One of the hardest concepts for high school students to grasp is “intellectual property.” So today’s lesson was built around how to properly cite the sources that they are currently spending their time reading and from which they are developing their research questions–and eventually from which they are answering the research questions.
Our English department uses the Modern Language Association’s style guide–more commonly called MLA style. So I started the lesson by going over basic vocabulary (all the synonyms for bibliography, etc.) and showing online resources that I have on our classroom page and online resources found on our school library’s page. These easily found resources include Citation Machine and BibMe among others. I modeled for the students how to fill out the online forms that then generate the bibliographical entries that they then only need to copy and paste into their worked cited/consulted pages (aka bibliographies). Citing sources is so much easier today than when I was their age, that’s for sure. We also looked at sample Works Cited pages from Purdue OWL. In today’s world, students can see bibliographical entry samples, create entries, and see how to properly format their pages all with a few simple clicks of a computer mouse.
Since the students were now equipped with the basics of how to create their bibliographic entries, I gave each table group a different book to practice creating a Works Cited entry using MLA format. The basic, simple goal of the day: Cite your sources–accurately and completely. I gave each group a different type of book as well. So when we debriefed at the end of the exercise, we could talk about how a book isn’t just a book and that online sources and magazines include slightly different pieces of information. One group had a diary, another the Bible, and yet another a literature textbook. One group had a book of poetry, another had a series of novellas in one compilation. I found books that I thought would challenge them.
After they created their entries as exit tickets, our final thoughts for the day circled back around to the necessity for this process–to give proper credit to the original owners of the ideas. I shared with them how even giving credit can sometimes not be enough if it isn’t done with precision. So I use the story of The Verve’s loss of their rights to their biggest hit, “Bittersweet Symphony” over the size of the sample used in the song from a Rolling Stones song. Intellectual property isn’t something to mess around with–do due diligence is the message of the day because sometimes even due diligence isn’t enough.
“Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve
“Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.”