Writing a Strong Research Paper with a Complete Bibliography
I start most citation lessons with a conversation about giving credit to those whose information we rely on for research. I ask students to share examples of times when someone stole their idea or took credit for something that they did. Nearly every person has experienced one of these scenarios. We then talk about how much information and creativity is available online and how important it is to make sure that we are researching and "borrowing" information respectfully and responsibly.
2 Direct Instruction
I introduce NoodleTools to students by showing them the site and demonstrating how to create a new bibliography and add a source. In most subjects and classes, there are one or two resources that are likely to be used by most students in the class, but are a little tricky to site. For example, I work with a group of Biology classes each year that provide an extensive packet of notes for their students. The students always want to use the notes as a source in their papers, so in those classes, I use the notes as my sample source that I will add to the bibliography. Students always appreciate seeing the process in a more difficult application so they are aware of how to maneuver through it when they have the opportunity. Additionally, seeing a challenging source up front makes all of the typical sources seem comparatively easy to add to their bibliography. I also always show students how to export and print their bibliography when they are done adding sources. The easy formatting and printing is one of the most exciting features of NoodleTools so they usually find that option a compelling reason to proceed.
3 Guided Practice
After I have talked with students about why we cite and given instructions on NoodleTools, I usually supervise them through the remainder of a class period or two as they research, write and create their bibliographies. Many catch on to the concepts and to NoodleTools very quickly, but there are always a few who come across a challenging source that they aren't sure how to add. The supervised work time helps students to feel very comfortable with the new tool so they can finish the remainder of their writing at home.
4 Independent Practice & Wrap Up
When students have finished writing their papers one their own time (independent practice) and creating their full bibliography, I have them complete a final step by submitting their paper to Turnitin.com. Turnitin is a plagiarism verification website that allows me and their classroom teacher to see how they have grasped the concept of citation and crediting sources. If students have used information from a website verbatim, Turnitin will identify and highlight the passages in their paper. Even small phrases are flagged so it becomes somewhat simple to see where students have included research in their writing. If they have done a successful job, the passages highlighted are also noted in the biblography. As a bonus to the classroom teacher, Turnitin will also check students papers' against a catalogue of other papers from around the country to verify that no writing has been illegally "borrowed" from others students. Turnitin is a key piece in the assessment component of this lesson and a great way to help determine whether or not students have really learned the lesson about what a bibliography really means.