Commonplace Books & Assessment

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. I need to change that!

In RM 293, we’re working on Transcendentalism. The final project for this particular unit is a personal commonplace book, sort of like the one that Christopher McCandless kept during his adventures (see Into the Wild). I’m extremely excited about this unit and have decided to continue the tradition of completing the projects with my students. The entire idea is that this book is an assessment of their knowledge as it pertains to poetry, commentary, evidence, credos and precepts, citations, etc. A variety of literary genres should be present within the book.

Below you will find examples of my commonplace book for ideas. Mine is still pretty bare compared to what the final will be. We’re still working on it as I type this!




Tabs for organization.




Pictures of me and some of my favorite quotes.


One of my favorite poems; the description is in the card on the left side.


A “found” poem I assembled.


My Credo and basic explanation in more than two hundred words.


Some of the things I love. Commentary on the left side.

Essential question: Who are you?

Here is the content list that is required for a “C” (average) grade. Students are being required to “WOW” me with their work. Each piece also requires a minimum of a 100 word commentary/explanation if it is not already embedded within the assignment.

  • Cover (designed by student)
  • Title page with original title, name, class period, and date
  • Biographical poem
  • Epigram/Epigraph
  • Reflective essay about a personal pursuit of happiness
  • Bucket list
  • Timeline (at least ten significant events from your lifetime)
  • Significant news even from childhood
  • Favorite poem or song
  • 3-day itinerary
  • Literary piece about future, dreams, hopes, plans…
  • Testimony from a family member, friend, coach, or teacher.
  • Advice to others on “how to live your life”
  • Closing letter that reflects on the project
  • Works cited page

I know that all of the details of this assignment are not currently here and available (I do have a rubric, grade sheet, and packet that goes with this assignment). But, the basics are down (so make it your own!).