Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bibliographies: the why.

I had a chance to talk with the 5th graders about bibliographies this week and I was excited. Perhaps bibliographies seem like dull stuff to you (and you may be correct in thinking that), but I had a pet peeve about bibliographies.

You see, I had to start creating bibliographies in elementary school too and my teachers were always very focused on getting all of the detailed formatting exactly correct. It was so very (very) stressful. I have been painstakingly creating bibliographies for years and yet never understood until I was in graduate school what a great and useful thing a good bibliography can be. I never grasped the why... why bibliographies are important. In fact, I honestly thought my teachers were requiring them simply as a means of tormenting their students.

So I was excited to get to talk with and ask the Upham 5th graders what their thoughts are about why a bibliography or a resource list might be a useful thing. These students came up with some great thoughts...
... bibliographies show your reader where you found your information
... bibliographies prove that you are not plagiarizing or pretending that someone else's ideas are your own
... bibliographies point a reader who is interested in finding out more about the topic to specific resources that will help them.
That last one is my favorite because once you realized that the whole purpose of a bibliography is to help someone find a specific book or magazine article or website then it begins to make more sense why you need to include all of these picky little bits of information in a picky format.

Moving forward these students will be learning how to use NoodleTools to create perfectly formatted bibliographies, but even with the 21st century tools we have available to help us it is still worthwhile taking a moment to understand why we need a bibliography in the first place.

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