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This is the second in our series that is attempting to provide ideas to use for remote learning during the current pandemic and beyond. These are simple activities that can be used in a variety of ways, and our goal is to provide everything you need to take and run with it.

Using Quotes for Response Writing

One of our writers used to take his favorite quotes and print each one on a separate page then wallpaper a whole wall in his classroom with them. There would be a weekly bellringer asking students to simply pick a quote and respond to it. There was always a time to share (voluntary, of course). 

It was great to see who chose which quote. Sometimes it was quite revealing.  There could be so many different responses, perspectives, and interpretations of any single quote.

Some of the quotes were silly and led to uproarious laughter.

Some were painfully tragic and allowed students to open up about difficult experiences.

Many were inspirational (as a matter of fact, one former student of this teacher shares his favorite quote that he learned from this activity with his own students in his own physics classroom now).

This idea could easily be used in remote learning allowing for many variations. 

Students could be given a quote a day (or weekly), they could be given the option to choose from 2-5, or a long list could be shared using a creative platform (maybe even a virtual wall-papered classroom wall).

They could be asked to write (or draw) a simple 3-5 sentence response: What does it make you think of? Who does it make you think of? What character from a book or movie might say something like this and why? Explain how this quote makes you feel.

Students could use the quote to inspire a persuasive or expository essay with the option of including the quote in the essay itself.

Using Quotes as Mentor Texts

Another way quotes could be used is as a tool to study and practice stylistic writing. 

Select a quote that really expresses a depth of meaning and emotion through the stylistic techniques of the writer.

Ask students to explain what the tone of the quote is. How could it have been expressed in a more simple fashion? What makes it so meaningful and powerful? How is punctuation used for dramatic effect? Do they break any grammatical rules? Do you think they did so on purpose? What effect does that have?

Then ask students to try and create a unique sentence using the quote as a pattern (same number of words, same order of types of words, same punctuation). Students could even share their original sentences in a discussion board, a live Google Doc, or virtual class meeting.

Some of Our Favorite Quotes

There are countless resources out there for finding good quotes, but we wanted to provide you with some good ones so you don’t have to go searching.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

- Mark Twain

“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

- Mark Twain

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

- Mark Twain

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”

- Henry C. Link

“If you think education is expensive -- try ignorance.”

- Derek Bok 

(Harvard president)

“I discovered the “something” in “nothing.”

- Barbra Streisand

“If A is success in life,

then A equals X plus Y plus Z.

Work is X,

Y is play,

and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

- Albert Einstein

“Shallow men believe in luck.  Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

- Thomas Alva Edison

“To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.”

- Ken Keyes, Jr.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.”

- M.H. Anderson

“Progress always involves risk.  You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”

- F.B. Wilcox

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  It goes on.”

- Robert Frost

“Why am I crying after love?”

- Sara Teasdale

“Where I was born and where and how I have been is unimportant.  It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

- Georgia O’Keeffe

“If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

“No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”

- Booker Taliaferro Washington

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

- Walter Bagehot

“In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read ... It is true we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”

- S.I. Hayakawa

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

- Sir Richard Steele

“How can you write if you don’t cry?”

- Ring Lardner

“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.”

- Danish Proverb

 “We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.”

- Native American saying

 “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

- Abraham Lincoln

 “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”

- Voltaire

“This above all; to thine own self be true, 

And it must follow, as the night the day,

 Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

- William Shakespeare

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.”

- Helen Keller

“I take it to be a principal rule of life not to be addicted to any one thing.”

- Terence

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

- Andre Gide

“ Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel.  He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”

- Mark Twain

“If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave.  The moment he does more than is required, he becomes a free man.”

A.W. Robertson

”know thyself.”


“Character is destiny.”

- Aristotle

“There is beauty in everybody.  You are born with it. It’s just a matter of what you do with it, and if you lose it, it’s like losing your soul.”

- Francesco Scavallo

“May you live all the days of your life.”

- Jonathan  Swift

“To leave is to die a little;

To die to what we love.

We leave behind a bit of ourselves,

Wherever we have been.”

- Edmund Haraucourt

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

- Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde

“When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.”

- Confucius

“Sooner or later every one of us breathes an atom that has been breathed before by anyone you can think of who has lived before us -- Michelangelo or George Washington or Moses.”  

- Jacob Bronowski

“Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning.  The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligent quotient.”

- Eugene Wilson

“ Rule #1 :  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Rule #2 :  It’s all small stuff.”

- Dr. Michael Mantell

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

- Carl Jung

Love is friendship set on fire.
- Jeremy Taylor –

Came but for friendship, and took away love.
- Thomas Moore –

To laugh often and love much…to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self…this is to have succeeded.

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly, and without expectation…We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.

  • Leo Buscaglia

We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place in ourselves for those who love us.

  • Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough."
...Regina, age 10

"For twas not into my ear you whispered but into my heart. Twas not my lips you kissed, but my soul." --Judy Garland

"Doubt the stars are fire. Doubt the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love." --William Shakespeare

"To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is Angelic." --Alphonse De Lamartine

"I love thee with all thy breath, smiles, tears of all my life." --Elizabeth Barret Browning

"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out." --Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within." --James Baldwin

"Only two kinds of people can talk without inhibitions- strangers or lovers. Everyone in between is just negotiating." --James Grippando

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." –Aristotle

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." --Emily Bronte

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” -Oscar Wilde

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” -Oscar Wilde

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” -Oscar Wilde

“In this world there are only two tragedies.  One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” -Oscar Wilde

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” -Oscar Wilde

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