Learning MLA Citation Conventions by Teaching Them

the learning pyramid


Materials and set-up:  Computer Classroom 916.  Computers.  A variety of handbooks.

Purpose: Learn MLA documentation conventions well enough to teach various aspects of documenting to your colleagues.


Five minutes:

1. Number off 1-5 to form five working groups in the class (three or four members per group are needed).

2. The experts groups are convened and spread out in the room in clusters.

3. Form the experts groups and give the members of each group instructions to research one of the five questions below:

4. Explain the research task (below)

5. Social objective (group interaction goal for this project) and individual accountability.


Sixty minutes:

6. Citation Experts group up.  Two members will use on line resources, and one will find answers to the research question (above) in the handbooks on the resource shelf. You will make some sort of electronic supplement to support your presentation, which will be posted on line. Instead of presenting to the whole class, however, we will make three phase two groups with experts in each, and you will teach the other members of your phase two group what you learned in this project.


This is important in group work: How will you establish and maintain individual accountability on a project that you will work on both in class and outside of class?


7. Experts teach each other what they learned from their sources and, together, each experts group makes a bulleted list of answers. Additionally,

the Whens make a flow chart or an if / then diagram to show what to cite,

the Whats, the Wheres and the Hows develop examples showing how to present the citation or quote in the paper, and

the Whys illustrate graphically or dramatistically the consequences of not citing sources.


8. Individually, everyone writes three quiz questions from the answers to the question you researched, i.e., from your experts group, and submits them for the quiz.


Forty minutes:

9.  Form into your phase two groups, and teach your phase two group colleagues the why, what, when, where and how of MLA quoting and parenthetical citing. Each member of your group has researched and learned well the answer to one of these questions, so you are going to teach what you know to your colleagues in this group of five (one group will have six).

The goal: Show mastery of MLA parenthetical citation conventions by scoring 80% or above on a quiz of 15 to 20 questions.


Fifteen minutes:


10. Prepare your phase two group to take a quiz on MLA documentation conventions. If we score 80% or above as a class, i.e., no scores below 80%, I will bring doughnuts to our next class.



Testing what you know

1. At the start of class, we take the quizzes individually, and I will collect them.


2. Form into the Citation Experts group to discuss the quiz answers among yourselves while the quizzes are being marked.


3. A score of 80% or above on the quiz is necessary for individuals to receive 3 points for the citing and documenting project.  Quiz takers scoring below 80% will earn 2 points for the citing project.



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