As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm currently teaching my research unit to students in grades 4-8, and past experience has taught me the benefit of "chunking" the research procedure into bite-sized, manageable pieces for my kiddos.
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Most of you will agree that source citation is a very abstract and outdated idea to our students, and trying to make it relevant to them goes over like a pregnant pole-vaulter.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
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!
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Educational consultant + #pedtech coach in Cleveland, Ohio sharing innovative technology ideas for educators.