I picked up Georgia Heard's Heart Map book at a conference a few weeks ago and opened the pages to read: “Heart mapping opens the door to literacy for all writers - including reluctant, struggling, and blocked writers.” (Heart Maps p. 6) My mind instantly went to a very reticent student that froze during any written task. I had to buy this book and read more.
Upon returning to school I immediately shared the heart map book with a colleague in hopes we could reach that reluctant writer. She was more than interested in collaboratively planning a lesson. The class was just starting a mini poetry unit the following week so we decided to introduce heart maps to her class as a way to inspire nature list poems with her first graders. Here’s how it went:
- Share a nature walk through a picture slide show.
- Share pictures
- Point out interesting features
- Remark on feelings throughout
- X marks the spot - beginning of walk
- Discuss how map contains drawings and words
- Make note of what’s happening in the heart
- Take class nature walk - in rain
- Discuss what we see
- Feel - what's happening in the heart
- Class creates heart map
- X marks the spot
- Add drawings
- Use prompt: I opened my eyes and what did I see… (as suggested in book)
- Starting at X - if they so choose
- Encourage describing words with feelings
We were both amazed at the success of their first poetry writing of the year. Most children were able to put pencil to paper quickly to write their first poem of the year in a carefree manner. My reticent friend produced a nice heart map of our nature walk, but couldn’t transfer his thoughts to the poetry paper. I was able to take steps towards conversing with him about his map, and judge that was the first step towards building a trusting relationship. After all writing makes one vulnerable and you have to trust your audience.
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life blog area each Tuesday. Through this site I learn and grow from writers across the continent.