We’d love to hear how it goes in your classroom, as well as any adaptions or twists you’ve invented or have seen.