Put Some Excitement into Citations!

As an English teacher, I struggled to teach my students to use MLA citations.  Why?  Students didn’t see the need for citing.  They failed to understand its purpose and if students don’t comprehend the purpose of a task, they often don’t put forth their best efforts to accomplish it.

In South Carolina, tenth graders take the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) test during their spring semester.  As part of the ELA section, the research questions can include the proper form for MLA citations.  So, although I prefer to use citation generators like BibMe and KnightCite, I know that our students need practice in creating citations to prepare them for THE TEST. (Please don’t shoot me – I don’t agree with THE TEST, but it is a reality, and if I am not doing my part to prepare our students for it, then I can’t look teachers in the eye when I offer to assist them meet their objectives.)

The World of Citation

Last February, an awesome post appeared in my Google Reader from K-M the Librarian, Sara Kelley-Mudie.  In order to impress the importance of citation to her students, she used a great analogy:  citations are the addresses where the resources reside.

Please take a moment to go read her post – it is darned well worth it and I can wait while you read it.

Now- wasn’t that awesome?!  Doesn’t she inspire you to approach citations from a different perspective?

Switching Things Up

The next time you are preparing to teach citation, why not use K-M’s plan and begin with the address analogy?  Then show her Slideshare presentation (it’s awesome, too!).

Another Trick to Toss In:  Conquer Citation Chaos Kits
When I was a classroom teacher, I started using a hands-on approach for citation practice.  After reviewing the parts of a citation I gave groups of students jumbled citations:  I had written individual parts of citations on index cards and the students had to arrange them in correct order.   Students enjoyed the activity because it was like solving a puzzle.
In preparation for reviewing MLA citations with sophomores recently, I began putting together Conquer Citation Chaos Kits – gallon sized Ziploc bags filled with color coded slips of cardstock.  The picture below shows just two sets of jumbled citations, but I added one more (an encyclopedia article) before using these with my sophomores.
The hot pink strips are parts of a book citation while the orange strips are from a website citation. Currently the strips are not laminated, but if the lesson is successful, I’ll be laminating them for future use. (Note:  The strips are now laminated!  The teacher and students enjoyed the activity and we will use it again.)
The next activity I would like to create -and I’d love suggestions from my readers! – is a hands-on approach to working with in-text citations.

Online Citation Games

You can find several games online to further reinforce the proper formatting of citations.  I must thank Karen Hill, media specialist at Byrnes High School, for introducing me to these games. (Karen probably does not even realize that she “hooked me up” with the games as I found them on her website!)  I have linked to two of these from our library’s website.

Readers:  What do you do to add some ex”cite”ment to citation instruction?
Image attribution:  “Sky Blossoms” http://www.flickr.com/photos/96223849@N00/74626966
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