SchoolJournalism.org

Categorizing Quotes

John Deyab
Charlestown High School
Boston, Massachusetts

Overview:
Quotes can be very useful in a feature story to demonstrate how people behave, what they think, what they feel. The placement of quotes in a story directly affects a reader’s interest in the story. This lesson is to show how the placing of quotes in a story can affect, positively and negatively, the quality of the writing and the ultimate impact it has on the reader.

Goal:
Students will learn how the placement of quotes in a story directly affects the reader’s interest. Students will further learn that quotes which are sequenced incorrectly [minimal logic employed in the usage of quotes] detract from a story’s power, impact, focus.

Procedure:

  • Teacher chooses a feature story from a local newspaper. Story should contain at least two subjects, and eight quotes.
  • As a class, teacher asks students to identify all the quotes in the article.
  • After all identified, students “rate” the quotes into “Most Important” to “Least Important”. (“Most important” can be defined as a quote that provides major insight into some aspect of the story, and is extremely illuminating with the “most important” being No. 1 and the least important the highest number (No. 8, or whatever).
  • Teacher tallies students’ votes for each quote.
  • After the tally, the students will agree on “Most Important” and “Least Important” the teacher reads the story in inverted order, with the “Most Important” quote being placed in the article where the “Least Important” had been placed, and the “Least Important” is placed where the “Most Important” had been placed.
  • After this activity, teacher facilitates class discussion about the importance of placing quotes appropriately in sequence in a story.

Assessment: [Homework]

  • Students are to choose an article from the local newspaper that interests them and perform the same task as performed in class.
  • The article should contain at least two subjects and eight quotes.
  • After they have rewritten the story in reverse ordering of quotes, (“Most Important” placed where “Least Important” had been, etc., then they should write one paragraph explaining what they have learned about the placement of quotes in a newspaper story.)
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