Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parenthetical citations don't have to be a pain!

Let's see here...the kids have their topics, you've reviewed paraphrasing and note-taking, and have spent some time in the library. Next step -- writing!

My suggestion: plan to go to the library about three days total (in 50 minute classes). Take them 2 for note-taking, return to the classroom for some drafting, THEN go back to the library for final note-taking. Since they're new to this research thing, they don't really know what to take notes on when they get to the library. Then they begin writing the story and realize, "Oh, I could really use X information here!"

Before drafting, take a day or two to go over parenthetical citations and works cited. Depending on your group, you can do a works cited page FIRST and then go over citations, or vice versa. I've done it both ways, and I think you just have to know your kiddos. As you can imagine, either way will take a couple days.

Works Cited First

1. Print off some of the How To manuals from Cambridge Public Library's awesome resources(and yes, they're already updated with the new MLA formatting!). Number each packet to create your own class set of manuals. These stay on the desks from class to class and are the reference manuals students use as they create their source entries.

2. Pull up a short Works Cited powerpoint and go over the process. Direct students to these How To Manuals to make their works cited entries. Remind them that the final works cited is in alphabetical order. Do not differentiate between types of sources, sources that have authors or don't, etc. Make the citations, then put them all in alpha order.

3. Have them take all their source pages and make works cited entries for them. No, they haven't used them in the paper yet, but it will come in handy when you are going over parenthetical citations. When everyone has a drafted works cited page, continue to #4.

4. Go over the powerpoint on parenthetical citations and have them take notes. You can show them, "Look, the first item from your works cited is what appears in the parenthesis, EVERY TIME."

5. When they begin drafting and ask what to put in the parenthesis, you can direct them back to their works cited. In this way, they are constantly referring to the page and seeing how the citations and works cited work together.

5.5. On a certain day after drafting has begun, give them a quiz on parenthetical citations.

6. (Herein lies the problem with this method) At the end of the process, emphasize that a Works Cited page is a list of "works that you cited in the paper." On the last day of drafting, remind them that any source that is NOT used in their paper, must NOT appear on their Works Cited page. Say it until your face turns blue, because even still, some will not go back and trim the WC.



Works Cited Last

1. Introduce the powerpoint on parenthetical citations and have them take notes. In the ppt, I tried to cover the possible scenarios my students were most likely to encounter, knowing the materials they were working with. You may need to add more if your students will be using databases.

2. Practice with a short citation exercise they can do as a class. Review and make corrections.

3. Draft. (Herein lies the problem with this method) I found that students had more questions as they began drafting. I put a lot of time into those parenthetical citation notes & examples, and I got tired of answering questions that were literally spelled out on the page in front of them, so I made a policy: "You have to FIRST check your notes before asking me a question. If you ask a question that is ON YOUR NOTES, I will just walk away."

3.5 On a certain day after drafting has begun, give them a quiz on parenthetical citations.

4. When students have finished drafting, now work on the Works Cited page. Tell them to go through their paper and put a star on the source pages that they ACTUALLY USED in the paper. It might be good to have them make separate piles on their desk, just so you can get visuals to see if they understand.

5. Print off some of the How To manuals from Cambridge Public Library's awesome resources(and yes, they're already updated with the new MLA formatting!). Number each packet to create your own class set of manuals. These stay on the desks from class to class and are the reference manuals students use as they create their source entries.

6. Pull up a short Works Cited powerpoint and go over the process. Direct students to these How To Manuals to make their works cited entries. Remind them that they are only making entries for the sources they used in the paper. Also remind them that the final works cited is in alphabetical order. Do not differentiate between types of sources, sources that have authors or don't, etc. Make the citations, then put them all in alpha order.


Once your kids have some drafting done, return to the library for any supplemental notes they wish to add. Schedule a few days for peer review, nab a computer lab for final drafts, or assign them to finish it at home.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing all of these great ideas and resources for teaching research! I have found it is the hardest for my students. It's always helpful to get new input and see what works for others. Thanks again for sharing!

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