How To Write A Bibliography Elementary

Level: Elementary school, Middle school

Length: 3:15

Notes: Citations are in MLA 8th edition

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Plagiarism: It’s a tough word for young students to read and understand, but it also comes with some scary consequences. Consequences can include teacher, parent, and/or administrator intervention, a failed grade, and in some cases, even school expulsion. The best way to prevent it? Teach your students, while they’re at a young age, to be responsible researchers. Teaching your students to include citations in their research projects is an essential, lifelong skill that will prevent plagiarism, provide self-confidence in the creation and submission of a research project, and also keep those scary consequences for them at bay.

Citations for Beginners was developed to help young researchers understand:

  • what plagiarism is
  • why citations are created (to acknowledge or give credit to the original author, to allow others to find the source themselves, and to demonstrate to your instructor that you’re capable of locating high quality resources)
  • the format and components of a citation in MLA format
  • the purpose of using citation generator websites, such as EasyBib, to develop citations

Use this video in a whole group setting to serve as an introduction to the citation process, assign students to watch it at home for homework as a “flipped classroom” activity, or collaborate with your school librarian to develop extension activities. The possibilities are endless and learning about citations is vital to becoming a responsible and ethical researcher.

Believe it or not, elementary students aren’t too young to use citation generator websites, such as Its simple design allows for young students to quickly and easily cite their sources. Students are capable of creating citations for books, websites, magazine articles, videos, and many other sources they may use while researching. Students can copy and paste the citations into their research project or export them to their Google Docs or Microsoft Word template.

Looking for more videos to help with the research process? Be on the lookout for more coming your way! We’re planning on rolling out videos related to the research process and plagiarism in the months to come! Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our new and exciting resources for educators.

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Connection (3-5 mins):  Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner and a notebook.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Researches, we have spent a lot of time discussing plagiarism and sources in this unit.  All of you have at least two sources you have listed on your graphic organizer for research reports.  However, we have not included this information in our paper yet.  In order to do this we must include a bibliography in our paper.  Today, we will begin to record our sources in a bibliography.

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins):  A bibliography is an additional page of a research report where the author cites sources used in the paper.  This ensures the author is not plagiarizing information and that credit is given to those writers.  Researchers, as you remember I am writing my report on Abraham Lincoln.  I used the book Abraham  Lincoln: The Great Emancipator to answer most of my research questions.  Therefore, I must include this book in my bibliography.  We will use a specific format to list our resources.  In order to cite a source, we need to know the author, title, publication city, and publication date of the source.  This is really helpful because we have already recorded all this information in our graphic organizers to plan our research paper.

I recorded the following information on my graphic organizer.  Teacher displays chart with following information.

1.    Author: Augusta Stevenson 
2.    Title of Book: Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator
3.    Publishing city: New York
4.    Publisher and date: Aladdin, 1986

Now I must format this information in the correct way.  The first line of our citation is the author’s name beginning with their first name.  Watch me as I record this.  Teacher writes on chart.

Stevenson, Augusta. 

Did you notice, that I included the last name first with a comma separating the two names?  I also ended the author’s name with a period.  The next step is to write the title underlined in a separate sentence.  Teacher adds to chart.

Stevenson, Augusta.  Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator. 

Finally, we begin a third sentence, which includes the publisher, city, and date.  This is important so notice how I write the sentence on our chart paper. 

Stevenson, Augusta.  Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator.  New York: Aladdin     Publishing Company, 1986. 

Notice that after the publishing city I included a semi colon and a comma after the publishing company.  This format is very important to ensure you cite the source correctly.  Now it’s your turn to try! I am going to uncover a new chart with the information needed to write a entry into the bibliography.  With your partner, write the entry into your notebook and be ready to share how you formatted the source.

Chart shows:  Author: Niki Walker
        Title: Colonial Women
        Publishing City: New York
        Publisher and Date: Crabtree, 2003

Students should turn and talk while recording their source entry.  Teacher calls on students to help write the source on chart paper.  At this point teacher should explain sources must be organized in alphabetical order based on author’s last name.  Challenge students to explain which entry should come first in the bibliography.

I think you are now ready to create your own bibliography.  In your notebooks and using your graphic organizers you may return to your seats and get started.  Be sure to refer to our class chart for formatting help.

Workshop Time (15-20 mins):  Students return to their seats.  They have already recorded their sources on the research paper graphic organizer and any additional information needed can be found in their source books.  During this time they will write their own bibliographies.  Teacher will circulate around the room to help students with difficult texts or texts with more than one author.

Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins):  Student bibliographies will be collected at the end of this lesson to serve as an exit slip.  I quickly separate students into those who mastered the skill and those who need to edit or change their bibliographies before publishing.

Reflection: This lesson was the easiest way to introduce citing sources.  The unit focuses on recording your sources and the consequences of not recording sources.  However, there are so many different ways to cite sources, I chose to introduce only one way to students with books with one author.  I wanted them to take away the structure and format to complete a basic bibliography.  This lesson can be adjusted for higher grade level students. 

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