Submitted by Laura Guest
One of the activities I completed for the LS 593, Invigorate Your School Library with the ASSL National Standards class was answering the question: What does attribution look like at each level for the students you work with?
I begin teaching copyright and citations in kindergarten. As I read to the students we talk about the author and illustrator and their ownership of the work. If we have an activity relating to the story, they fill in parts of the citation depending on the time of the year and their grade level. It might be a word from the title or part of the author’s name.
A few years ago, Anchorage School District, asked us to pilot an assessment for library at grades 3 and 5. About 3% of my fifth graders could create a complete citation. I was so disappointed because I knew I had been teaching this for five years! After some detective work, I discovered most teachers do not require any time of attribution for any work done in the classroom. If students practice a couple times a year during library but never use it outside of my classroom, it doesn’t stick with them.
I created “fill in the blank” slips (about ¼ of an 8 ½ x 11 page) for the most commonly used sources such as book, image, encyclopedia, magazine and database article. They are on different colors to help the student see where their information is coming from.
Completing this activity reminded me that, I need to get the classroom teachers on board with requiring students to cite sources properly for every assignment. If the teachers know that I’ve already taught the kids and I provide them with my slips, they don’t have to do any teaching. Even if they don’t grade the works cited page other than “it is there” or “it isn’t there”, it will let students know it is important.
After I teach the students, I will ask for volunteers to present “how to cite common sources” to their teachers during lunch. I will provide a home cooked meal to bribe the teachers into the library. At that point, they can’t claim they didn’t know the kids already knew how, right?