MLA Citations Activity

shared by jbohle on October 13, 2017

Activity Summary:

In this activity, students practice citing different sources, finding the different pieces necessary for a citation, and gain a better understanding of how flexible source citation can be.


Materials Needed:

  • YouTube video: How to Cite a Cereal Box
  • 6-8 example sources and correct MLA citations–include a wide variety. You could also include source types that would be relevant to an upcoming assignment. For example:
    • Cereal box
    • Scholarly article
    • Popular article
    • Book
    • Chapter in an edited collection
    • Image from the web
    • Blog post
    • Email
  • MLA style handbook

Lesson Plan

  1. Put the activity in context with an upcoming assignment.
    e.g., We are practicing MLA citations now so that you will be ready for the documented essay.
  2. Ask students how they typically figure out how to cite their sources. Expect answers like EasyBib or other citation generators. Ask students how they would go about citing an odd source, like a cereal box.
  3. Have students watch this YouTube video: “How to Cite a Cereal Box.”
    NOTE: This video was made for MLA 2009. While it is not totally up-to-date, the larger concept that the teacher is demonstrating still holds.
  4. Review in-text citation practices (signal phrases, parenthetical citations).
  5. Put students in groups of 2-3. Assign them at least one source.
  6. Ask students to identify what kind of source they were given, write a sentence that cites the source, and write a citation that would appear in the Works Cited page. Walk the room to make sure students are identifying their source correctly. (e.g., Students have trouble distinguishing citing a work in an anthology vs. citing an entire book.)
    NOTE: This class can be done in a computer lab or in a classroom, but be aware of the limitations of writing out citations by hand as opposed to on a computer.
  7. If time, have students switch sources.
  8. Have students select one group member to present their source to the rest of the class. Ask the class to look at the citation and see if there are any problems with it.
  9. Have students write an informal reflection on citing sources. Possible questions include:
    1. What has been your past experiences with citing sources?
    2. How can you apply concepts from this class activity to the upcoming assignment?
    3. What is still difficult about citing sources?