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Annotated Bibliographies with Canvas Discussion Board

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Brief Assignment Overview: 

This assignment introduces annotated bibliographies to the students as preparation for a longer homework assignment, and their first paper. In using a public forum, students will see that even annotated bibliographies containing the same sources are flexible products influenced by individual projects.


Pedagogical Goals - Digital Literacy: 
Additional Pedagogical Goals: 

This in-class activity is meant to help with research and collecting reliable sources. The students in my particular course had an independent annotated bibliography due at the end of that week, and their first paper due the following week.

Required Materials: 

A computer for every student (though this is not required should the instructor decide to use only his/her own computer and project it for the students)

Timeline for Optimal Use: 
Full Assignment Description: 

This is a two-part activity; half is completed in-class and the other half is a homework assignment due by the next class day.

Homework assignment: Posted to Canvas Discussion Board: “Annotated Bibliography”

The assignment below is a modified version of Purdue OWL's description of annotated bibliographies. (You can upload a file [PDF, Word, etc.] to this discussion board rather than typing directly into the comment boxes since formatting tends to be difficult on Canvas)

Write an annotated bibliography that includes 4-5 sources. Your bibliography must be MLA style (see Easy Writer or Purdue OWL for review). Each annotation must be 100-150 words and include the following:

1. A phrase or brief sentence presenting the credibility/background of the source author (example: Holmes, an eminent scholar in insert relevant field here, discusses …)

2. A very brief summary of the central idea of the source. This should be no more than half of your entire annotation. Make sure you can distinguish whether this is an information article that merely collects and summarizes other people's arguments - or whether it is an opinion article.

3. An assessment of how this source is useful and relevant to your research project. What are the source’s strengths and weaknesses?

(I also provided an example of an annotated bibliography in this space)


In-Class Practice:

(This is a thread I started under the “Annotated bibliography” discussion board.  Students will be able to access it at home so that they will not only have the sample I provided them in the homework prompt, but the products of their group work. I want them to have multiple models and strategies that they can use for their individual annotated bibliographies.) 

(Students are split into groups of 3-4. All groups are given the same set of articles to annotate, but each group must determine which parts of the sources to summarize and what the final bibliography will focus on.)

Write an annotated bibliography according to the directions listed in the “Annotated Bibliography” post on Canvas

a)  (opinion article)

b)  (information article)

c) (information article)

Before you begin working on your annotations, read all 3 sources and decide what a general focus could be - one that ties all 3 sources together.

You should think about whether one source interacts particularly well with another. How does (c) fit into (a)'s argument? What about (b)? Make sure you consider bias and credibility too.

Post your completed responses to this thread.

(At the end of the class – once all of the groups have posted their responses – look through the bibliographies together. Discuss how, even when given the exact same articles, students end up with varying annotations simply because they saw different connections between the sources and because they focused their bibliographies on different topics.)

Suggestions for Instructor Preparation: 

Find a set of articles for the students that will produce rich annotated bibliographies and generate discussion afterwards.

Instructions For Students: 

See assignment description

Evaluation Suggestions: 

Completion and discussion based.

Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.: 

This assignment can take a surprising amount of time, especially if you plan on debriefing and discussing the actual controversies within the articles.

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