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A View of Yourself Through Famous Writers
Grade Level(s): 9-12
By: Brett Heinzman, 11th grade American Literature Tea

This is an icebreaker activity where students have to research famous quotes that in some ways describe themselves.


This is an icebreaker activity where students have to research famous quotes that in some ways describe themselves.


Project One:

Welcome to the first major project of the year! This project will help us know who you are through the words of someone else. You must first decide what makes you tick. You need to consider your family, hobbies, and any other topic you feel makes you what you are. Remember that your project is helping the class to better understand you.

Once you have selected ideas about how to explain yourself, move on to the fun part. Now you need to begin to research famous quotes from: short stories, plays, novels, literature books, or poetry books. The major rule is that these quotes must come from famous writers/authors. They can be foreign or American writers. They can be writers of fiction or nonfiction. The massive world of literature and writing is at your fingertips to enable you to describe yourself.

You may do research at a library or on the Internet. You may even have some favorite books at home that you remember that would be perfect for this project. I suggest referring to a Barlett's Familiar Quotes book to aid in your search. It is very important you get started researching right away. Please pay close attention to the project guidelines and scoring guide.

Project Guidelines:
  1. Please read the scoring guide for this project carefully. The scoring guide has ten categories. You can receive up to 10 points per category for a maximum of 100 points.
  2. I am not interested in you writing a long report. I would rather you find creative and clever ways to present your findings though presentation. You need to read to the class the passages or quotes that describe you then tell us why? I would like for you to be able to explain the "why" without simply reading a report to the class. You will find this will hold the students' attention better.
  3. Those of you who are artistic will find that "A picture can tell a thousand words." You may draw or cutout pictures to help with your explanation of yourself. Some of you might use many pictures with quotes as a "slide show" of who you are.
  4. Those of you who are into drama may choose to dress up in various ways. You may think of this project as a skit of your life through other peoples' words.
  5. Everyone must present his or her project in a 3-5 minute time frame. I would prefer that you do your best to present and not read the project. I know you will have to read the quotes and passages, but try to present the explanation.
  6. Your project grade will be a reflection of how closely you followed the project directions. Any form of creativity you think would make your project standout please add. I reward highly for imagination and insightful thinking. Please take note that the scoring guide includes a category for integrating technology into this project. We will discuss various types of technology that you may choose to use. I have only listed a few of the ways to be creative. Plan and organize a way for us to get to know you. The grade you help will be your own.

You will have no class time to work on this project. Everything will be done outside of class. Do not put this project off until the night before it's due. START NOW!

This project is worth 100 points. (Remember that is equal to an exam) Those of you who struggle on exams, this is your chance to give yourself some cushion.

Project #1 is Due Monday ____________________

Students will be randomly chosen to present their projects. It may take more than one day to present all projects. Everyone should be ready to go on the due date.

Project Scoring Guide:

Each presentation will be graded on the following 10 areas. Each category is worth a maximum of 10 points. 100 points total.

  • 4-A great deal of creativity and original thinking was used.
  • 3-Some original thinking and creativity was used.
  • 2-Very little creativity or original thinking was used.
  • 1-No originality or creativity was used.
Project Organization
  • 4-The project was organized and functioned smoothly.
  • 3-The project had very few problems with organization or functioning.
  • 2-The project had occasional errors in functioning.
  • 1-The project did not function in a smooth manner.
Even Displacement Of Information
  • 4-The presentation's information was wonderfully balanced and flowed in an exceptionally smooth manner.
  • 3-The presentation's information was balanced.
  • 2-The presentation's information was a bit unbalanced.
  • 1-The presentation's information was unclear and unbalanced.
Time Requirements
  • 4-The project met the 3-5 time requirement and used the class time in a most effective manner.
  • 3-The project met the 3-5 minute time requirement.
  • 2-The project was too short. The project was too long.
  • 1-The project was under half the required length.
Classroom Interaction
  • 4-The presentation clearly interacted with the class.
  • 3-The presentation vaguely interacted the class.
  • 2-Some attempt at classroom interaction was made.
  • 1-No attempt at classroom interaction was made.
Use of Outside Quotes/Works
  • 4-Many outside quotes and other topic examples were incorporated into the presentation.
  • 3-Some outside quotes or topic examples were blended into the presentation.
  • 2-An outside quote or a topic example was used.
  • 1-No outside quotes or outside topic examples were used.
  • 4-The research was flawless and thoroughly supported the project.
  • 3-The project's research was accurate and on topic.
  • 2-The project contained some information that was inaccurate or inappropriate.
  • 1-The project contained many pieces of inaccurate or inappropriate information.
  • 4-The presentation integrated various components of technology to enhance and shape the overall design of the project in a most effective manner.
  • 3-The presentation used various forms of technology.
  • 2-The presentation used a single piece of technology.
  • 1-The presentation did not use any form of technology.
  • 4-The presentation was organized and incorporated good project knowledge.
  • 3-The project was fairly organized with fair good knowledge.
  • 2-The project could not be heard or the project was read.
  • 1-The entire project was read to the class. The project could not be heard at all.
  • 4-The presentation used many artistically creative or computer generated visuals in a project-inspiring manner.
  • 3-The presentation used a few visuals to enhance the project.
  • 2-Visuals were weakly designed or too few visuals were used.
  • 1-No visuals were used.
Point Values for scoring
  • 4 = 10.0 points
  • 3 = 9.0 points
  • 2 = 7.5 points
  • 1 = 6.0 points


I love doing this lesson at the very start of the school year.


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