"Keeping the Receipts" and teaching citation

The first time I heard the term "receipts" used to mean evidence (I think it was when we all found out that James Comey had been taking detailed notes on all his conversations with Donald Trump. (https://www.hercampus.com/news/james-comey-has-receipts-prove-trump-tried-stop-fbi-investigation-michael-flynn)), I was disheartened by it. And, as a person who wishes we didn't treat commercial transaction as our reference point for research, and more generally wishes being "consumers" wasn't so central to our identities, I still am. 

However, as a teacher, I'm kind of excited about it, because it's such a clear and familiar metaphor for research and evidence. 

You could start out by asking students for stories about when they've tried to return things, and what happened. Some students will have had infuriating experiences with inflexible clerks, some students will have returned things that they probably shouldn't have. Out of these stories, we'll tease out some important points:

  1. If something doesn't look new, you probably can't return it (this is irrelevant to the discussion of research but it will come up)
  2. Generally, you need to show evidence that you bought the item from the store - a receipt, or they may be able to find your credit card.
  3. The more a store stands to lose, the higher the burden of proof they will put on you as a customer 

From here, we'd want to investigate something immediately compelling. I think it'd be nice to use a graphic organizer with actual "receipts" on it, where you cite your sources. I could see a few approaches to this:

  • A counterintuitive claim about a book we are reading as a class (say, "Junior is actually the villain in ATDPTI") with quotes and page number citations (this is inspired by the classic "Johnny's the real hero of  Karate Kid" video (https://nerdist.com/is-johnny-the-real-hero-of-the-karate-kid/) but I don't think I'd bother showing that video in class, unless of course we'd already watched Karate Kid. 
  • A shocking, true, historical claim ("George Washington wore dentures made out of human teeth")
    • The problem with this one is that everyone will google it and find the same source. But if groups of 3-4 students all investigated different claims (and perhaps we had a few false ones thrown in too) they could "show their receipts"
  • A "Document-based Question" (DBQ) - the old AP History standby. These seem ready-made for this kind of task, but possibly not instantly compelling
  • An "Encyclopedia Brown" mystery

Students could then use their "receipts" graphic organizer to write up an argumentative essay, using the receipts to make either footnotes or parenthetical notation.