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Insights from the Intersection of Childhood and Education

Friday, May 18, 2012

Keeping a Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book Cover by 8th grader Leah

Mark Twain had one, Ralph Waldo Emerson had one, and now our 5th - 8th graders have one, too: a commonplace book. The practice of recording what you have read by noting a passage that struck you, and then commenting why it impressed you, has been popular throughout the ages. In a way, a commonplace book is a special kind of journal, and could even be seen as a precursor to blogging.

Student Commonplace Book Entry

Our students have been keeping their own commonplace books for the past few weeks, selecting a minimum of one passage or quotation per week from their independent reading, and writing a paragraph about why they found this passage interesting, engaging, and meaningful to them.

In this way, they are not only encouraged to read and get credit for their reading, but they might have a journal that they can page through many years later and recall those days in middle school, when a book like Hattie Big Sky was fascinating, or the next issue of Sports Illustrated was eagerly awaited.

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