My name is Melissa Benoit and I’m a high school English teacher at Allegan High School in Allegan, Michigan.
I teach mostly Senior English. The focus of Senior English is leadership, and has students think about their role in society and how to be an effective citizen. We spend a lot of time analyzing characters in our novels and discussing if they have qualities of leaders.
One big project we do asks students to think about a world issue or problem and how they can get involved in solving the problem. The goal is to create a final presentation using a web 2.0 tool of their choice. It involves lots of research, which students struggle in completing accurately, especially how to cite their sources.
I wanted to figure out what previous knowledge students had about citing sources. I wanted this to be an informal conversation. I decided to use a Poll Everywhere, so students could answer honestly. It also allowed me to get the information quickly and discuss it with students the same class period. Most students no idea how to do it or couldn’t remember how.
After the initial questionnaire, I gave a PowerPoint about why it’s important to cite credible sources. The PowerPoint covered how to find the sources and then how to cite them. We discussed the CARRDSS method of finding reliable sources and then what it means to “cite” sources and what information they would need to do this effectively. Students worked together and talked about some places they visit frequently and if they would be considered credible. They got in small groups and brainstormed before we discussed as a class. Then they had a chance to visit some websites and decide if they were credible or not, by filling out a sheet. Students were also able to tell if they were reliable because when they went to cite the, the non-credible websites didn’t have the necessary information to cite it correctly.
Students spent time in the lab practicing how to find sources, determining if they are credible, and citing them. We came back and had a discussion about what they learned and found. This helped me gauge what students needed more help with and what they understood.
Finally, students picked a topic for their research project and looked for credible sources on their own. They had to fill out a sheet for each piece of research to determine if it was credible. They worked through finding sources and citing them correctly using various websites like easybib.com and citationmachine.org. I was able to monitor their progress as they looked for sources and cited them to make sure they were on track.
When they went to put their projects together, students had to find creative commons pictures and also site them correctly. We talked through the process and I gave students multiple resources to help them with the process. I posted all of these resources on the wiki, so students were able to access them from anywhere. I was impressed by how well they did with these new tools. They took the information from before and applied it to this new task.
The majority of students did an excellent job finding credible sources and citing them. They were even able to find creative commons photos and cite those in their projects. I was proud of students for their hard work. I could tell they had learned the process of citing sources, both websites and photos. They also had come up with professional looking projects they could be proud of.
At the end of the trimester, I wanted to make sure students had retained the information and could successful cite sources. I gave them a research survey to check their knowledge and remind them about some aspects of citing sources.
I was impressed by how much they had retained from the previous activities, but I wanted to see if given a project, could they successful cite things without worksheets or constant guidance. I still explained the expectations clearly and told students they needed to cite their sources, but I let them work on their own. The project I used was for the novel we just finished, The Catcher in the Rye. Students had to find sources and images and successful implement them in the projects. When I saw finished projects, I knew students had mastered the concept and left on their own were able to cite successfully.
By having students complete the assignment multiple times the cognitive perspective learning theory was implemented. Students were able to re-experience the correct method by remembering what they did before. Along with this, social perspective learning theory helped students take an authentic activity like the research project and apply the credible source lesson. By helping students through the process multiple times, I was helping scaffold the skill. Eventually, I let students complete the task on their own.
The different learning theories helped me teach my students how to find and cite credible sources. Overall, the lesson was a success J