That was fun! Can we do it again? Oh, I didn’t get to finish, can I keep going?
These were the kind of comments I heard as I wrapped up my bibliography unit this year. <Wait, what? Did she say, “bibliography”? As in, citing sources?>
Yes, that’s what I said. True confession here – I haven’t actually taught formal bibliography lessons in, well, a long time. I know. Bad librarian. But. It’s soooo boring. And I can’t even properly write a bibliography without looking it up, so how can I really expect elementary kids to? And with the advent of citation generators, it just seems like an obsolete skill. (Don’t get me wrong – I taught the kids that you have to cite your sources, but I let them do it very informally.)
Anyway, last year I was convinced that I’m doing a disservice to my students so I promised myself I’d do better this year. Our district required us to receive training in Explicit Direct Instruction and then teach a lesson using the model. Bibliography seemed like a perfect topic for using the EDI model of instruction, so it was time to keep my promise to myself.
I was still of the mindset that this was a boring topic and was grudgingly searching for ideas when I came across this blog, in which she relates bibliographies to movie credits. That connection alone made introducing the topic feel much more palatable. At the same time, my district started a free trial of Flocabulary and I discovered a fantastic bibliography rap. If you haven’t heard of it, Flocabulary is a database full of content area rap songs. They also offer printable lyrics and note taking sheets, as well as a weekly current events rap. It’s a pretty awesome resource! I printed out the fill-in-the-blank bibliography lyrics and then taught mini-lessons as we filled them in. The bad part is that now we all refer to a list of sources as a Ba-Ba-Ba-Bibliography.
But none of that garnered the comments that started this post. Those were for the assessment. <Ok, now she’s really off her rocker. The assessment of bibliography instruction was fun?>
Yes. The assessment. I’ve been a librarian for a long time and it’s not at all unusual for me to change course midstream. This was one of those times and it was magical.
I had purchased this Bibliography Bundle from TeachersPayTeachers and printed out a set of the task cards for each student. (The bundle is fantastic! Worth every penny!) My original vision was that they’d each work through their set of tack cards individually. (Boring!) I’m not sure what inspired me, but literally 10 minutes before my class arrived I decided to try hanging the task cards around the library and sending the kids on a hunt for them. I did not hang them in numerical order and had each child start at a different number in order to avoid crowding in any one location.
I gave out the Task Card Recording Sheets, directed them to work in number order, and let them loose. It was amazing! I have a pretty large open space and the kids were running back and forth looking for each card. They were calling out the numbers they were looking for and others would point them in the right direction. It looked chaotic, but they were 100% on task 100% of the time. How often can you say that? As I watched, I imagined ways that it would have been easy to cheat, but no one did! The closest they came to cheating was when they discovered the pile of extra cards that I had printed. They thought they’d be clever and use that stash of cards rather than searching around the library.
The following week they used iPads to scan the QR codes on the task cards to check their answers.
I put a chart on a white board where they could tally the questions they got wrong, which gave all of us a great visual of the questions that we need to go over again. The great part about that was that I asked them to identify which questions I need to reteach, so when I get to that next week, they’ll already know that I’m teaching something they need.
How do you teach bibliography to your elementary students?