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The Literate Learner Featured Article of the Week

Quote of the Day

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by Steve Gardiner
November 25, 2015

As much as students say they want to do something different, their actions show they actually want a pattern, a framework to hold onto each day in class.

For example, two years ago, I started using a Quote of the Day to begin the lesson portion of each class. We did this for a few weeks, then one day, I was running behind and left the quote out. I spent the day hearing the question, “Where is our Quote of the Day?” I wasn't sure they were listening to the quote or even cared that it was there, until I skipped it. Then I learned.


It is an easy addition to the class and can be used to support the lesson in a number of ways. It can be a quote from the current author we are reading, another view of a topic we are discussing, a seasonal thought, or a random inspirational or philosophical idea. I mix it up, and it gives us a point to launch into the day's discussion.


It is easy to find enough quotes for a school year. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of web sites with quotes and many quotation books exist in any library. Some books and web sites specialize in certain subjects and others provide a spectrum of quotable materials. Some web sites that are easy to use are:


Brainy Quote-This site features quotes and are grouped by topic, author, and several others ways.


Famous Quotes and Authors-The quotes on this site are grouped by topic.


Quotes of the Day—This site features a small group of quotes selected each day.


The quotes could be written on the board, mounted on posters, or simply read aloud in class. I have an interactive white board in my class, so I take advantage of its features. I post the quote at the top of a blank page, then do a second Google search to find an illustration to go with it. I can usually find a good photo of the author and will sometimes use an additional photo if there is a place or object that might support it. A few weeks ago, I chose a quote from Picasso, so I had a portrait of him along with one of his paintings. Students enjoy seeing the authors of the quotes and additional items like paintings or related photos often bring out extra commentary from the students.


Because I begin each class period with silent reading, students are often already reading by the time I finish taking roll. I don't interrupt them for the Quote of the Day, but let them read first. When we break from reading, I reveal the quote on the interactive whiteboard and read it aloud. We exchange comments on it, tie it to the lesson if appropriate, then go on with the discussion or lesson for the day. The quote seems to be a good transition from the quiet time of reading to the thinking and speaking that will take place during the classroom lesson.


It only takes me two minutes to set it up each day and one minute to apply it during the class, but it is a pivoting point students can count on each day to mark our movement through the structure of each class, and if I pick the quotes well, they provide a moment of inspired conversation and kick off our interaction with each other.

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