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Garden City School Library: Stop Copying!

Essential Question

What is plagiarism, and how can I avoid it?

Lesson 1 - Okay or No Way?

  • Introduction: Ask the kids to explain what plagiarism is and to give examples. Explain that words, artwork, and music can all be plagiarized. For example, a couple of years ago, Ed Sheeran was accused of plagiarizing the melody of a song. What do the students think? Listen here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKAvfGvJWGA

    Plagiarism can have serious consequences. In Ed's case, he was sued for $20 million! (The case was settled out of court.) In your case, it could mean failing an assignment. As you get older, it could mean failing a class or losing a job. So how can you avoid it?

    There are two main ways to avoid plagiarism when it comes to words:

    1. Use quotation marks around the exact words you took from the original.
    2. Put the original into your own words.

    Either way, you should credit your source.


    NOTE: Be prepared to get questions about music licensing for commercials, which amusement parks can have rides with which characters, and more.
     
  • Assessment: Hand out the "Okay or No Way?" assignment from CommonSense Media's original curriculum lesson "Whose Is It, Anyway?". As the students choose their answers in their groups, walk around the tables and make note of how many situations they have assessed correctly.

    4 = all four correct 
    3 = three correct
    2 = two correct
    1 = one correct
     
  • Discussion: Go over the correct answers.

P A R A Phrase

Lesson 2 - What Do YOU Say?

  • Review: Remind the students that we've been discussing plagiarism. Ask for a definition/example. Then ask for suggestions of how to avoid copying. Tell them that today, we'll practice paraphrasing, or putting things into our own words. 
     
  • Activity: Go through this slide deck with four sentences to paraphrase as a class, emphasizing that a good vocabulary will help students more easily come up with different ways to state ideas. With the original sentence on the screen, ask someone to put it into their own words. They will likely just stick in some synonyms here and there. That is not paraphrasing. The entire sentence structure should not be the same.
     
  • Assessment: Give students a copy of the assessment, which asks them to put two sentences into their own words. Read through it and see if anyone needs any of the original words defined. When correcting, highlight or underline where the students plagiarized.

    4 = Well constructed sentence that shows an absolute grasp of the original's meaning.

    3 = Most of the words / order have changed, and it sounds like the student understood the original's general meaning.

    2 = Many words have been changed, but the sentence structure is still very similar.

    1 = So much highlighting / underlining. They maybe changed a couple of words.

  • Discussion: When everyone is done, go over how they could have phrased each section of the original (e.g., instead of "during my earlier years," say "when I was younger"). If you have time left, you can give them copies of other classes' sentences and ask for a critique. How would they grade them?
  • Follow-up: Email the students links to two sites that can help them increase their vocabulary: freerice.com, which will donate to the World Food Programme for each correct answer; and vocabulary.com, where you can create an account and play on behalf of Oak Lawn in a national contest.

Lesson 3 - In Your Own Words

  • Review: Remind the students that we've been discussing plagiarism. Ask for a definition/example. Then ask for suggestions of how to avoid copying. 
     
  • Assessment: Give students a copy of the assessment, which asks them to put two sentences into their own words. Read through it and see if anyone needs any of the original words defined. When correcting, highlight or underline where the students plagiarized.

    4 = Well constructed sentence that shows an absolute grasp of the original's meaning.
    3 = Most of the words / order have changed, and it sounds like the student understood the original's general meaning.
    2 = Many words have been changed, but the sentence structure is still very similar.
    1 = So much highlighting / underlining. They maybe changed a couple of words.


  • Discussion: When everyone is done, go over how they could have phrased each section of the original (e.g., instead of "during my earlier years," say "when I was younger"). If you have time left, you can give them copies of other classes' sentences and ask for a critique. How would they grade them?

Standards Addressed

AASL I.B.3 - Generate products that illustrate learning; III.A.2 - Develop new understandings through engagement in a learning group; III.D.1 - Actively contribute to group discussions; V.B.1 - Problem solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection; VI - Demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products.

Rhode Island Core: ‚ÄčSL4.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; SL4.2. - Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats

Rhode Island Cross-Curricular Proficiencies: Communication - Communicate understanding and interpretation of information; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking - Implement a plan or process of approach using tools and information.

Rhode Island School Library Curriculum Priority Skills3.2 - Actively contributes to group discussions; 3.3 - Uses strategies to avoid plagiarizing by summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, and crediting the information used.