Citing Sources and Plagiarism
Lesson 1 of 8
Objective: Students will be able to avoid plagiarism by quoting or paraphrasing sources' words and attributing credit using the MLA format.
In your topic sentence, identify the topic of your National History Day project. In your concrete evidence, explain where you got your information (resource). You will be listing your resources by title and name (website or author). In commentary, explain why did you use these resources. Wrap up your paragraph with a concluding sentence.
My school has participated in National History Day project for a few years. This is the first year that the English and history departments are collaborating on this project together. There are lots of kinks that we still need to work out!
Students researched their topic during social studies class from August until October. They wrote their rough drafts in social studies. In English, we focused on citing sources, the basic organization of a five paragraph essay, and conventions. Today we looked at citing sources and plagiarism, a very big problem at my school.
Their rough drafts were due in social studies a week ago. We left a week in between when the drafts were due in social studies and when we started working on them in English to help the kids who weren't quite ready get ready. I may or may not have chortled that it was my goal to send at least one student to ETL every day for not having their rough draft every day. (Day 1: Only four students out of 110 did not have their rough draft.)
The first thing we asked students to do was read through their rough drafts and highlight (with yellow highlighter!) all the facts that they got from somewhere else. They looked at us blankly. It's research, right? It all came from somewhere else, right? So we asked some more questions to help them through:
- What did you specifically learn from a book or website?
- What did you copy and paste from a website?
- What did you not know before you started researching this project?
Here's a picture to show a the stuff they highlighted. As you can see, many of them got all their information from somewhere else. We have a lot of work to do here. A lot of work.
After students finished highlighting, we dropped the bomb on them. Everything that they'd highlighted? It was possibly plagiarized. It was probably plagiarized.
The room got real quiet. Real quiet. They've been told for years that plagiarism is serious business. Very serious business. And now they've plagiarized? At this point, the quiet became rumblings of discontent, and shouts of "What?" "But. . .what do I DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?"
Citing Evidence Accurately
"WHAT DO I DO?"
"My mom wouldn't let me plagiarize!"
"But that's what the bibliography is for!"
After a minute of genuine freak out, we calmed the students down. "It's okay. We're going to help you. It's going to be okay."
And we went into the PowerPoint that my student teacher created using information from the 7th edition of the MLA handbook. We focused on four ways that student may have plagiarized without intending to.
They may have
- repeated or paraphrased text without giving the author credit
- used a well-written phrase without giving the author credit
- used an author's argument or claim without giving the author credit
- copied and pasted from the Internet without giving the author credit
We showed them quick ways to fix their plagiarism. They could
- put quotation marks around the exact words they'd used and mention the author's name in the sentence or in parentheses
- paraphrase the information and put the author's name in the sentence or in parentheses
Fixing the Plagarism
We gave them an outline. Apparently I like outlines. I may like PowerPoints more than outlines, but I do love outlines. Especially outlines with text-boxes. I love text-boxes. Text-boxes, outlines, and PowerPoints. Could you ask for anything more?
"YES, WE COULD ASK FOR MORE. WE COULD ASK FOR HOW WE CAN FIX THIS SO WE DON'T GO TO JAIL OR GET KICKED OUT OF COLLEGE OR GET KICKED OUT MIDDLE SCHOOL. STOP TALKING ABOUT TEXT-BOXES!"
"AND DO WE HAVE ANY HOMEWORK?"
So we gave them an outline. The outline has all the parts of the essay-introduction, body, and conclusion. We jumped right to the body paragraphs.
We instructed them to take the highlighted facts from the rough draft (the concrete evidence) and write it in the concrete evidence boxes using one of the strategies we'd learned to fix the plagiarism.
- put quotes around the stuff they copied and pasted and embedding the author/website's name in the sentence or placing the name in parentheses
- paraphrase the important information as well as embedding the author/website's within the sentence or placing the name in parentheses
Whatever they didn't finish in class was homework.
To provide closure, we asked students to list two strategies they could use to cite their sources correctly.
- Identify the author or website in the sentence itself.
- Identify the author/website and page number in parentheses.
Today's lesson picture is a collage of student pictures. I took pictures of a bunch of students' papers after they had highlighted the parts of their essays that came from an outside source and then put them into fancy collage.