Presenting and Practicing MLA Format

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SWBAT understand how to use MLA format by writing the final drafts of their essays.

Big Idea

Students play follow the leader in a step by step MLA format presentation

Do Now

5 minutes

When my students enter the room, there is usually a "Do Now" activity posted on the board. This gets them warmed up for the day's lesson. Today, we are going to the computer lab, so they only have to take out their drafts as they enter. I am having them take out their drafts just in case any student realizes that they left it in their locker, on their dresser at home, or their dog ate it. This way, we can handle these issues before we get to the lab. I will spend 4 minutes explaining the procedure for walking down the hall, and I will explain what I expect students to do when they enter the computer lab.

Here are their marching orders:

1) We will walk silently to the computer lab. Silently is different from quietly. When you walk silently, no words come out of your mouth. We have to do this because other classes are in session, and we don't want any teachers to have to close their doors as we walk by.

2)  When you get to the lab, take out your rough drafts and place them on the table so that you are ready to type.

3) Once you have your draft out, log on and open a Microsoft Word document immediately. I will know that you are ready when you have a word document open, and you are sitting silently with your eyes on the Promethean Smart Board.

I'll have one student repeat the directions to make sure that we all understand the expectations. When I think we are all clear, I will have them line up at the door---remember...SILENTLY.


Building Knowledge: Formatting in MLA

10 minutes

Some of my colleagues might wonder why I spend class time having them type their essays. The main reason is that I want them to know MLA formatting well before they reach college. The second reason is that this is our first essay, and right now, MLA is another language to them. The third reason is the Common Core. Our students must be able to write and edit work so that it conforms to the guidelines in a style manual (e.g., MLA Handbook) appropriate for the discipline and writing type (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3a). This is the beginning of their use of MLA, and we'll add to it as we continue to publish this year.

Up until today, the Presentation trait of the Six +1 traits of good writing has not been of our primary focus. In 9th grade students are rarely aware of MLA format and I want to prepare them for college, so I am teaching them how to format their essays in the way that many colleges will require. This is Not wasting time.mp4 (as you'll see in the video) because they are using technology in the computer lab to publish their writing which is part of CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 . I'll encourage them to continue to edit their work as they are typing it and to use the tools available in Microsoft Office to help (spelling and grammar check).

I have the benefit of a SmartBoard in some of the computer labs in my school so, I am asking them to do the steps with me as I format my document on the screen.

  1. Open a Word document.
  2. Click in the upper part of the document, and you will be inside the header--you'll see a line across the top.
  3. Go to the upper left of the screen and click "insert page number." When the box drops down, click the 3rd option. (This will put the page number on the upper right hand part of the page.
  4. Type your last name to the left of the page number and put a space between your name and the page number. Close the header.
  5. Go to where you see the font style and size. Change the font style to Times New Roman and the size to 12 point.
  6. Go to the upper middle of the screen under the icons that look like paragraphs. Click on paragraph. When the box opens go down to spacing. Click double space. Also click the small box that says "Don't add a space between paragraphs of the same style." Click OK.
  7. Begin typing your first and last name on the upper left hand side of the page. Click Enter.
  8. Type the instructor's name: "Mrs. Stanton." Click enter.
  9. Type your class and period. Click enter.
  10. Type the date in the following format: 18 October 2013 . Click enter.
  11. Go back up to the small paragraph icons at the top of the screen. Click on the second one to center the cursor. Type the title of your essay. (Here's when I have to say, your title is not Essay or the name of the poem. You have to develop an original title.) Click enter.
  12. Go back up to the paragraph icons and change it back to the first one (left justified). Click the tab key. I'll remind them to hit tab every time they start a new paragraph, and not to skip spaces between paragraphs.

Application: Typing the Essay

60 minutes

During this time, I am giving students the bulk of the class period to type their essays. I am choosing to spend this time to ensure that formatting is correct and to give them the experience of publishing their own work--without the help of a parent or older sibling. I really want them to be prepared to publish their own work beyond my class--and maybe I also want to impress their 10th grade teachers next year. I'm hovering in true teacher bird fashion and reading passages from their work. I'm also catching minor formatting issues as they type. This  time is also ideal for some one-on-one time with students that might be struggling or overwhelmed by this process.