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Updating Your Map

The navigation system I have in my car is three years old.  Considering there’s been a great deal of construction in an area I travel to frequently, my GPS doesn’t do a great job getting me around that area.  I know I have to update my navigation system because of this, but I don’t want to.  First, I have to investigate how to do this and that will take time I don’t have right now.  Second, I know it will cost money that I don’t feel like spending.  And third, I know it will probably involve a time investment either online or at the car dealer.  Excuses, excuses, excuses.

This morning, I was preparing for a professional development session I’m doing with teachers next month.  Part of the session is about writer’s notebooks.  I want to teach teachers how to find topics to write about that matter to them.  Therefore, I will be talking about heart mapping and bone mapping as two means to doing this.  I thought about inserting my old heart map into the PowerPoint presentation, but decided against it even though it was the easy thing to do.  However, that didn’t seem like the right thing to do for two reasons.  First, a lot has changed since I last mapped my heart in 2008.  I live in a new state, I consult part-time instead of teach full-time, I’ve published a book, and I’ve had a baby.  Second, I know that in order to feel confident with teaching others how to do something, it’s crucial for me go through the motions of doing something similar leading up to teaching.  Therefore, even though it was just a mere example for teachers to view before creating their own heart maps, I decided to take the time to create a new heart map for myself.  Here it is:

Some of the many things inside of my heart.

Are you planning to teach your students how to create heart maps this fall as a way of helping them find things to write about (when they say “I have nothing to write about!)?  If so, consider updating your own heart map so it’s fresh and current.  Just as you craft new pieces of writing to share with your students each year as you go through units of study with them, updating your heart map is essential to keeping your technique for teaching heart mapping fresh.  And, perhaps it will even help you uncover new things you have to write about.

Finally, a few summers ago I was asked to create a writing lesson about heart mapping.  It’s online so feel free to download and use it with your students, then click here.  There’s also a heart map template, which you might decide to give to your students so kids don’t waste time trying to draw the perfect heart.

6 thoughts on “Updating Your Map

  1. Reading this reminds me of a book I heard about early in my teaching career. it’s call My Map Book by Sara Fanelli. I believe she was six years old when she wrote it, but I think it would be a great “peer” example of this same idea! 🙂


  2. We have done heart maps the past few years in our sixth grade memoirs. Not only are they great to inspire writing, but the hearts themselves add something special to their books. Love that Ralph Fletcher for the inspiration.


  3. I like the idea of updating the mapping. It’s always fun to tell students, new year, new you! And they get it, knowing that they aren’t those same people that said goodbye in June, and are ready for fresh ideas. Thanks for the reminder.


  4. Last summer when I was looking for lessons on setting up writing workshop, I came across your heart mapping lesson on Scholastic and used it with my class. It worked wonderfully! I liked the smaller template that students were able to cut and paste into their writer’s notebook. Thanks!!

    Blackboard and Beyond


  5. Thank you! I heart mapped with my students a couple of years ago, but for some reason I got away from it. I will return to it! Thank you for all the wonderful information!

    Best of luck in your professional development session next month.



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