I got an email from a student in one of my classes where I've given students an assignment to write a couple annotated bibliography entries. It's a minimally useful skill, but one student should know, right?
The student confessed to having had a similar assignment in a previous class, and to having done badly on the assignment. Without being blameful at all, the student asked for guidance on my assignment so s/he'd do better.
DOH! I think back, and realize that I only ran into such assignments in grad school, and there I was able to talk to more experienced grad students, look in annotated bibliographies, and so learn the basics. But I've never really done a good job articulating the basics for my students. Stupidly, I just assumed they'd learned that along the way. And, of course, most other instructors seem to assume the same.
Now I'm looking for a really good articulation of how to write an annotated bibliography entry. I looked in some of the composition texts I have sitting around, and nothing. Then I looked in some of the research guide texts I have around. One of them mentions writing an annotated bibliography, but doesn't articulate how or why.
And then, like a desperate scholar of the internet age, I hit google, and lo, found this guide from Tidewater Community College's Writing Center.
Nice and clear! I especially like the way it gives a list of things an annotation should include, and then gives two examples (MLA and APA).
Do you teach the basics of writing an annotation? If so, how do you explain what you're after?
Do you have better guides for helping students learn the basics?
Addendum: I asked my students today how many of them had been assigned to write some sort of annotated bibliography thing before, and all hands went up.
Then I asked them how many had been taught how to write an annotated bibliography when they'd been asked to write it. One hand stayed up.
I'm thinking I'm not the only instructor making poor connections around here!