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The Power of the Quote

A friend of mine recently attended an honor’s assembly at his son’s school. As one part of the program, each member of the senior class shared a quote that had special significance for him/her. As something of a collector of quotes, I thought this was a great idea. Why shouldn’t we use the words of others to help us define ourselves and our beliefs?


But how can quotes be used in the classroom? Here a just a few ideas:

Quote of the Day - OK, this is a no-brainer as a warm-up for class but have you ever noticed the types of quotes some teachers use? Often they have no link to the day’s lesson. Often they are written in such arcane language that students can’t really relate to them. If you’re looking for something a little different, consider the unique quotes that might really get our students thinking and writing. Instead of the traditional Benjamin Franklin quotes, how about quotes from a popular movie or a movie from your era? Pull a quote from the daily newspaper or a late-night comedian. Use a quote from a song your students know.

Get Ready to Meet the Character - This pre-reading activity will help students get ready to meet a character. Start by choosing several quotes from the character. Students may work independently, with a partner or in a small group to generate as many words as possible that could describe the character based on their quote(s) provided. Have each group share their descriptions and begin to look for similarities and differences among the responses. Lead students in a discussion of how they came to these generalizations. This discussion could be followed by a brief written character profile. Students can use the generated list or their profile as a reading guide to determine if their ideas about the character were correct.

This same strategy is useful when studying famous historical figures. What better way to introduce students to Mohandas Gandhi than by his words?

Compare/Contrast – Have students use a quote with which they either strongly agree or disagree as the basis for an argumentative essay or debate.

Character Predictions - Given a set of quotes from a fictional character, have students write a conversation that could have taken place between that character and another. This activity requires students to stay within the voice already established in the writing and can be quite challenging.

Defining Yourself - As a way of checking-in to class, ask students to periodically share a quote that holds significance for them. This discussion starter could provide great insight into what is happening in your students’ lives.

You’ll find plenty of sites on the internet devoted solely to quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:

Quote of the day:

http://www.quotationspage.com/qotd.html

Funny quotes about school:

http://quotations.about.com/od/funnyquotes/a/funnyquotes1.htm

Quotes from movies:

http://thinkexist.com/quotations/movies/

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