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Quotes can be inspirational and motivational; they can also be used as a mini or a long lesson for students in any learning environment. Begin the day or end the day analyzing a nicely chosen, famous quote. It can put the students in a good mood to begin their day or end their school day on a thoughtful or positive note. This is the reason that quotes themselves must be chosen carefully by the teacher. For example, you can choose a quote containing information as it relates to the students you teach about their own learning environment and make it an authentic experience. Choices also include: oral mini-stories within a quote, satirical or funny quotes, quotes about society as seen through the eyes of the author during their lifetime, controversial quotes, quotes from the youngest of authors, and quotes using wit and sarcasm can be fun and exciting – once the realization that it is ‘sarcasm’, as defined by your students, the reaction is phenomenal. Using quotes in the classroom allows for critical thinking, analytical thought, and deep comprehension if you plan your lessons well.
I receive a quote each day through my email because I enjoy reading famous quotes on Goodreads (in the form of an email) which states the quote and gives a mini bio on the author. The quotes arrive each morning in my inbox, and I can immediately tell if it will make me think, but even more so, I have to decide if it will make students think. That’s when I decide if lessons can be created from the quote and if the quote requires students to use critical thinking skills.
I find my own daily quotes to be inspirational and motivational, and they help me to use my cognitive skills at a higher level of thought, first thing in the morning. Can I analyze it? Can I give evidence from the quote that will help me understand the author’s intention? Can I support my claims of the author’s intention by providing evidence from the text? Are the authors using wit or sarcasm? What year would students think it was written? So many critical, open-ended questions, and so many possible directions where discussions could lead. All the while, using critical thinking skills. The quotes sent to me daily from Goodreads are chosen as that day’s quote for a reason: because they make you think.
Look back to the Helen Keller quote at the beginning of my first blog post. Primarily, students first must decipher the intent, and then brainstorm possible meanings of the quote. It is always better to have someone to bounce ideas off in the classroom; students are expected to work collaboratively. With that in mind, students will casually break into small groups or at least partners and document their findings. Classroom management skills required: watch students by walking around all desks, listening to conversations. Are students on task? Take anecdotal notes. What questions can you ask in case you need to redirect students? Students will be moving. Students will be talking among partners or small groups at a proper to a slightly raised noise level. It is to be expected. Movement and an increased volume are actually important to the lesson.
Students will use prior knowledge, analyze evidence, cite evidence, and conclude what it means to the student individually. Document in a famous quotes notebook or journal. Finally, choose a student to direct the end of the lesson. Students can work together to graph all meanings. Directions: Any questions asked will be open-ended. Direct students to think about the person who wrote a particular quote and what conditions or environment the author were in. Incorporate technology and use a search engine to discover who the author is or was if they have passed. Document highlights through pictures or a video on a weekly basis to share. Put the quote on a timeline for history’s sake parallel to the author’s life span. What was going on around the world during that particular time period? How is this quote significant to us today in our everyday lives? And, how may we apply this message towards our future? Student-centered interaction in small and large groups is so exciting!
Most of us know who this is:
Dr. Seuss, throughout his lifetime – between 1904 and 1991 – was quoted many times because he was concise, entertaining, and he made you think. He happened to be speaking of the value of confidence in this particular quote. Do you see how this could be a quote for students to analyze? Remember to switch it up as much as possible, keeping in mind your how best to incorporate student’s critical thinking skills. Also, students like whimsical quotes, as well quotes which are almost a puzzle to figure out. Use quotes that have an intelligible message that is important for students to hear. Do keep a ‘Famous Quotes and Their Meanings’ journal or classroom notebook to document along the way – a whole year of inspiration!
Check with your school Principal or the powers that be, and seek answers from Goodreads. Perhaps your students may also ‘like’ quotes on Goodreads as a member with a profile or at least a classroom profile. Students are able to put books on their ‘shelves’ easily labeling them as Education, Want to Read, Read, Favorites, or whatever labels the students choose. They may choose their favorite books, follow authors, friend each other, and choose genres to explore. Very G rated. Students will have rules that you create together, closely monitoring in such a lesson. Whether in elementary school, middle school, or high school, students will thrive on their own success when accountability is necessary. They have freedom in choice of books. To own their own page? Which is, of course, their profile, they can offer tidbits of information about themselves, and be proud of what they created. They can also message friends about new books they have been introduced to, they can give recommendations as an assignment, and this also happens to be a good way for students to learn about famous authors or the people behind the quotes. Authors are not just a name on a book. Research famous authors that did influence the country in many ways, as before, Dr. Seuss. He had a purpose, he was not only entertaining to children, but to adults as well, with his giant vocabulary, a gift for making you laugh and think at the same time, and a creative mind that explored scientific and societal ideas well before their time (example – The Lorax).
So much to discover! It’s up to you to make this a morning routine wrapped up in ten minutes, or an end of the day lesson, or to begin one in morning to let students think about it throughout their day, and then finish it as the last lesson of their day. You choose how to merge famous quotes into your learning environment. There are many famous, inspirational, and motivational quotes available online used as resources for the Educator. You only need to enter into a search engine ‘famous quotes in the classroom’ and you will find many resources leading you to educational quotes. I am actually trying to figure out how to legally share URL’s or links to resources involving famous quotes here on my site. Like I said, I am still learning :). Even join Goodreads yourself to explore possibilities. For a personal effect, share quotes with meaning to your own education or life, and tell students why. This makes it more personable and meaningful for students.
However you decide you would like to use quotes in your learning environment? Make it interesting, make it meaningful, and make sure that the students are engaged utilizing critical thinking skills proper to their age and reading level. For younger students, dictate what students have to offer, applying it to Goodreads as a classroom page and profile. It is all up to you. Movement is good. Expressive voices are excellent. Keep that in mind when choosing a quote and how to use it in your schedule with students. If you choose morning routine, you will want your students to enjoy a positive experience as it is the morning activity; if their day did not start right at home, you can help to do so with a positive lesson. Additionally, accommodations can be made for a quotes lesson or activity to fit into each and every classroom, any time of the school day, with students of all ages. And remember, before Goodreads can be incorporated into a learning environment, check to make sure it is allowed and encouraged by the powers that be in your learning environment.