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I have found this introductory writing exercise to be most beneficial at the start of each school year. It not only introduces me to my students (their personalities, their strengths, their needs, ect.), but also puts them at ease in the writing world.
The idea here is to take the major literary works to be studied, post quotations from the works, and have students respond in letter form (to the teacher) to a favorite quotation. Although the directions ask for one full page, I am often treated to far more content!
The download represents quotations from the following literary works: The Stranger by Albert Camus, Hamlet by Shakespeare, Dante's Inferno, Dubliners by James Joyce, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Teachers may use the document AS IS or choose quotations from the district's curriculum.
I have used the exercise successfully as both an in-class assignment and a homework assignment.