Reflection: Complex Tasks Plagiarism Prevention & Grammar Help with - Section 2: Building Knowledge


My first year teaching in this district, I faced a massive problem: plagiarism was rampant.  And when I say rampant, I mean RAMPANT.  I fought a lot of battles to keep academic integrity in tact, and lucky, my administration was very supportive of my endeavors.  A few things came from those battles.  First, our building started to have some truly open discussions about academic integrity and plagiarism, which has been pretty productive.  Though departmentally we're not all on the same page, at least people are talking about it and teachers are communicating with other teachers to see what's happening in their rooms.  Another outcome is that I came to realize how important documentation was to protecting me as a teacher.  In all reality, the only thing that probably saved me from complete chaos with the plagiarism issues in my first year was my documentation.  I could produce over a dozen ways that students had shown mastery in documentation, paraphrasing, and integration of quotes, and I had countless lessons and handouts clearly stating the penalties for purposeful or accidental plagiarism.  In my hand-written comments on drafts (since this was before we converted to a digital environment), I circled all issues that MAY be considered plagiarism and wrote that it needed to be changed or they would earn a 0%.  I was INSANE about this, and luckily, it saved me.  I would encourage every teacher to be vigilant with documentation as well. 

One thing that DID change as a result of my first year's experience was my increased use of  At my administrator's request, I instituted this "Plagiarism Prevention" activity.  While it does pretty much the same thing I do in comments, he thought that it would be an outside source that would confirm my suggestions.  The first year I used it, I thought it was kind of pointless, but I did it because I was told to do it.  THIS year, however, I figured out how to better use to make this activity incredibly valuable to students by using the "Revisions" submissions and the Grademark report.  These activities really help students to independently apply their grammar knowledge and research skills in an environment that gives them the extra help to identify what might need fixing.  Students persist with their revisions because they have this drive to make the purple marks disappear, which isn't always the case in other types of revisions (like peer revisions or teacher-initiated revisions).  Ultimately, I'm very grateful that my administrator suggested this extra step and that I figured out a way to make it more valuable for both me and my students.

If you decide to incorporate activities like these, I would strongly suggest that you either make (or steal from me!) videos showing what students need to do and what results mean.  My students don't always listen carefully in class (shock!), so when they have questions later, it's so great to just refer them to a video.  Additionally, if parents are trying to help their kids revise, they likely aren't aware of what results like these actually mean.  I've had parents advise their children to do literally every item on the "Don't Do This" list.  While they're doing it out of a good place, they're not helping.  I'm a big believer in giving students resources, demonstrations, and directions, then making them use those to find their own answers.  Even the Common Core promotes the idea that students need to get used to using a variety of media to solve problems and answer questions, so it's clearly important that they demonstrate these skills in the classroom as well. 

  Enabling Students to be Independent Learners with Online Resources
  Complex Tasks: Enabling Students to be Independent Learners with Online Resources
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Plagiarism Prevention & Grammar Help with

Unit 7: Drafting & Revising the Argumentative Research Paper
Lesson 5 of 7

Objective: SWBAT revise and edit research papers to ensure originality, proper citations, accurate attribution, and proper use of grammar using and critical evaluation skills.

Big Idea: Do your students a favor & help them become more self-sufficient evaluators with online tools like and video tutorials!

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