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Topic: Plagarism and Motivating Students Who Just Don't Care

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Subject: Plagarism and Motivating Students Who Just Don't Care
Date Posted: 10/22/2010 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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Okay, so this is part venting and part plea for help.

I teach high school English and have my students do eight book reports a year.  The book reports are worth a total of 20% of the student's grades, and I try to vary them by allowing students to choose what they want to do (for example, on the current book report, they have a list of 10 things and have to choose two).  I don't think they are difficult, and these kids are mostly Seniors.  Today, I was grading their past book reports and here are my statistics for one class:  two did not complete the book report, three copied and pasted from the internet, five got average grades and one had a perfect assignment.  I give them time in class to read, and time in class to work.  I just don't understand the logic of my students. 

I am also having issues with them not turning in or completing their daily work, which we go over every day in class.  I read the answers aloud!  All they have to do is listen and correct their answers...yet they won't do even this.  I'm just frustrated and I don't know what to do.  My midterm exam was open note, they could use past worksheets on it.  The majority (80%) of the questions were from the worksheets, yet about 1/2 of my students still managed to fail it...they just didn't bother to take the time to look up the answers. 

On the plagiarism front, I had a couple of students that were caught on the first book report, so I spent nearly a week going over what plagiarism is and outlined exactly what the consequences would be again (I cover it at the beginning of the year too).  I lectured, we discussed, they took notes and they took a quiz.  Yet they are still copying and pasting, thinking that they won't get caught.   It is simply unbelievable.  Do you have problems with this in your classrooms? 

All of these students need my class to graduate, so it isn't like they can afford to fail it.  I don't know how to motivate students that don't seem to care.  I try to make my class enjoyable, but they do not want to do anything, even if it is something fun, like making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

Thanks for listening.  Any ideas?

Last Edited on: 10/23/10 7:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 10/23/2010 7:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2010
Posts: 10
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 I have no advice but just wanted you to know that you have my sympathy. My wife also teaches high school English and is often driven to tears of frustration.

The good news is that I did hand in a perfect assignment, at least someone cares.

Good luck.

Date Posted: 10/26/2010 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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The son of one of my best women friends turned in a plagiarized piece of poetry for an assignment to write an original bit of 'poetry'-----ANY form or length to be of the student's choosing.  I told his mother that it was NOT original work by her son (it was a fairly well-known bit of children's verse).  She refused to accept that the bit of imagery in it which had so charmed her was not something the kid had thought up.   Sure, I could have gone to the library and found an anthology that included that scrap of verse to show to her, but . . . . . . . .disillusion a doting mom and lose a friend?  Another instance of "damned if you DO, and damned if you DON'T".

Last Edited on: 10/26/10 6:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/9/2010 12:00 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2010
Posts: 238
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Fail them and do it with a clean conscience. 

They're in the wrong, not you.  At the beginning of each semester, my students sign a document acknowleding that if they are found to have plagarized, they will recieve an F. I'm not an English teacher (obviously), but I spend a good 30 minutes on the first day reviewing what this entails and how dumb it is to risk their academic futures.  I work in higher ed, so they also risk removal from the school.  Not sure how much you can get away with in h.s., but I'd also send a note home with parents at the beginning of the semester as well. Tell them up front: your kid cheats, he fails.

Last Edited on: 12/12/10 3:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
Posts: 18,833
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Our school is working on  a policy for plagiarism.  The problem is getting worse all the time.  With the internet, it's so much easier for kids to cheat today.

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Nicole:  Even before the Internet, that cyber-marketplace where a lazy student could 'buy' a theme, students found ways around having to put thoughts down on paper for a writing assignment.  I distinctly remember seeing a film on television about a certain British "royal" (a princeling) who much preferred to spend his time at college at the theater or music-hall or some other revelry, and not 'in chambers' doing his homework.  Guess who produced the required papers he handed in as his own?  His valet, or 'bat man' or whatever the British term for that male personal attendant is!   At least the poor servingman got some education out of it, for he had to audit the Prince's classes in order to know what the devil to write about!

Last Edited on: 1/11/11 8:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1