My 4th and 5th grade teachers have been collaborating with me over the last two months to plan research projects for their students, and to my great surprise our biggest sticking point has been what citation format to use!
I was prepared to share my handy list of online citation creation sites with teachers (see below), and explain how using a “citation machine” would help beginning researchers learn the proper format by seeing it in action. What I wasn’t prepared for was the teachers not knowing which “proper format” they wanted their students to use. None of the student textbooks or teacher guides they are using provide any instructions for creating entries for a Works Cited page!
We finally decided to go with a modified (aka, simplified) format that would provide title, author (or for encyclopedias, Vol #), date, and URL for web resources. I’m still not sure whether starting them off slowly with just the basic information is a good idea or not. I know that when they hit middle school they’ll need to provide the full citation for every resource they use in a research project, so should we be teaching that now? Or is it okay to ease them into it?
I’d love to hear how other elementary schools are teaching citations, and why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it. Please leave a comment if you are willing to share!
My Top 3 Free Citation Websites for Students:
This is the easiest way to build a works cited page. Search for a book, article, or website, or type in the information yourself. Once you add it to your bibliography, you can continue adding more resources to build your works cited list. Then download your bibliography in either the MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian formats. Unfortunately the site includes ads.
- Son of Citation Machine
This site not only enables students to properly give credit for the information that they use, it helps them understand why it’s important to do so. It also provides great step-by-step instructions for users.
- Easy Bib
Free MLA formatting. (Other styles cost.) Just type in a title or website URL and click on the correct source from the list of results. This tool also allows users to type in their own info in each field, which takes helps students move toward citing sources independently.