Okay, let’s start with a quiz:

Which of the following lines from John Green’s Looking for Alaska has proper M.L.A. formatting?
A. “If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane.” (Green, 88)
B. “If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane” (Green, 88).
C. “If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane” (Green 88).
D. “If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane.” (Green, page 88)
E. “If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane” (Green, page 88).

You answered “C,” right? Why, you little smartie, of course you did. But would your students know the answer? Most of mine don’t – at least not when the fall semester starts.

(Sidenote: What a gorgeous example of metaphor’s power to trump simile. If you haven’t read a John Green novel, do so now. Seriously.)

Let’s help those wayward souls who’ve never met M.L.A., don’t understand the value of embedding their quotes or foolishly believe that lengthening their essays with superfluous chunks of quotes will help them look smarter.

Before the first major essay of the year, I give students a pre-test/skill assessment to find out what they already know about handling M.L.A. and embedding quotes. Then, we work through the answers to the skill assessment pre-test with a lecture that uses compelling examples and modern design to hold their interest.

Let’s be honest – lecturing about writing can be dull. Leading an interactive lecture/discussion of students’ answers to their prior knowledge worksheet, however, is far more engaging.

Finally, I give students a reference sheet to keep in their binders and use as a guide when they start writing their essay’s body paragraphs.

The result of this half-hour lesson? Beautifully embedding source materials and accurately formated citations. Ah, now that’s better.

Want to take a closer look at the handouts and slides available in my TpT shop? Just click HERE.

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