Tech Thoughts: Why I don’t like my students using bibliography tools

Today I want to reflect on my strong feelings about NOT having students use Noodle Bib or Easy Bib or any other electronic tool for generating a works cited page. I prefer to have students create bibliographies based on a template as opposed to inserting information into a generator.

I believe these tools do not actually help students understand the how or the why of the citation. I’ve been reflecting on this after I recently realized I need to teach how to create a works cited page better after my AP Literature students turned in miserable versions of works cited for their Hamlet papers.  They were so bad overall, I required complete revisions for an all or nothing score–but they could turn it in until they earned complete credit.  Some of them turned in 8 versions before they got it right.  Some of them just gave up.  Some of them turned in a perfect version after just one try.  Only about five of them (out of 50) had it correct the very first time.

One of the biggest issues I saw was the students didn’t really understand what the generators were asking for, so they just filled in information in multiple spaces.  The other thing that drives me bonkers is the n.p., n.d.  Just leave those out!  Finally, students don’t double-check the generated results–they assume because it has been created by an online resource, it must be right.

As I sit here reflecting about this tool students use (incorrectly and without my blessing), I am not sure what the problem is.  Is it student inability to follow directions? Is it student apathy and lack of precision?  Is it my fault for not explicitly teaching them how to use these generators? (Because I don’t, I tell them to use the models online at Purdue OWL and tell them not to use these generators–but they do anyway.) I try to explain how/why citations and works cited are used, but students seem to zone out.

I’m not sure I have an answer, but I do think next year I’ll try to be more explicit about teaching citations to my students at the beginning of the year instead of just assuming they know how to do it.  Feel free to post any thoughts/comments/ideas about this topic.  I’d love to hear from other teachers about this.

papers01

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

Advertisements
Tech Thoughts: Why I don’t like my students using bibliography tools

Up Late with Andrew Smith’s The Alex Crow

I’m sure you all know about my obsession with Andrew Smith already–I’ve posted about all his other books: Grasshopper Jungle, 100 Sideways Miles, and Winger, and we had a guest post about The Marbury Lens. However, this latest book is his magnum opus (this far, because he’s still writing). Reading this book I realized what a genre-bending genius he is, and I have not been so moved by a book in a long time.

Ariel is possibly my favorite character of all time.  Reflections this one might explain: “Why would anyone ask a question to someone who has free will and then be surprised–or disappointed–by their answer?” Ariel, a refugee now living with a family in West Virginia, is shuffled off to Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys with the son of the family he’s living with. But the book also contains flashbacks to the late 1800s with Arctic explorers and also Ariel’s flashbacks to being in refugee camps.  The result is a fascinating amalgam of what it means to be human in all times and places.

If I were to describe this book to anyone, it would be difficult, but perhaps if you imagined The Kite Runner and The Stand and The Tempest and The Heart of Darkness and 1984 all squished together you might have an tiny idea of what this book delves into. The problem here is the reductive nature of comparing one book to another. The Alex Crow is, simply, incomparable.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

Up Late with Andrew Smith’s The Alex Crow

Friday Five: The Benefits of Teaching Nobody Tells you About

1. You keep up with popular vernacular--maybe not with everything, but you have more of a clue than your peers. For example, today, when students ran across the word “beau,” I told them it was like an old version of “bae” and they all nodded their heads and said, Oh, OK and we moved on.

2. You’ve got a trapped audience for bad jokes and puns. I admit it, there’s something awesome about using a pun or telling a bad joke in class and having (at least a few kids) laugh in appreciation of your clever turn of a phrase.

3. Students recommend films and books. Some of my best book and film recommendations come from students. One student would not stop pestering me until I watched Birdman. I’m glad he did.

4. You can accomplish things quickly without overthinking them.  I know this seems like a strange one, but in the classroom, we have to make snap decisions all the time. This means we’re used to trusting our gut, choosing a path, and accomplishing tasks.  The teachers I know all have a certain confidence that I believe comes from being in charge of hundreds of teenagers every day. And we get stuff done–quickly and efficiently.

5. You learn to appreciate the little things.  For example, free cookies in the teacher’s lounge is something to celebrate.  Ten minutes of a lunch period where your grading is done and your planning is ready becomes a veritable holiday.

tea&cookies

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Friday Five: The Benefits of Teaching Nobody Tells you About

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Check out this great blog by our President, Jennie K. Brown.

