Citing sources for school projects has changed in some ways over time and stayed the same in others. The styles like MLA (the most widely used in K-12 school projects), APA, Chicago, Harvard, AMA, etc. still exist, their biggest changes being additions to the types of sources that need citing in the digital age. The most substantial changes have come about in the tools that can be used to cite sources and the “rules” for citing sources. Obviously, these changes have come about due to the abundance of media available online to students today.
Students need to first understand why they are citing sources before they learn the how of citing sources. The ease of locating media for school projects can lead students to wonder if items are freely available on the internet what needs to be cited and what does not. Teachers and school librarians are on the front line of answering this question. There are a variety of ready to use lesson plans available for elementary, middle, and high school. Many lessons can also be adapted for varying age groups. If you would like to produce your own lessons, there are also many resources available like modules, videos, games, and sites all about citing sources made for students.
Citing sources can be done without the use of an online tool using any of the styles. There are many tools available for citing sources available online. Some tools are free versions of paid tools that have fewer features than the paid version like NoodleTools and Scrible. Then there are free citation tools that students can use to cite various types of sources, then copy and paste their citations into a document like EasyBib and Cite This For Me, which both contain ads. There is also Citation Generator, which has no ads, has more features, and a clean, easy to use layout. Another citation generator with the added feature of being able to save multiple works cited lists for various projects ad-free is MyBib.
Overall, citing sources is an essential lesson needed by students so that they can recognize the importance of crediting information to its source. Many resources are available through TeachersFirst for citing as well as finding resources for student research projects. Don’t forget to check out the TeachersFirst blog posts for help with teaching students about research!