Time — it seems like there’s never enough of it in schools, especially this time of year when field trips, testing, year-end projects and activities take over the instructional calendar. I find at this time of year, teachers often come to me asking for a project where students can practice information literacy skills, like citation, choosing sources, taking notes, or avoiding plagiarism, but in less time than writing a traditional long research paper might take.
Enter Annotated Bibliographies and Everything But the Research Paper assignments.
These slightly adapted versions of traditional research assignments are great ways to practice a few information literacy skills in greater depth. For me, these assignments can be a real win for students because they are required to slow down and spend more time on important research steps like selecting, evaluating, and justifying sources. This way, when they do longer research assignments or are working more independently, they have a stronger foundation of skills and better habits to rely upon. Students who have significant writing anxiety or are still developing research skills appreciate the greater scaffolding these step-by-step assignments often provide, too. Early in the school year, I’ve found it helpful to use these assignments as mini-units to pre-teach a skill that students will need in a project later in the school year. At this point in the year, they make a great way to review a skill learned earlier on.
While there are other models out there for these assignments (and, to be fair, other assignments that meet similar goals), these are tools that I’ve found work well in my school.
In this assignment, students create an MLA Works Cited list and write a short paragraph summarizing, assessing and reflecting on each source.
Everything But the Research Paper
Students write a research question, research proposal, outline, find sources, take notes, and write the introduction, but don’t go on to write the research paper.