Igniting our Hearts to Guide our Writing

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SWBAT produce clear writing in which the development and style are appropriate to task by creating a heart map full of writing inspiration.

Big Idea

Can a "craft activity" be tied to CCSS? Absolutely!

Lesson Explanation

A complaint I often hear is that there is no time left for "fun" classroom activities while teaching through the CCSS . While it is true that my focus and curriculum has eliminated the "fluff" assignments that I taught purely because they were fun, the CCSS haven't taken creativity out of my classroom.  Students need time to use both sides of their brain.  They need to create.  In my classroom, students are authors.  Authors write best using ideas they deeply care about.  This heart mapping lesson is a tool for student authors to generate ideas that matter to them and they can write about passionately.  After completing this activity, students have a map they can turn to if they are having difficulty thinking of topics.  Teachers and students can also add to this map throughout the year.  Sophomore year is a year of progression and change.  The map serves as a “what’s important to me” time capsule.  

Warm Up--Access prior knowledge

5 minutes

Yesterday, we talked about the writing process.  On a piece of paper that you will keep in the writing section of your binder, I want you to list the steps on the writing process from yesterday.  You may use a partner to help you.  

After a couple of minutes, I lead the class to put a list on the board:

plan, draft, revise, confer, edit, publish, and share


This warm up is a great way to use writing to activate prior knowledge (W.9-10.10)

Mini Lesson-Sharing my heart

7 minutes

The first step in the writing process is plan.  Before students can produce clear writing, they must strengthen that writing by planning (W.9-10.5) Today, students are working in this plan process.  I am not one to take time out for craft projects in my classroom.  However, this project is fun and important for writing ease down the road.  I have had many students tell me years after they’ve graduated that they still have their heart and look at it periodically.  This is my Teacher heart map example 


In this section of the lesson, I say to my students: 

One of my favorite books is To Kill A Mockingbird.  It  is dear to my heart.  It is my favorite because I believe that Harper Lee, the author, loved her characters and the topics in the text.  When I read the words, I feel connected to the characters and plot.  I cheer for Scout and Boo Radley and cry with Jem.  When writers write about topics for which they are passionate, those writings have a tendency to jump off the page.  

Some of my favorite pieces of writing I have written are the result of deeply personal topics or topics that are really important to me.  A few years ago at a conference I attended, I was shown this strategy to record writing ideas.  It’s called heart mapping.  

I project my heart map and say, Here is my map that contains the contents of my heart.  

[discuss the contents of my heart.  Teacher heart map example]

Whenever I’m stuck and not sure what to write about, I refer to my heart map for guidance.  It tells me what has stayed in my heart for a long time because I put those items near the center and what is new to my heart because I put those toward the edge.  

Student Work Time--Students build their hearts

15 minutes

Now you are going to create your heart map that you can use to strengthen your writing by planning for a specific purpose and audience (W.9-10.5).  I have put out construction paper, markers and scissors for you.  I want  you to create a heart that is beautiful to you.  This is something you are going to refer to often, so think about it.  Once you’re heart is created, start filling it with the places you’ve traveled, people  you’ve loved and lost, experiences you’ve had, etc.  What memories, moments, people, animals, objects, places, journeys, dreams and learning experiences hold a special place in your heart? You have 15 minutes to complete your heart.  By the end of 15 minutes, you should have a minimum of 12 meaningful ideas on your heart.

Closure--Contributing to a classroom heart

10 minutes

Next, I tell my students:


I have really enjoyed watching you fill your heart map with wonderful writing ideas.  I think it would be really great to have a class heart.  I have six sections of English II and each class is different.  I would like each of you to think about one thing from your map that you want to put on the class heart.  

I’ve prepared a classroom heart and as I call on students, I write their information on the classroom heart.