Notes on MLA Formatting

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Students will take notes and practice with the formatting features of the Modern Language Association in preparation for their position essays.

Big Idea

MLA? What's That?

Anticipatory Set

10 minutes

When students arrive to class, I have them take out the articles they plan to use in their upcoming writing assignment. I ask them to pick a quote for each side of the argument, from each text and mark it for future reference. This means, for example, if a student is using 2 articles, they will mark a 2 quotes in each for a total of 4 marked passages.

When we discuss in-text citation and the Works Cited page, we will use the students' own texts as our examples rather than some generic example I make up for them. 



Instructional Input

35 minutes

Once all students have selected at least four sections/passages/quotes from their articles to use as reference, I have them take out a sheet of lined paper and set up Cornell notes on the back side. I have them set up the notes on the back side of the page because I will have them use the front side for specific notes on formatting and document set-up.

The key concepts I address in my lecture are: plagiarism, quotation, paraphrasing, in-text citation, and how to set up a document in MLA format, most of which is covered explicitly in the MLA Guide document.

When we get to the in-text citation portion of the lesson, I have students practice with the sections of their resource texts they selected to start class. 

We then move on the the appropriate page formatting, i.e. margins, heading, header, font size, font type, etc.  

I have found it most effective to show them on the Smart Board, step-by-step, how to set up the document in MLA format. I break it up into chunks, and have the students talk us through it after I show it once. I show them the first few steps on one Word doc, and then I have a second doc open where the students are able to practice setting it up. 

Once we have gone through the entire document, piece-by-piece, I open a third document and have them walk us through the entire process all at once, one more time. 



5 minutes

To wrap up the day's lesson, I have the students begin the MLA-Format-Work-Sheet that lets them practice with creating different entry types on a Works Cited page. The worksheet gives them example texts with all the information they may need for citation.