My Writer’s Workshop and Writing Connections students are in the process of creating their own zines on topics they have chosen; students selected topic that they are experts on and want to share their passion for through their own hand-crafted zine.   Zines are ” self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images” and can be created in many different formats.  We are crafting zines as our entry point into informational writing and will share our publications with our fellow students through the CA Media Center.

Like many teachers, I’ve been a big fan of Georgia Heard and her work for years.  Earlier this fall, I purchased her new book, Heart Maps: Create and Craft Authentic Writing; I also joined the Facebook group for the book where other educators are posting their students’ heart maps.  It was in this Facebook group that I found an inspirational mentor text for our my students from a mother who was using the tool with her son:

Screenshot from the Georgia Heard Heart Maps Facebook Group

Screenshot from the Georgia Heard Heart Maps Facebook Group

I printed 10 copies of each photo and put them in my trusty neon shop ticket pouches that I use for mentor texts so students could have copies at their desk to work from (as well as a projected copy on the whiteboard) for our noticings activity.  I also downloaded one of the nonfiction/informational templates that you can access online if you register your book with Heinemann.


I did different variations of how we approached the noticings with each grade level, but essentially, we brainstormed in small groups what we noticed about the organization of information, the information itself, and the visual qualities of the “mentor text” heart map.   After we discussed our noticings as a large group, we generated a list of the design and organization elements we wanted to incorporate into our heart maps of our zine topics.  Since our plan is to use these as the first content page in our zines to introduce the reader to our topic, we used our zine project planner we had already completed to help us set up our categories or labels for the outer parts of the map; students then aligned a nugget fact they loved most about that subtopic on the corresponding inner part of the map.

Student working on map Researching Art supplies for maps A heart map in progress Working on a heart mapStudents at work

We used our #makerzine project supplies funded so graciously by our friends and DonorsChoose to begin crafting our heart maps.  Once students completed their heart maps, they cut them out and glued them onto a piece of colored paper of their choosing.  Here is a sampler of our student created zine topic heart maps from students in grades 6-8:







The students have been incredibly enthusiastic about creating their heart maps; even students who initially felt worried about crafting an image discovered the process was much easier than they anticipated.  We are now finishing our zine covers and working on our first content pages of our zines.  We look forward to sharing our zines with the CA student body after the first of the year!

Buffy Hamilton
Writer’s Workshop and Writing Connections Teacher
War Eagle Writing Studio