Thursday, February 24, 2011

The World of Citation

I was going to start this post by saying, "Citation is one of the hardest things I teach" but then I thought about it and realized that there's nothing I teach where I think, "Hey, no problem, everyone understands that immediately." But citation is definitely one of the most frustrating things I teach, because it can be such an abstract idea for students. Why, they want to know, do they have to include all those details? And why would anyone care what order the information was in? Can't they just throw in a title and a URL and be done with it already?

Students do seem to have a sense of why it's important to give credit to their sources, and I do use (and love) NoodleTools to help them with the citation process, but I was still getting a lot of push back on the "why" of the details citation. I was struggling to come up with good way to make it click for my students ("just because" wasn't cutting it, explanation-wise, and for good reason).

I love teaching with analogies, and I had managed to develop several good analogies to explain different parts of the search process (most of them involve food. I know my audience), but a citation analogy eluded me. Until, out of nowhere (probably while processing books, which is when I do some of my best thinking), it came to me.

A citation is like the source's address.

Of course! I put together a quick presentation for students the next day--after all, I was convinced the idea was brilliant, but it might fall flat with students. I started by putting up the school's address, but all jumbled up, and asked if they could tell me what it was. They knew it was the school's address, of course, but also recognized it wasn't in the right format. No big deal, of course--unless someone tried to send them a care package to the messed up address, and it never got here because the post office couldn't figure out what was going on.

I then put up a jumbled address from somewhere in New York City. It was easy to tell it was a New York address; then I revealed it was the address of the LEGO store in Rockefeller Center. If you were able to decipher the address, you'd be able to get somewhere awesome.

It seemed to be clicking with students, and I've been working on the analogy since. Most kids have seemed to connect with it, and it's provided a good way to frame discussions about what needs to be in a citation.

Why do they need to include the year of publication? Because it's part of the address.
Why don't they copy and paste the URL from a database source? Because it's bad directions.
Why do we need in-text citations? They're a sign post for your reader.


Then I hit up my Social Studies department for a spare map (I was too impatient to order one). I was hoping for a US map; they only had a world map, but I think it worked out even better. I also had some giant thumbtacks I'd gotten for Christmas, which makes the display 3-D (sort of). The slides below are a more refined version of my presentation, including pictures of my World of Citation display.

World of citation
(This is, for the record, also the first time I've used SlideShare.)

This is, in my humble opinion, the most awesome citation-themed bulletin board ever. It's also getting lots of attention and questions from students, which is really cool. Who ever thought a display about citation could be a conversation starter?

41 comments:

  1. I.LOVE.THIS. Simply Amazing! If our social studies teachers didn't include citation in their curriculum, I would steal this and use it. Actually, maybe I'll just pass it on to them...if that's ok, which I'm guessing it is, since you posted about it.

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  3. Great idea! Thanks, shall use this with my next Year 8 class.

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  4. I too love to teach with analogies! The first slide in my citation presentation is "I know, it's boring... but, you have to do it, and here's why..." I use a similar analogy and I try to jazz it up with some cartoons and graphics, and my own brand of humor. But the depth of your analogy, and especially the map, are genius! I am going to revise my lesson as soon as I get back. Thanks for sharing, and for the inspiration to go bigger! :-)

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  5. All my thumbs are up for this idea. I love the map!

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  6. 'Tis an excellent analogy, far better than any I ever came up with in all my years of teaching (my brother math).

    Though I have to ask, since I didn't see it mentioned in the slide show: Where in the World of Citation is C. Armen, San Diego Union-Tribune?

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  7. Thank you all! It pleases me to no end that other people like it too! And please feel free to borrow, share, and modify the idea!

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  8. I could've used this bulletin board in law school. No joke.

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  9. This is such a thoughtful and practical way to show students a real-world analogy between scholarly work and their lives!

    One assessment of their understanding would be to provide each student with another student's (name removed but numbered so you can return it) Works Cited list and have them re-find the source.

    To turn it into a scavenger hunt, have the original create a question for each of the sources on his/her list (and a key with his/her name). The person finding the source must answer the student-author's question from within the located source. Since this refocuses students on the content as well as the research process, I'm betting the content-area teacher would love it too!

    Letitia Hughes, an AP English teacher in KY has a write-up of this here:
    http://www.barren.kyschools.us/userfiles/1537/Classes/1232/scavenger%20hunt.docx

    If students send you the bibliography / works cited list as a word processed document via NoodleTools along with their answer key, you can check quickly to see that the original student's name is removed, assign a number, then forward it on to the student who will assess the "findability" of the sources.

    If the sources were also annotated by the original student, it might be fun to give the papers (without student names) to the assigning teacher, since the teacher could assess the questions and annotations for knowledge about topic and analysis of sources without the "bias" of knowing the student's name.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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  10. I love that idea so much! Some of my students have learned the value of good citations the hard way, when needing to re-find lost sources--students who had made good citations and were able to re-find sources easily really understood the value of good citations. I like the idea of turning it into a lesson/activity in and of itself.

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  11. I was so inspired by this I made a prezi presentation (with cedit to this blogpost) on this idea!

    http://prezi.com/qhumvjgbrydx/where-in-the-world/

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  12. I just stumbled upon this blog! This is the best analogy for citations ever! Great job! I will use this! Thank you so much for not keeping it to yourself!

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  13. Thank you! I'm teaching middle-school kids at an int'l school in China, and have been struggling with how to make it interesting and meaningful.

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  14. I was redirected here by this post http://informania.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/put-some-excitement-into-citations/

    because I too, am struggling with the "why?"!
    I'm so glad I found this, and I am definitely going to use this technique when I reach this in a week. Bonus! I'm going to cite this page and tie it into my avoiding plagiarism portion of MLA :)
    PERFECT!

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  15. Just found this! Great Blog Post! I've used a similar analogy before but I had never thought of calling it an address, and I never followed it through. I am going to try to adapt this for my purposes. I also liked the comment about connecting this to a scavenger hunt. I'm going to see if I can get one of my more experimental faculty members to let me do the scavenger hunt with a class.

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  16. This is AMAZING! My students are notorious for taking information directly from the text and never citing anything. This format is perfect for my students because they are ESL and from every corner of the world. Thank you!!!

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  17. Love this! For my sessions with college students I often show them a print volume (1 hard bound & 1 shoddily bound) and issue and explain why/where/how the different citation parts are relevant - or at least, were back when you had to routinely pull these off the shelf.

    I will be incorporating this into a plagiarism workshop :-)

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  18. Thank you! I'm teaching middle-school kids at an int'l school in China, and have been struggling with how to make it interesting and meaningful.

    Dana Cepat

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  33. I think is that the teacher is not full of aware that there is not one Havard citation style format but that the name refers to a group of styles. So many student searched on the internet and take it easy and quickly style format tool like harvard citation generator. Teacher did not guide properly is that one of reason student searched on the internet.

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