Saturday, July 6, 2013


Cheating in your class (WRITING)

Even SpongeBob struggles with starting
Why do students plagiarize? Maybe I’m naïve, but I believe it is because many times they don’t know how to use sources properly. Another common reason is they don’t know where to start. Moreover, when students don’t manage their time well and leave the entire essay for the night before, plagiarism is an easy answer.

Some teachers don't worry about their students plagiarizing because they use a plagiarism checker. However, these only punish plagiarism; they don’t prevent it. As an analogy, they’re like seat belts; they don’t prevent accidents, but they do help if an accident occurs.

Plagiarism checkers are also pretty useless against bought essays. If these are well written, they don’t show up as plagiarized. Lucky for teachers, often these aren’t well written and are sold to more than one student. Those do show up as plagiarized via plagiarism checkers.

How do we keep students honest? If a student really wants to cheat, they will find a way to cheat. However, you can scaffold your class so that in the end writing the essay is easier than cheating!

This schedule is made up of ten days, but you can combine days.

In my classes we practice grammar, literature and essay writing, so these days aren’t back to back.

Before you start, tell students they should save EVERY assignment as each assignment is due with the draft and final copy.

DAY ONE- The assignment. We go over the requirements, multiple deadlines, and write a few sample theses as a class. HOMEWORK Come up with a good thesis statement and a few prospective topic sentences. 

DAY TWO-Finding a good source.  This lesson focuses on good sources versus bad sources. We cover the basics as well as the exceptions. By now, you should have looked over their thesis statements and said whose was a good start and whose needed work. If some need work offer them the chance to change it now. Homework: Find a good source that is about your topic. It doesn’t need to completely support your opinion, but it should be a GOOD source in English. Bring in a photocopy of the cover page and a random page if it is a hardcopy or online in PDF. Print one page of the article if it is an electronic source (include the URL and author). LAST CHANCE to change theses.

DAY THREE- Citation. I take this lesson to discuss why plagiarism is bad. We look at current pop culture examples of plagiarism and the punishments. How to prevent this? Attribute your sources. Show parenthetical citation, in text citation and a Works Cited page. Homework: Have them find another source in English and make a Works Cited page with their two sources.

DAY FOUR- Quoting. Teach your students WHEN to quote and more importantly when NOT to quote. Show them how to integrate a quote into a paragraph. Advise them AGAINST translating something from another language into English and then quoting it. Homework: Find another good source in English. Find something to quote from two of the three sources. Write sample sentences integrating them into a real sentence AND using parenthetical and in text citation (one each). Add the new source to your Works Cited page.

DAY FIVE- Paraphrasing- MAKE SURE they know that paraphrasing needs to be attributed. Often they feel since the words are theirs now they don’t need to give credit. Point out It is AWESOME to use when they find something useful in their L1 (mother tongue).  Homework: Find another good source in any language and paraphrase it (make sure to use in text or parenthetical citations). Add the new source to your Works Cited page.

DAY SIX- Summarizing. Again, MAKE SURE they attribute when summarizing. It also a GREAT option to use if they find something useful in their L1. Homework: Find another good source in any language and summarize it (make sure to use in text or parenthetical citations). Add the new source to your Works Cited page.

DAY SEVEN- Outline. I like doing this in class, but you can assign it as homework. I discourage using full sentences for the main ideas and details unless it is one of the quotes, summaries or paraphrases they’ve already submitted.

DAY EIGHT- Peer Review. I also like to do these in class, but sometimes there’s no time. In that case it becomes extra credit. I put up worksheets for peer reviews that walk them through a series of questions (Is every quote integrated? Is the thesis specific? Is the Works Cited page on a separate page? Etc.) If they swap papers with a classmate and review the other person’s essay, I give then some extra credit. I find these are more effective than self-reviews.

DAY NINE- Draft. Some teachers don’t collect drafts; I do. Be sure to collect EVERYTHING with the draft. This way you can see the progression of your students’ thoughts. Run anything that looks iffy through a plagiarism checker. Otherwise be sure to pay close attention to attributions as well as essay structure and grammar.

DAY TEN- Final. I make final essays optional. If a student is happy with their grade on the draft, I transfer the draft grade to their final essay grade. This saves me the hassle of writing, “You didn’t change ANYTHING” on a final essay and getting cranky. If a student wants to fix their essay and improve their grade, they turn in a final copy (again with EVERYTHING).

Grading: How do I give a grade? I usually put everything towards the essay grade. For example: Each good source, paraphrase, summary, quote goes into “Essay Preparation”
Essay Preparation- 5%
Peer Review- 5%
Outline- 15%
Draft- 25%
Final- 50%
The scale is designed so passing is easily achieved and students have to do the work along the way if they want a great grade.

Regardless of how you break down the grade, be sure students have this on DAY 1 when you give the assignment.

Each of these topics will be covered with an in depth idea of how to teach each of these days during the month of July.

How do you prevent plagiarism on assignments?

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