QUOTATIONS Discussion Guide


Have a discussion with your students about quotes in general or about a few specific quotes. Ask questions like the following:


  1. What do you think this quotation means?
  2. What are the most important ideas and values embedded in the quote?
  3. How would you rewrite this quotation if you had to use synonyms of the original words?
  4.  Give a “real life” example of what this quote is about.
  5. What circumstances do you think prompted the speaker to say this?
  6. Why do you suppose this quotation is famous or at least notable?
  7. If this quote doesn’t apply to you directly, what kind of person or situation would it apply to?
  8.  Is there something you can learn from this quote about how you should live your life?
  9. How would the world be different if everyone lived by this quotation?
  10. How would the world be different if no one lived by this quotation?
  11. Is this quote realistic or idealistic?


QUOTATIONS Activity Ideas


1.      Have students find five quotes about one topic, such as honesty or success, or about one of the Six Pillars.

2.       Have students research and write a short biography of the person who said their favorite quote.

3.      Have students rewrite five quotes using language a 10-year-old could understand.

4.      Use a quotation as a journal prompt at the beginning (or end) of class. Students can then pick out their favorite journal entry to expand into a full essay.

5.      Have students find and explain one quote that uses a simile and one that uses a metaphor.

6.      Give students the first part of a quote and have them think of different endings. For example, “Most folks are about as happy as ... _________.” (The original quote, from American president Abraham Lincoln, ends with “they make up their minds to be.”)

7.      List 10 quotes for students and have them rank the quotes in order of how meaningful they would be to a child, a teenager, a parent, or an old person.

8.      Select a quotation and write it on the board. Have students copy it, write what it means in their own words, and give an example from their own lives.

9.      As a twist on the traditional “current events” assignment, have students select a quote that relates to the news story and explain why it is relevant to that current event.

10.  Have students organize a list of quotes by the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship). Ask them to explain how each quote relates to the Pillar category in which they placed it.

11.  Assign a group of three or four students a particular maxim and have them prepare a one- to two-minute skit to illustrate the essential message of the quotation..

12.  Cut the quotes into strips of paper and have students draw a quote from a box. For homework, express the message of the quote in a poster, poem, essay, or song.


Adapted from “Foundations for Life” Teacher’s Resource Guide, published by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. Materials available at www.FFL-essays.org