Since I was absent for the last class period, I will begin today by reviewing the last class period with students and allowing them to ask any questions that they encountered while revising their background and introduction sections and drafting their claim sections. Allowing students free and open time to ask questions and collaboratively solve problems is crucial in my classroom and to the Common Core, which advocates students to engage genuinely in activities as critical thinkers and problem-solvers. With all of the work we've done with argumentative outlining, building paragraphs with an appropriate mix of evidence and student-voice, and integrating quotes, I don't anticipate tons of questions, but I've been proven wrong before.
A few of the questions that I do anticipate hearing which will need to be answered by me include:
After we address whatever questions students have, we will move on to our revision time for today. Students will be given about 15 minutes to look for and eliminate the following features from their papers:
I will encourage students to use the sources we used last time and digital "shortcuts" like CTRL+F to quickly find these errors in their documents.
One of the biggest issues that I routinely face with the research paper is with successful paraphrasing. I'm not sure where exactly it's happening, but it seems that somewhere my students are learning that they can either drop in whole chunks of direct quotes (in quotation marks) into their papers OR slightly change or reword information from a source and include it as their own words (with or without citation). I've been fighting this battle all year, but we will continue "the good fight" today by looking specifically at this misconception about paraphrasing. This is also an ideal time to address plagiarism in general (again!). I will show students the following video from Melissa Huseman D'Annunzio and TED Ed to clarify common forms of plagiarism that students routinely use in courses not actively looking for them.
After the video, students can ask questions or get clarification before moving on with the proper paraphrasing activity below.
First, I will write the following sentence, which comes from the PEW research article we're using today as one of our examples, on the board to provide an example of this type of egregious error.
In addition, Millennials and Gen Xers are less likely than older generations to say that a child needs a home with both a father and a mother present to grow up happily.
Then, I will change the sentence to an improper paraphrase on the board using a "think aloud" model that students may (WRONGLY!) use. I try to make this humorous to avoid being condescending, but it's so helpful for students to see this practice that they think is acceptable being modeled and called out as wrong. Without the "think aloud," they sometimes think that what they are doing is different, and therefore, acceptable. We're here today to tell them it's not. I will use lots of comments like "hmmm, what's another way to say this..." and "well I'll just switch this around..." and even Google specific terms like "Millennials" and "Gen Xers" to find out what ages that would make them now to "replace" those terms.
Also, when compared to previous generations, people like the Gen Xers, born between the 1960s and 1980, and Millennials, born between the 1980s and early 1990s, think it's less necessary for two parents to be in the home in order to be happy as they grow up.
This example will illustrate a couple of things for students. First, it's blazingly apparent that when sentences are "remixed" like this, they are structurally WORSE. The amount of commas and lack of concise, formal language is a dead giveaway for remixing. It should be obvious to students that the original author was as concise as possible, so it's going to be darn near impossible to reword it any better than they already have. Also, it shows how "remixing" really does fit the profile for plagiarizing. There is no way to remix without purposefully taking the author's ideas and structure and pretending they are your own. This will be an important clarification moving forward, as if students do this in their papers, you can return to this particular class day to show that they were both aware of what remixing was and the direct correlation to plagiarism. (Can you tell I've fought this battle before??)
Next, we will practice as a class how to correctly paraphrase using the same PEW research article and an article from The Atlantic. I chose these articles because they are both interesting and "data heavy," which students find particularly difficult to paraphrase without plagiarizing. All students will pull up the research articles. Additionally, I will open the "How to Paraphrase, not Plagiarize" image and "Using Source Material Without Plagiarizing Process" sheet, which we will use to practice making some collaborative paraphrases. In order to walk through this example, we will follow the procedure below.
For the remainder of the class period, students will have time to work on drafting their counterclaim and revision sections. Here, students should focus on both fairly and accurately representing the counterclaim's points and respectfully rebutting those points with evidence. I will reiterate my suggestion that if they have an concessions, they place them between the claim and counterclaim sections as well. I will individually meet with students that I've seen struggling during this time as well.
Before students check out for the day, I want to get some feedback on how this new paraphrasing activity is going. I will informally ask students for feedback on the process and how it differs from what they do in other classes or have done for previous papers. I anticipate that many students will be surprised at how much more work it seems like at the beginning, but I will encourage them to persevere! Year after year, students who push through this process reflect on their own writing with so much more pride than students who do the minimum and simply string together other people's words.
As they are walking out, I will also want to reiterate how vital it is that they arrive with complete drafts (sans introductions and conclusions) for next time, as we will be completing a peer review activity.
Before next class period, I will make a goal for myself to review and comment on at least 1/3 of my students' digital drafts. Every year I review and comment on every student's draft before they submit their final drafts, but this year I'm slightly concerned about my ability to get this done with such huge class numbers. I will try to get SOME of the students' work commented on before next class period to try to offset some of this gigantic load, and I will also again reach out to students who are struggling with their drafts to come in for extra help appointments after school. I've found that it's so much easier to work with students who are struggling in a few hours after school than it is to grade struggling students' work, both in formative and summative settings. If students aren't welcoming of my extra help, I will reach out to parents to try to facilitate this if it all possible.