MLA, NoodleTools, and lots of change
Last year, I spent a great deal of time educating teachers and students about our online databases. We are fortunate in Gwinnett to have access to many. But as I walked around and watched kids either look at a computer screen and then write notecards by hand, or copy and paste random text into Word, I realized something was missing. There was a disconnect between finding the articles they needed and then transferring that info into a usable format. And kids were plagiarizing right and left and didn’t realize it.
I looked at colleges around here and every single one had some sort of online support for the research process. That led me to NoodleTools (via Buffy Hamilton’s suggestion). I convinced the “powers that be” to purchase a subscription to NoodleTools out of technology funds for our school this year. I was hopeful that this would ultimately help students research better and understand how not to plagiarize – once I got kids trained.
Little did I know the training would start the second week of school! I had one teacher who was somewhat resistant, 4 classes, 2 of them ESOL, and little time to prep. But we made it through. And though a tool like NoodleTools takes a good bit of one-on-one training, by the end of the week I had won over 3 teachers, students of all ability levels, and myself. I was worn-out, but happy knowing that perhaps I helped kids become better researchers. Even just a little bit.
I still have paper MLA resources in the library and on our webpage- from works cited to an example essay to parenthetical citations – all of which NoodleTools does. I think I’d be remiss to not appeal to the kids who find something like NoodleTools overwhelming, especially during this year of trying NoodleTools out for the first time. However, I think the majority of kids will want to use this once exposed to it. As the teacher who was resistant at the beginning of the week said, “While I would rather take notes on notecards, these kids would rather take notes on the computer. They are picking it up quickly and working faster than if we were doing traditional notecards.”
And though this sounds like an advertisement for NoodleTools, I really just wanted to share that I’ve found what works for me to help teachers and students with research and the disconnect between finding articles and taking notes. This program gives me an “in” with teachers – something tangible that lightens their load and helps students. And that is a good thing.
Collins Hill High School