Desideratum

The assignment that students enjoy writing most is the personal desideratum – a core belief, code or philosophy that one deliberately lives by and uses to guide one actions.  This assignment is the final assessment to John Krakauer’s Into the Wild.  Students have to communicate their core philosophy, but, more importantly, they have to communicate the narratives of how that philosophy was formed and shaped, and who assisted in the process.

Grade Level/Age: 10th grade (15-16 years)

Curriculum Addressed: Critical thinking, analytical reasoning, persuasive writing and personal narrative writing.

Process Goals: After reading John Krakauer’s Into the Wild, students must clearly identify one core belief, code or philosophy that they live by.  In a personal narrative, students must explain – exactly – what this desideratum means to them, how it deliberately guides them, how such a belief was learned, fostered and developed, and how they actually practice this philosophy with personal examples.

Materials: John Krakauer’s Into the Wild

Desired Understandings: Students will continue to home their critical thinking, analytical reasoning, persuasive writing and personal narrative writing skills as they explore shared connections between personal experience and a literary text.

Procedure:

  1. Students read and discuss John Krakauer’s Into the Wild.
  2. Students enter into a conversation on how they live deliberately.  Through prewriting, students consider what conscious choices they make in building relationships, in prioritizing what’s important, in working towards goals and dreams, and the way they choose to live life uniquely?
  3. Students clearly identify one core belief, code or philosophy that falls under the categories above.  Students explain – exactly – what this desideratum means, how it deliberately guides them, how such a belief was learned, fostered and developed, and how they actually practice this philosophy with personal examples.
  4. Students revise, edit, and rewrite through a peer workshop.
  5. Students create a final draft for submission.
  6. For enrichment, I have asked students to express their desideratum through an artistic form other than personal narrative.  An artistic statement accompanies students’ art projects.

Standards:

Standard 2: Reading for All Purposes

  1. Literary and historical influences determine the meaning of traditional and contemporary literary texts. 

Standard 3:  Writing and Composition

  1. Literary or narrative genres feature a variety of stylistic devices to engage or entertain an audience.
  2. Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience.
  3. Grammar, language usage, mechanics, and clarity are the basis of ongoing refinements and revisions within the writing process.

Assessment:  I use our English Department’s AP extended composition writing rubric to grade students’ personal narratives.  

Adaptions/Accommodations:  I expect all students to do their best in completing the assignment.  I adapt the length of the final draft as needed.