{Discover. Play. Build.} More on Maps

A notebook entry collecting some of my "slices" of life.

Last week…

Stacey blogged about updating heart maps. (See everything we’ve blogged about heart maps here.)

B. blogged about hand lists.

I was reminded about writing close to the bones.

I kept thinking about my slice of life pepperoni pizza.

Aren’t these just fancy lists? you may be wondering. The short answer is yes.

But that’s not the reason I advocate for them in student notebooks. Like most things about teaching writers, there’s a deeper reason why I make the instructional choices I do. I promise making something fancy for the sake of flair is never one of my reasons.

When we give students containers like heart, hand, and bone maps to collect bits of their lives, their notebook entries become richer. They remember forgotten stories. They make connections across time in their lives. Important people beyond their moms, dads, and siblings bubble to the top. By forcing our brains to think about the same old thing in a new way we usually find unexpected treasures.

This is especially important for older students. I hope to help them delve deeper into connections, memories, and reflections of their lives. This often means helping them find new starting points for their writing. It can be the same topics they’ve written about in the past, but with a new understanding, a new meaning. Other times it’s discovering new topics and writing about them in deeper ways.

I like thinking about notebook entries as containers for collecting bits of life. As I get to know fictional characters, I find my richest understandings come when I complete notebook entries like this. It makes me realize the same is true for our students when writing about their lives. It’s not enough for us to say, “Write a story about your life.” We must help them find a meaningful story, from all the stories in their lives, so they can write well.

Filling pages in summer 2011...

{Discover. Play. Build.}If you can find fifteen minutes, then try one of these containers for collecting bits of your life. We’d love to hear about the unexpected treasures you discover by forcing your brain to remember in a different way. Here are a couple of my own examples that I created for some new YA characters I’m playing with:

Hand Map for Sophia

Heart Bone Map for Krums (As you can see, he refused to make a heart map.)