After we complete our opening lesson on copyright, fair use, and public domain, and since the idea of giving credit where credit is due is still fresh in their minds, we next dovetail into our lesson on citing sources.
While it may seem out of sequence--as most teachers address plagiarism and paraphrasing before anything else--I like to teach citations before we tackle the concept of note-taking. As I just mentioned, it's a natural extension of the copyright lesson and the idea of resisting the temptation to take what's not yours. I also think it sets the precedent that citing sources as you find them is crucial. All too often, students find information, note it, and then move on. Then, the works cited page becomes an afterthought--something they'll assemble when the research paper is finished. As we all know from experience (having made that same mistake ourselves when we were young and dumb), this is a baaaaad idea. Trying to locate research sources after the fact is like trying to herd cats: you'll end up frustrated, angry, and wondering why you even tried in the first place.
Most of you will agree that source citation is a very abstract and outdated idea to our students, and trying to make it relevant to them goes over like a pregnant pole-vaulter. (I'm really full of figurative language today. Sorry.) More often than not, student demand to know why anyone would care or even want the minutia of the details involved in citation. However, saying, "Because that's the way it's done" isn't the most clarifying of answers, and that's why you might want to read this extremely helpful post by K-M the Librarian. She makes the analogy that citations are the addresses where the resources reside, and without them, the reader is left with a set of very unclear directions.
Of course, if that analogy doesn't work, I always kindly point out to my students that if I can't read their "address" and get to the correct destination, then it will most definitely affect my "rating" of their "mapping" services. That always seems to drive home the point. :-)
Research Chunk #2
How to Teach Citation of Sources
- Before you do anything, have students come to class with some understanding of the citation process. Assign this short video for homework the night before you teach the lesson.
- In class the next day, provide a brief quiz to show student understanding of the material.
- Share with students this SlideShare presentation by K-M the Librarian in which she uses the address analogy to explain the importance of citing sources. (If you can't access the slideshow from the link above, view it directly from her site.)
- Show this sample of an MLA Works Cited page and discuss with students, clarifying and taking questions.
- Teach students how to use EasyBib, an online citation maker. Walk them through a few examples with different media.
- If time permits, there's a great hands-on activity to try called Conquer Citation Chaos Kits. This could be used to have students show a cursory understanding of citations.
- If you have the facilities and the technology to do so, this lesson plan from EasyBib works great for students in grades 6-8. I have the teams travel with a laptop in which they've created and saved a Word document to be used as their works cited page.
- For students in grades 3-5, this lesson plan from Common Sense Media provides a less overwhelming overview of the process of citing.
- And because I'm a big fan of the game-ification of education, I love to play MLA Master Blaster with the students to round out the lesson. We do it together so I can check for understanding.
- For individual practice, students can play MLA Drag and Drop with a partner.
- They can also practice and learn on their own with Citation Tic Tac Toe. I encourage students to continue playing until they've learned from their mistakes and mastered the formatting questions. Click the "Click to Play" button to get started.
- For homework, assign a website, a book, and a magazine article for students to cite using EasyBib. Direct them to put this list of sources into proper citation style format for a bibliography/works cited page by using this reference guide or their citation style guides. They should create their own works cited page from the information provided.
- Citing online images is just as important as citing reference works, too, so a separate mini-lesson should be imparted in that regard, and this again is a natural extension of the first "chunk" of this unit. If you scroll down to the "Picture Citations" heading on this site, students will get a clear idea of what information they should record. Show students how to search for fair use images using this helpful, informative guide from Google. An image interactive from EasyBib will help them cite their web graphics. To make it easier on my students, I direct them to visit my Symbaloo site with a plethora of links to public domain websites for images, video, and audio.
- When all is said and done, after the research has been compiled and just before students submit their final work, I have them complete this citation checklist.
- Remind your students to keep a running works cited document in Word as they research and to immediately copy and paste the bibliographic information from EasyBib as soon as they record a note from a source.
Like anything, this is going to take practice, so be patient with yourself and with your students. Students have quite a bit of trouble citing their sources (or even remembering to) because they're not familiar with citation style guides, and because they haven't had much practice. To ease their stress, it's not a bad idea to collect and comment on their works cited rough drafts in the middle of the research process so that they can make the necessary corrections and learn from your feedback.
I'm always open to new ideas when it comes to how to teach citation to students, so if you have any resources that work for you, please share!
Image via LiMSwiki