Inspirational Quotes on Education for Back-to-School Responses

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This back-to-school writing lesson can be used to welcome back students in grades 7-12, using a writing prompt that helps set the tone and expectations for writing during the school year.

The following lesson offers the student an opportunity to make a choice in selecting a quote that best matches their own belief about education in an expository response. This lesson also allows the teacher to model how he or she would like students to respond to a quote that is not tied to a specific content area. This also provides teachers an opportunity to learn information about their students and how well they write for a prompt.

Writing Prompt:
Select a quote from the list of quotes below that best matches your own belief about education. Write a response in which you give two or three examples from your own experiences or from real life to support your belief.

Write Aloud Lesson 

A write-aloud lesson is when a teacher models the writing process in front of students in any content area. A write-aloud incorporates a think-aloud, during which a teacher verbalizes his or her thinking for students in order to improve students' understanding of different reading processes as related to writing. The write aloud is an effective research-based strategy for older writers.

Write Aloud Preparation for Teachers

  • Prepare for this lesson by outlining your response before class, so that you can easily draft a response with the class and call attention to your own decision-making while you write. If you are uncomfortable drafting in front of students, prepare the drafts ahead of time, and revise your drafts in front of students.
  • As you write, make verbal statements that describe your own decision-making processes. You can share a view-only version of your document with students to have as a reference. Have students work on their own responses in a Google doc or other collaborative document so students can interact with you.
  • After you have completed the write-aloud in response to the quote, ask students to comment on what they noticed about your thinking during the activity. Ask students to restate what you were thinking about as you wrote the conclusion.
  • You may want to ask students to talk about what seemed to be most important points you wanted to accomplish as you were writing. 

Write Aloud Procedure in Class

This write-aloud lesson is geared for the beginning of the school year. It can be taught to small groups or a whole class in a 10- to 15-minute lesson. The lesson is meant to be a model lesson or demonstration, so the entire process must be seen and heard by students in the class.

PRO TIP: Use a collaborative document, like Google docs, to share examples that you can display on the screen so that students can watch the writing process.

  1. Select one of the quotes about learning and education from the list of twelve quotes below. 
  2. Explain to students that you will be verbalizing your own thinking for them as you write. Ask students to pay attention to the decisions you make as you write, and remind them that they will be producing this same type of text themselves.
  3. Use the quote in the opening sentence and credit the author. 
  4. Point out that this quote means different things to different people.
  5. Ask aloud, “But what does this quote mean to me?”
  6. Start the next sentence with: “As for me….” and explain what you believe the quote means.
  7. State which word you believe is most important in the quote.
  8. Start the next sentence with "The most important word.....” and list two or three examples that will help you talk about the word you chose. These examples will form the organization of the response. These examples should be real-world examples or experiences that you have had related to education.
  9. Each example or experience can be developed into a short paragraph (2-3 sentences).
  10. Summarize your response by looking back at the word chosen and the examples used in the essay draft.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

In the following write-aloud, students can observe how a teacher will work and rework prose in a response to a prompt. Once students watch this demonstration, the teacher can encourage them to talk about their own thinking and decision-making used while they are writing their own responses. 

When a teacher models taking suggestions from students, it helps students become less defensive about their own work. This kind of modeling shows students how to be open to the kind of criticism that improves writing.

Some students may want work with a partner to write their own example.

The length of the response should be modeled in the write-aloud; generally, student response should not be longer than a page.

It is important to establish to students that not all writing should be graded. Rather than grade the students' draft responses, teachers could collect the students' responses at the beginning of the school year and have them revisit the responses again at the conclusion of the school year.

Teachers can use these student responses to assess what skills students already have and to determine what skills will need support during the coming year. 

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Nelson Mandela quote

Student response to quote.

Nelson Mandela: South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
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George Washington Carver quote

Student response to quote.

George Washington Carver: American botanist and inventor; he was born into slavery in Missouri.

"Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."
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John Irving quote

Student response to quote.

John Winslow Irving is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter.

"With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it's like to live in someone else's shoes."
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Martin Luther King quote

Student response to quote.

Martin Luther King Jr.: Baptist minister and social activist, who led the Civil Rights Movement from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
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John Dewey quote

Student response to quote.

John Dewey: American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer.

"We only think when we are confronted with problems."
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Herbert Spenser quote

Student response to quote.

Herbert Spenser:  English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and political theorist of the Victorian era.

"The great aim of education is not knowledge but action."
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Robert Green Ingersoll quote

Student response to quote.

Robert Green Ingersoll: American lawyer, a Civil War veteran, political speaker.

"It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense."
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Robert M. Hutchins quote

Student response to quote.

 Robert M. Hutchins: American educational philosopher, dean of Yale Law School, and president of the University of Chicago.

"The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives."
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Oscar Wilde quote

Student response to quote.

Oscar Wilde: Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet.

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
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Isaac Asimov quote

Student response to quote.

 Isaac Asimov: American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. 

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is."
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Jean Piaget quote

Student response to quote.

 Jean Piaget: a Swiss clinical psychologist known for his pioneering work in child development.

"The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things."
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Noam Chomsky quote

Student response to quote.

Noam Chomsky: American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist.

"The Internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participation in a meaningful society."
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George Eastman quote

Student response to quote.

 George Eastman: American innovator and entrepreneur who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and the use of roll film.

"The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education."