Jennie K. Brown

B Shakes My son dressed as The Bard this past Halloween

This will come as no surprise to many of you. I LOVE SHAKESPEARE! (See pics!) I really can’t pinpoint the exact moment I became so interested in The Bard. Sure, I enjoyed the works I read in high school and college – but it wasn’t then. Even in my first few years of teaching I didn’t have the same passion for all-things Shakespeare that I have now. Thinking back, I don’t think there was actually one thing that made me love him and his works. It was through years upon years of interaction (in school, performing in his plays, reciting his sonnets, teaching his works) that got me so interested in his works.

Shakes selfie My annual Shakespeare Day selfie!

My first interaction with Shakespeare was in a performance of Macbeth the summer going into my sophomore year of high school. My drama…

View original post 793 more words

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Twitter Talks for Teachers

This past week, PCTELA held our first Twitter Talk about summer reading. (We’ll be holding these the third Monday of every month from 8pm to 9pm.) If you are on twitter, you might already know about the wide variety of talks for teachers. If you’re not on twitter, these would be a great reason to make an account and do some professional development. Many of us were talking at our recent PCTELA board meeting about how we use twitter for professional development, to reach out to authors, and talk about writing–personally and professionally.

One of the oldest education talks, #edchat, happens Tuesdays from 12pm to 1 and 7 to 8 pm Eastern Time. The description from their page: “#Edchat is the weekly Bammy Award winning Twitter conversation that any educator can join to discuss and learn about current teaching trends, how to integrate technology, transform their teaching, and connect with inspiring educators worldwide. We also discuss education policy, education reform and often have leaders worldwide join our conversations, such as Alfie Kohn, Diane Ravitch, and the Finnish Education Leaders.”

There’s also #engchat, more specifically for English educators, which happens Mondays from 7 to 8pm. This is “a network of English teachers connecting with one and another via Twitter to share ideas, resources and inspiration.  To join, search for the hashtag, #engchat in twitter or use a tool such as TweetChat to help you follow the discussion.  Each week, a guest moderator shares a new idea, perspective or vision of what it means to be an English teacher.”

There are plenty of other chats online–I found this comprehensive list/calendar of chats for you to scroll through and look for chats more specific to your interests (like AP, or flipping class).

state-twitter-chats-001Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Twitter Talks for Teachers

Up Late with A Streetcar Named Desire

I just love teaching/re-reading Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire. My AP Literature seniors really enjoyed reading aloud from this–some of them affect a southern accent and all of them seem to laugh at the right places and groan in other spots. The writing is sharp and the story is complex and nuanced. This tale of a pair of remarkably different sisters over the course of a few months in New Orleans was recently retold as Blue Jasmine, a film by Woody Allen.

What seemed just perfect for teaching this was the recent New Yorker cartoon, with Stanley Lebowski. When popular culture syncs perfectly with our teaching, the universe seems to be aligned. One of my students came up to me after we read scene 1 and asked if I’d seen the cartoon below.

liam-walsh-stella-just-you-know-come-on-man-new-yorker-cartoon

There are some other great homages to the famous “Stellaaaaaa” scene  with Marlon Brando–notably Seinfeld makes a reference to the famous “Stella” scene when Elaine has too much to drink…and more recently Modern Family, which references the same scene and has Cam looking for the dog named Stella. I’m sure more shows and films have made reference to that scene–if you know of any, reply in the comments section. That’s one of the reason I love teaching plays like this or books like The Lord of the Flies–it allows students entry in the the club of cultural literacy, as E.D. Hirsch phrased it. And that’s one thing I love about teaching–having students run up to you before or after class, or sending an email a year later just to share with you an allusion or reference from a text we discussed in class.

Happy Monday and happy reading to you all.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Up Late with A Streetcar Named Desire

Friday Five: Signs of Spring at High School

daffodil-19361-2560x1600

Welcome to warmer weather and the last marking period. Here are a few tell-tale signs pointing to spring’s arrival at your high school:

1. Every class period, someone asks: “can we have class outside?”
2. Students (and some teachers) sport the first sunburns of the season and even more flesh is exposed to the light. (This year’s unfortunate fashion choice: midriff shirts are back.)
3. Seniors have stopped doing work and have stopped even pretending to do work. (Be careful, senioritis can be contagious for juniors…and for teachers.)
4. Field Trip season is upon us–and some days you may have less than 50% in attendance for your class–all excused for field trips or sports events.
5. Teachers have already begun to field those annoying “oh, at least you get summers off” comments from the uninformed…

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

 

Friday Five: Signs of Spring at High School