Talk show activity helps with Annotated Bibliography

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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When I teach annotated bibliography, I have the class do a "talk show" activity. I ask students to imagine that they are producers of a morning talk show, and I give each small group their topic for the day. To one group, I say your show is going to be on whether to continue music instruction as part of the public school curriculum, to another group I say, your show is going to tackle how to protect the American drinking water supply, and so forth.

The job of the producers is to think about who they're going to invite to be a guest on their show. What experts do they need? What angles should they explore? What statistics would be helpful? We talk about how dull it would be to have 7 different guests who all say that music ed is a waste of taxpayer money or how people would turn the show off if they heard only a bunch of data about water quality. We also talk about the value of having leading thinkers on our talk show. While an occasional regular consumer or parent is fine, audiences generally respond better to scientists, researchers, doctors, and psychologists. The class activity is for each group of producers to compose and present a proposal to the class (acting as the talk show executives). They have to present a guest list and rationale for each guest.

The activity gets students to think actively about gathering sources and thinking through the roles that they need their sources to play in a project. Too often students hunt for sources that are all in "the same lane," as I say in class; they all sort of line up with the student's own thesis. The activity also goes along nicely with our reading, sections R1 and R3 in A Writer's Referenceespecially the subsections on search strategy and thinking about the variety of ways in which sources contribute to a project (as support, as counterargument, as data, as definition, and so on). 

Are there activities that you find useful as you prepare to teach annotated bibliography?