Quotes in the Classroom

Quotes in the Classroom

Inspirational quotes are abundant on social media. As we scroll though our lives, they offer wisdom and motivation.  Recently, a “quote activity” caught my attention with its ability to create and maintain online conversation.  Engaged participants were thinking about, discussing, and interpreting various quotes.  It was introduced as follows:

“Post a movie quote that gives away the film without saying the title.”

For example, “To infinity . . . and beyond!” is a quote from the movie Toy Story. “There’s no place like home.” is from The Wizard of Oz.  “You’re going to need a bigger boat” is from . . . 

Like a great classroom prompt, friends eagerly responded and began challenging each other.  They posted movie quotes, debated the quality of the movies, and enlivened the conversation with obscure movie facts. 

Their online conversations made me wonder how and why certain movie quotes become memorable.  Do only classic movies have memorable quotes?  Are some quotes more significant to those of certain generations?  Doesn’t everyone agree with Ferris Bueller’s quote, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”?

My friend’s movie post could be adapted for the classroom as a device for a lively literature activity and discussion.  Working in groups, students compile and/or ask others for their favorite book quotes.  After the quotes have been compiled and shared, each group selects their top ten quotations to share with the other students.  Can students name the titles of the books based on the quotes? Extend and enrich the activity by discussing the following: 

  • Do any of the quotes inspire you to read (or reread) the book?  Why? 
  • Explain what the quote tells us about the character or the situation. 
  • How do these quotes connect to our own lives? 
  • Is there a particular quote that resonates with you?  Why? 

Encourage the students to use their creativity to create a collaborative quote journal/collage, or an inspirational bulletin board.  The quote journal/bulletin board can be used for future activities that promote engaging conversation, personal reflection, and a love of literature. 


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Using Visual Data to Engage and Inspire

Visual Data Postcard of Email Usage

McDaniel College student's data postcard

One of the defining features of 21st century life is the prevalence of data.  Whether it is the complexity of Google algorithms or the simplicity of a Fitbit’s measurements, data is everywhere.  Standing at the center of this data vortex is . . . you.  The activities that comprise our daily lives are what give meaning to the data.

Visual information designers Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec see data as a creative material like paint or paper. Their engaging book, Dear Data, depicts how they became friends by revealing to one another details of their daily lives. Every week, for a year, they sent each other postcards describing the details of their lives. But they didn’t write about their lives, they drew it.  “Every Monday we chose a particular subject on which to collect data about ourselves for the whole week:  how often we complained, or the times when we felt envious; when we came into physical contact and with whom; the sounds we heard around us.  We then created a drawing representing this data on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and dropped the postcard into an English post box (Stefanie) or an American mail box (Giorgia). 

Dear Data:  A Friendship in 52 weeks of Postcards

Inspired by the book, students at McDaniel College collected and visually presented data associated with their “ordinary” lives and created a visual data timeline.  Like the book, their depicted activities capture patterns and creativity in even “the smallest details of our lives.” 


Finding and visually displaying data is an excellent project for students of all ages, from elementary students to graduate students. Using data to quantify the self will interest students because they can choose which data set to explore and collect.  Critical and creative thinking skills combine as they consider the best way to visually represent the information.  It’s an excellent project-based learning activity because students learn more about themselves as they explore the world around them.  To learn more, visit dear-data.com

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Research in Brief:  Rethinking Stress

Rethinking Stress to Help Young People Excel

Life is filled with stressors big and small.  For example, today I am stressed about my refrigerator.  It has been making strange sounds.  We cannot always predict how life is going to unfold, and incidents beyond our control change our daily lives.  (The fridge just made that strange sound again!) 

Like adults, young people experience stress too.  Making friends, doing well in school, and wearing the “right” clothes are just a few of the pressures young people face. 

Fortunately, new research shows that changing our minds about stress can make us healthier and happier.  In her engaging book, The Upside of Stress:  Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, Kelly McGonigal, shares information about why our beliefs about stress matter along with strategies to change the way we think about stress.

Many of the studies she shares are from the new field of mindset science.  (Mindsets are beliefs that shape your reality.)  She highlights successful mindset interventions, including one conducted at a low-income high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Researcher, David Yeager, wanted to teach freshman a growth mindset – the belief that people can change in significant ways.  He had students read an article that introduced the following ideas: 

“Who you are now is not necessarily who you will be later in life; how people treat you or see you now is not necessarily a sign of who you really are or who you will be in the future; people’s personalities can change meaningfully over time.”

Students also read upperclassmen’s accounts of change and wrote about their own experiences of how people could change. 

This thirty-minute intervention resulted in “students who were more optimistic and less overwhelmed by the problems in their lives. They had fewer health problems and were less likely to become depressed than students who had been randomly assigned to a control group.  A full 81 percent of the students who received the intervention passed their ninth-grade algebra class, compared with only 58 percent of students in the control group.” 

Learning how mindsets can affect student performance helps both parents and teachers provide ways for young people to excel. The Upside of Stress shows how rethinking our beliefs can change aspects of our lives – for the better.  


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Recent Reads

Newbery Medal Winner 2017:  The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Barnhill, Kelly.  The Girl Who Drank the Moon.  Algonquin, 2016. 
Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal

A witch lives in the forest, and the people of the Protectorate fear her.  They have taken steps to never see her, with terrible consequences.  But the witch in the forest is kind, as is her child, Luna, whose magic is more powerful than anything.
Ages 10+

Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell

Hruby Powell, Patricia. Pictures by Christian Robinson.  Josephine.  Chronicle Books, 2014.  
Coretta Scott King Book Award, Illustrator, Honor
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, Honor
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Nonfiction Honor

Overcoming racism and poverty, Josephine danced and sang to her own beat.  Audiences clapped and cheered.  In Paris, she became a star!  This incredible woman even became a spy for the French resistance and adopted 12 children – all from different countries. 
Ages 10+

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

Reynolds, Jason.  As Brave as You.  Atheneum, 2016. 
Schneider Family Book Award Winner
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Brothers Ernie and Genie must spend a month in rural Virginia with their grandparents.  As they learn more about their family and the new surroundings, it becomes clear “they’re both in for big surprises.” 
Ages 10+

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Wenzel, Brendan.  They All Saw a Cat.  Chronicle Books, 2016.
2017 Caldecott Honor Book

As a cat walks through the world, many sets of eyes see the cat.  Perspective shapes what they see in unique ways.

Ages 3-10

This is the Rope:  A Story From the Great Migration

Woodson, Jacqueline.  Illustrations by James Ransome.  This is the Rope:  A Story from the Great Migration.  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013.


For three generations, a piece of rope is passed down to serve many purposes –  a jumprope, a clothesline, a means of tying down suitcases, etc.  Linking family memories, the rope retains the past while embracing the future. 
Ages 5-10. 


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For more recent reads, click here. 

The Wonder of Snow on a Forever Stamp

The Wonder of Snow on a Forever Stamp

Ezra Jack Keats’ joyful picture book, The Snowy Day, will be honored on a set of postage stamps later this year.  The U.S. Postal Service will showcase four stamps of “main character Peter exploring and playing in his neighborhood while wearing his iconic red snowsuit.” 

The Snowy Day remains one of the most beloved and influential children’s picture books.  It is a Caldecott Award-winning classic that transports readers into a snowy world of wonder.  Published during the 1960s civil-rights era, the story focuses on Peter and his adventures in the season’s first snowfall.  Although Peter’s race is never directly addressed, his portrayal is recognized as a milestone in racial representation, and he becomes the first African-American protagonist in a full-color children's picture book. 


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Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity



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