As the librarian, I don’t give any grades (a fact over which you will never see me shedding tears, although I do not point this fact out to the students, since I am happy for them to think I wield great power). However, part of the district’s report cards include citations and bibliographies for the older grades and many of the teachers simply expect me to do the majority of the teaching on that subject.

But. . . citations are boring. And I speak as a history major who has done hundreds and hundreds of them. It’s nit-picky, it’s tedious, and, for a fourth or fifth grader, it’s kind of hard to see the point, I think.

And I don’t like teaching boring things because it makes for a class management nightmares, as the kids get restless, loud, and difficult. I suffer more than they do if they don’t like the lesson. And, this may shock you, but I try to avoid suffering when possible.

Which is why this week, in fifth grade, we’re playing Citation Jeopardy. I set the whole thing up in PowerPoint, with the slides linked to each other (why, yes, I am stupidly proud of the whole thing – you can check it out here if you happen to be a giant nerd, although the internal hyperlinks appear not to work on the Google Doc version, which is tragic) and even some Daily Doubles.

The questions asked things like “What kind of citation is this” and then had an example, or showed a citation that was missing some sort of punctuation or a whole part and asked them to identify what was missing. Some questions, I gave them a book and made them find the publisher or the copyright year.

I was worried it might be kind of lame, that they’d get antsy, but instead they were on the edge of their seats. While one team was figuring out the answer, the other teams would be conferring, so that if the question got to them, they’d be able to answer correctly.

I even had prizes (who knew fifth graders would lose their minds over “Hungry Little Caterpillar” stick-on tattoos?), thanks to Penguin.

I don’t know that the popularity of the game quite made up for the last two weeks where we’ve been doing citations by hand, but I think it may have come close.

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  • Reply Bean March 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Games ALWAYS make things better. And a caterpillar tattoo?? Awesome!

  • Reply Merrick March 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Haha..hungry caterpillar tattoo's? Sign me up!

  • Reply Packrat March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    You are too cool! The students will always remember that citations are important.

  • Reply Shelly March 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    That is a GREAT way to teach a boring subject.

  • Reply Jessica March 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    citations in 4th/5th grade? wow, i forgot how super-fast everything goes on the East Coast! lulled into complacency by my Midwestern secondary schools – we didn't even touch a citation until high school!

  • Reply Life of a Doctor's Wife March 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    That sounds awesome! Way to make learning fun!

  • Reply nancy March 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    As a parent of a 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st grader, thanks for going the extra mile. I am always very greatful for teachers who enjoy their job and make school fun for my kids.

  • Reply Bethany March 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    How brilliant are you?! I love it! Those are some lucky kids! I must be nerdy because I think I enjoyed going through those slides a bit too much. 🙂

  • Reply Saskia Tielens March 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    that is awesome. We didn't learn citations in either elementary or high school, and I spent a lot of hours with the Wadsworth Handbook trying to figure out Chicago or MLA in college as a result. I bet our writing teacher could have made that so much less painful by including your game in her curriculum!

    On a side note, maybe I can play that game with my sister. She's a senior in college, going for her masters in biology next year, and when I proofread her senior thesis and asked about her citation system, she didn't know what it a literature student, I was shocked!

  • Reply Yankee Girl March 24, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Ok, I just checked out your PowerPoint and I think you are so cool–I'm such a nerd.

  • Reply Angela Noelle March 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Good girl. This is a lesson after my own the-classroom-is-a-game-room-loving heart.

  • Reply Carole March 25, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Like Grandad says, "Above all else, Don't Be Boring!"

    Good for you for rising above the crowd once again.

  • Reply Chelsea March 25, 2010 at 1:35 am

    There's nothing like competition to to make even the most boring subject interesting to a group of people! Good job. I wish you had been my librarian. Always loved reading, but not the research stuff.

  • Reply Jess March 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    You SHOULD be proud. And not stupidly so! This is a BRILLIANT idea!

  • Reply Melissa March 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I am impressed with your creativity. You tapped into the kid's competitive natures. Always a great way to encourage kids.

  • Reply megan March 25, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Your game sounds awesome. And furthermore, the tattoos sound great at any age.

  • Reply Monica March 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    This is absolutely amazing. I have such a hard time teaching "boring stuff," like grammar. What a great idea to boot participation!

    Stealing it!

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