Commonplace Book Project

Other GSE’s Addressed: In dance, music, theatre, visual arts and design, the Commonplace Book Project can be used to respond to Artistic Processes, Cultural Contexts, Communication, and Aesthetic Judgment by allowing you to store original visual arts or written responses to the arts events you attend; to collect quotations about the arts from a variety of sources; to store (as in a scrapbook) clippings from newspaper or blog notices/reviews of arts events you attend; creative/critical responses inspired by attending field trip events; items from performer web sites; photos you take (Caution: many theatres prohibit interior photography or video). Your Commonplace Book is in itself a work of art.


Commonplace Books represent one of the oldest traditions of recording knowledge, collecting wise sayings, and storing ideas for future reference. It is a place for personal writing and reflection without being a diary or a journal or a sketchbook.  Dating from Classical and medieval times, these informal books are often highly personal "scrapbooks" of information, experience, and art that the maker might want to refer to for inspiration in the course of personal, academic, or creative/professional life. Commonplace Books are unique to each individual maker, and while not quite a diary, sketchbook, journal, or notebook, a Commonplace Book often has a theme that guides the odds and ends and artifacts selected and stored by the "Commonplacer!"

Methods / Materials: 
  1. Books for storing your field trip artifacts can be purchased. You may design and make your own original book. You may decide to use a re-purposed book or a digital portfolio. Examples of a purchased book would be a scrapbook or journal. Re-purposed books can be discarded larger magazines, catalogs, sheet music books, old notebooks.
  2. Choose a theme or first "quotation" to get you started such as "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery." (Sir Francis Bacon) BYB field trip events and use your developing Commonplace Book to store items related to your experience.
  3. Add items that reflect other cultural experiences you might have because you attended a field trip, such as dining in a restaurant, or a note about having a conversation with another member of the audience before or after the show.
  4. Search for and include text-based items such as poetry and quotations about the arts. Include quotations about events or from letters to patrons that Artistic Directors often include in program books.
  5. Include quotations from articles that you read about your favorite forms of art in preparation for attending events. Include sketches/drawings inspired by your events.
  6. Include "This field trip event made me think…" reflections.
  7. If you are making a physical book rather than a digital one…make sure to stock up on glue, tape, clips or other art supplies that can help you make an arts Commonplace Book to remember.
  8. Always record your creative ideas that field trips inspire… how would you draw, paint, dance, sing, play an instrument, or act out a scene…if you were the performer on the stage or the director behind the scenes at an Arts Passport event!
  9. Have your Arts Passport Commonplace Book in process to help you with arts proficiency tasks such as generating choreography, analyzing arts performances and arts works from different cultures or historical periods, singing or playing music in a variety of solo and ensemble settings, or analyzing, evaluating, and judging performance and technical/production values in theatre.
Time to Complete: 

This Task is adaptable to a quarter, semester, or full year mini or major extended applied learning task.

Task Type:

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