Reflection: Rules and Consequences Who Are You Calling Disobedient? Mini-Research Project (Day 3 of 3) - Section 2: Introduction


Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is graded as a 0%. 

While this rule is hard-and-fast for the research paper, I am treating this assignment as a more formative assessment with citations, so while I will tell students that the automatic-zero policy will hold true, it will not unless I can see the plagiarism was purposeful and intentional rather than just sloppy citations.  In years past, I have let them know it was formative with disastrous consequences (like no citations at all!), so now I do "fib" to them.  Students should already be in the habit of citing work, but it is honestly and truly like pulling teeth at times.  There comes a point when they simply MUST DO IT.  They know how.  They can come see me for help.  Resources abound for their help.  I take a very firm stand on cheating and plagiarism in general (which is SO EASY TO FIND with the internet and with all students using Google Drive!), but it does take a massive amount of time to help students make the right decisions to put in the effort, cite responsibility, and produce original work.  

That said, I do not enjoy handing out zeros to students, though I do it when I have to.  My first year teaching in this district, several students were shocked when they received a 0% on the final research paper for plagiarism.  Since that year, I have gone out of my way to ensure that students have numerous opportunities to avoid their predecessors' fate (though even in those cases, they had drafts with warnings from me, peer reviews, lessons, etc.).  Part of this project's design was to ensure that all students were proficient in citations before we start the research paper next quarter, which is a large enough assignment that it could potentially result in semester and will almost certainly result in a failed quarter if they earn a 0 on it.  If students do not properly cite their work on this project, it will signal to me that I need to reteach this concept either on a whole-class or individual-student level.  (They will also be docked some points for it using the rubric.)  It will also open up a line of "danger zone" communication between myself, students, and parents to let them know of the potential consequences for not fixing this issue on future projects.  I try to be as transparent as possible with students and parents about plagiarism, as it is often a very delicate subject.  Some of my go-to tips on preventing major parent miscommunications on the topic of plagiarism are listed below!

Avoiding a Plagiarism Ordeal

1. Develop a school-wide or at least department-wide plagiarism policy and enforcement plan.  Share it with as many people as possible, including your administrator.  The more people that help to create and enforce the policy, the better.  If your school would be open to developing a "Plagiarism Prevention" module for students to learn the specific to the expectations and procedures in your school, get crafty and do it!

2. Use a platform like if your school can swing the subscription fee.  This kind of service is helpful (especially because it indexes old papers too!), but it can be misleading to students at times since it tells them a "percentage" that is the same as elsewhere (which leads them to ask "how high can my percent be of plagiarized material?" instead of considering whether or not each piece of highlighted text is actually plagiarized).  In response to my first year with this district, all students submit their research papers (a faux "final copy") to for a "plagiarism check," penalty-free, then have 48 hours to revise and eliminate any actual plagiarism.

3. Start talking about plagiarism--what it is, what it means, why it's scary--from Day 1.

4. Link resources for parents and students on avoiding plagiarism on your website and review this material's availability during your Open House night.

5. Keep a log of when (and how) you covered avoiding plagiarism in your classroom in case any issues arise later in the year.

6. Make sure to approach plagiarism-prevention as a real-world life lesson that will be needed in college and beyond.  I always feel horrible when I catch plagiarism, but at the same time, I know part of my job as a high school teacher is to make sure they're ready for college.  In college, plagiarism can cost you thousands in lost tuition and can lead to immediate expulsion.  If you have a roommate/ex-boyfriend/friend story from college about this topic, SHARE IT!  I do, and it's important for them to know real consequences.

7. Create quizzes for students where they must show proficiency in identifying when material must be cited, if it's a paraphrase/summary/direct quote, what common knowledge is, and proper citations.  If students do not pass the assessment, reteach and assess until they pass it.

8. Be watchful for plagiarism and cheating throughout the year, and punish it consistently when you see it.  The rules are the same for everyone.  The more consistent we are, the less it happens.

9. If you see plagiarism, CONFIRM WHERE IT WAS PLAGIARIZED FROM and notify students immediately and in writing (like via email) explaining generally what has happened and that you'd like to set up a meeting to discuss it with them.  Email or call parents as well, letting them know the issue and that you've extended an invite to meet with their child.

10. Make sure you discern "plagiarism" from "cheating."  At my school, they are lumped into the same policy, but parents and students bristle at this parallelism.  Save yourself the "my child's not a cheater" argument by opening with the fact that the definition of plagiarism does not require a malicious intent, like cheating does.  Plagiarism is using other people's ideas without proper attribution, be it intentional or unintentional, and it can only be avoided through responsible citations.

  The Low-Down on Plagiarism Enforcement for this Assignment
  Rules and Consequences: The Low-Down on Plagiarism Enforcement for this Assignment
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Who Are You Calling Disobedient? Mini-Research Project (Day 3 of 3)

Unit 4: Arguing with the Transcendentalists Mini-Unit
Lesson 3 of 7

Objective: SWBAT utilize peer feedback on presentations to revise their presentations and add narration to the slideshow via myBrainshark to enhance viewer interest with appropriate rhetorical skills.

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