Friday, December 30, 2016

Bibliography Bootcamp

My fifth grade language arts teachers recently asked me to teach a lesson on how to create bibliographies of the sources their students used during their nonfiction writing unit.  Since this topic is challenging for many fifth graders, I wanted to develop an engaging lesson that would encourage them to approach bibliographies with confidence.  So I instructed our fifth graders to report to Bibliography Boot Camp.

When students came to the media center, they lined up outside and waited for me to give directions.  I greeted students by yelling that my name was Sergeant Lewis and that they had arrived at Bibliography Boot Camp.  I told them this would be the hardest 45 minutes of their life and I didn't expect many of them to make it to the end.  However, if students were up for the challenge, they were instructed to march into the media center and stand in formation.

In the media center, I taught students a military cadence (borrowed from my very creative media specialist friend), which they repeated after me.

I don't know but it's been said
Cite the sources that you've read!
Give the credit where it's due.
If you don't, they'll come for you!
Sound off!
1, 2
Sound off!
3, 4
Sound off!
1, 2, 3, 4

Next we discussed what a bibliography is and why it is so important to the cite sources we use in research.  I gave each student a booklet that they could keep as a reference after our lesson.  The booklet also provided lines for students to practice writing entries during the lesson.  Then I explicitly taught students how to create bibliography entries for the types of sources they use most often.  I made sure to show students where they should look within each source to locate the necessary information.  We started with print books and then continued to websites, online database articles, and encyclopedias.  After I taught students each type of entry, they practiced creating an entry in their booklets.  To simplify this step, I selected resources in advance that they would be likely to use based on their research topics.  For books, students selected a book from a stack of nonfiction books I pulled.  For websites, I linked several sites to the media center site.  And I showed an article from Grolier Online for online database articles.  Although encyclopedia articles are included in the booklet, I did not have time to teach students how to create this type of entry during our 45 minute lesson.

After students completed a bibliography entry correctly, they were instructed to participate in a physical activity.  Prior to the lesson, I borrowed some cardio workout stations from my physical education teachers and spread these out around the media center.  When students were given permission to train, they selected a cardio station and followed the directions to complete the activity.  After all students successfully created the required entry, we reassembled as a group and moved on to the next type of bibliography entry. 


"Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory."
-General George S. Patton

Click below to download the presentation I used during the lesson.

Bibliography Boot Camp from Jennifer Lewis

And click here to download the booklet I created to give students during the lesson.


  1. Thank you!! This is going to work so well with my own fifth graders -- love the idea of tying motion in as a reward.

  2. Thank you Nicole! I am sure your students will love it as much as mine did!

  3. This looks like fun! So the students went through a cycle of learning to cite a resource, physical activity center, next resource, next center? Thanks!

  4. Hi KC! That is exactly right. We repeated the activity with different sources each time.