"heart mapping is a metaphor for what all writers know: to write is to delve into what matters to us, to keep our feelings alive, to be vulnerable, to tell the truth, to question, and to speak what many people only keep inside."
Georgia Heard, Heart Maps: Helping Students Create and Craft Authentic Writing
heart map share
Peconic Community School embarks Tuesday morning on a new Valentine's Day tradition -- a heart map share! In lieu of a card or candy exchange, the PCS community will open our doors to family and friends to share the heart maps we've created over the past several weeks. This winter each PCS student, guided by the work of Georgia Heard, has created a visual representation of his or her heart: a map of the thoughts, feelings, people, ideas, dreams, and memories that dwell within. The culmination of this deeply introspective process is a beautifully intentional revelation of our hearts and our work to our families and friends on love's honored day. It is with love, honesty, and trust that we invite you to view the landscapes of our hearts.
Heart maps are the creation of Georgia Heard, writer, poet, teacher, and founding member of Columbia Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project. As a writing teacher of all ages, Heard sees her work as helping students to write with purpose and meaning. It is through the making of heart maps that she has guided her students into more authentic writing experiences by "exploring what we all hold inside: feelings, passions, vulnerabilities, and wonderings." And it is with a degree of literalness that she uses the term "map" and refers to herself as a "cartographer of the heart: mapping out inner territories with words."
Ms. Heard is part of a family of cartographers; her older sister and two cousins are mapmakers working at the National Geographic Society. While Ms. Heard writes about the metaphorical nature of heart maps, "about imagining a metaphoric heart map as a means to discover stories," the heart map also functions as a literal map -- meant to hang on the classroom wall or be glued into a writer's notebook -- that students are encouraged to turn to throughout the school year as inspiration for meaningful writing -- a practical touchstone.
how to heart map
Heart maps invite the writer to reflect upon what lives in his or her heart, upon which things occupy the most space and why, and upon how the different ideas, feelings, and people share the space of the heart. Heart mapping is a creative process accessible to all writers: our Valentine's Day share exhibits the beginning marks, strokes, and words of our youngest Early Childhood writers; the emerging intricacy of our Lower Primary writers' images and ideas; the growing fluency and complexity of Middle Primary writers' work; and the sculpted interpretation of the heart's landscape presented by Upper Primary writers. The heart maps celebrate the varied processes of self-reflection and expression that emerge at each developmental stage.
why heart maps
Georgia Heard offers compelling reasons to practice heart mapping with writers both experienced and emerging. Among them:
Heart mapping is visual: “Because writing is contained within the visual shape of a heart, it tends to be less abstract and becomes a kind of visual and emotional blueprint for writers to map the people, memories, and experiences that are significant and memorable to them.”
Heart mapping offers freedom and space for ideas to grow: “heart mapping is a scaffold that supports writers as they brainstorm, play (yes, play!), take wrong turns, search for the right words, and generate multiple ideas to open up a topic.”
Heart mapping connects us to ourselves: "heart mapping can help writers feel intensely alive and wide-awake to their feelings."
Heart mapping connects us to our community: "heart mapping and sharing our heart maps can help us recognize that all of us have life stories in common."
sources and resources
all quotations from: Georgia Heard, Heart Maps: Helping Students Create and Craft Authentic Writing, 2016.
see also: Georgia Heard, Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School, 1998.