Quotes can be inspirational and motivational; and they can also be used as a mini or a long lesson for students in any learning environment. For example, you can choose a quote containing information as it relates to the students you teach, within their own learning environment. Moral stories. Also, funny quotes about society in the author’s timeframe are fabulous to work with. In my experience, students enjoy wit and sarcasm (once the realization happens that it is sarcasm!). Begin the day analyzing a nicely chosen, famous quote. It can really put the students in a positive mood to begin their school day. This is the reason the quotes themselves must be chosen carefully by the teacher.
I receive a quote each day through my email because I am subscribed to 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 or not; and the quote must require students to use critical thinking skills. That is an absolute requirement.
I find my 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 do 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.
Think about 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. Document their findings. Classroom management skills required: monitor students by walking around all desks, listening to conversations. Are students on task? Take anecdotal notes. What question can you ask to redirect students, if necessary? Students will be moving. Students will be talking among partners or small groups at a proper to slightly elevated noise level. It is to be expected.
Students will use prior knowledge, analyze evidence, cite evidence, and conclude what it means to the student individually. Document in 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 was in. Incorporate technology and use momentarily a search engine, and discover who the author was or is. Document through pictures or video on a weekly basis in order 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-directed interaction in large groups is so exciting!
Most of us know who this is:
Dr Seuss and his famous quotes, throughout his lifetime, between 1904 and 1991. 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? Using Dr Seuss as an example, remember to switch it up as much as possible for the best use of critical thinking skills. Also, remember that the students like whimsical quotes as well and are almost a puzzle to figure out and have an intelligible message that is important for students to hear. Do keep a ‘Famous Quotes and Their Meanings’ journal or notebook in order to document along the way. Let students know they may take home at the end of the school year – a whole year of inspiration!
Check with your school Principal and seek answers from GoodReads. Perhaps your students may also ‘like’ quotes on GoodReads as a member with a 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 per requirement, and choose genres to explore. Very PG rated. Students will have rules that you create together. Whether in elementary school, middle school, or high school, students will thrive on their own success when accountability is necessary. They have freedom of 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 quotes that did influence the country in many ways, for example, 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 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 a half an hour, or to begin one morning and finish the next. You choose how to incorporate famous quotes in your learning environment. There are many famous, inspirational, and motivational quotes available online, used as resources for the Educator. 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. 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 appropriate to their age and reading level. For younger students, dictate what students have to offer, applying it to GoodReads as a classrom page and profile. It is all up to you! Movement is good! Expressive voices are good! 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 with quotes to fit into each and every classroom, with students of all ages. And remember, before GoodReads can be incorpated into a learning environment, check to make sure it is allowed and encouraged by the powers that be!