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.