We just started the new research unit in our seventh grade classes that I wrote about the other day. Our students will be reading books by an author of their choice, and doing research into that author to answer the question of whether this author is an "author of substance", someone who will become a classic, or just a quick trend. We're excited about the project, and it has been amazing to have students come in every day proudly holding a book that they read in one or two days, and asking to go to the library to see what else we have by their author.
Yesterday, we took on the tedious task of working on citation skills in class. Our students will need a works cited, and we have decided to do it bit by bit as we go instead of trying to reconstruct a works cited at the end of the unit. Searching the publication page for information has never been a fun lesson, until yesterday when my co-teacher came up with a great idea.
She started the lesson with a complete works cited on the Smart board, and asked the students to make observations. As students shared their observations I identified and labeled their observations using the same techniques we've been teaching for close reading. Once we knew that kids had a good bit of background knowledge we moved on to a shared citation.
She had brought in a big container of Gummi Bears, and told us all that, "If we can cite the Gummi Bears we can cite anything!" We used our citation cards to list the important information imagining that the Gummi Bears were a book:
Author: Daniel Wegman
Title: Gummi Bears
Place "published": Rochester, NY
"Publisher": Wegmans Food Inc.
Date "Published": 2013
All of this information was right there on the label, and kids were easily able to find it when we brought the container to their tables. We then guided the students through converting their information into a citation, paying close attention to punctuation:
Wegmans, Daniel. Gummi Bears. Rochester: Wegman's Food Inc, 2013.
At this point everyone had two good models, and we set them off to independently practice by creating a citation for their own book. Once they passed inspection, and had two perfect citations they were rewarded with both reading time and GUMMI BEARS! By the end of the period, even our most struggling students had completed the task successfully.
The lesson was fun, creative, and highly motivating. I will never go back to teaching citation any other way. Thank you, M.S. for sharing such a wonderful lesson with us!