Muddling through the blogosphere

January 8, 2011
by blogwalker

Concerned about Students’ Plagarizing? How about a “Writing Fix”?

I love Glogster. I’ve done a number of workshops recently with teachers and students to introduce  this wonderful online poster application.

This week, however, as I was viewing glogs created by a group of 6th graders, I noticed that most the snippets of information in their text boxes did not sound  like 6th grade parlance. So I’m rethinking not just my Glogster workshop, but all of my workshops, on how to best best structure the conversation in a way that reflects my shared belief that “any approach to addressing plagiarism should be anchored by best practices and teaching moments” (Because Digital Writing Matters, DeVoss, Eidman-Aadahl, Hicks, 2010).

NNWP - Dena Harris

NNWP - Dena Harris

Fortunately, as I was pondering starting points for teaching about plagiarism, I took a side trip into the Northern Nevada Writing Project’s Writing Fix website. Their Writing about Reading article was a great starting point. The article references Marzano’s A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works and includes a sampling of lessons and approaches shared  by NNWP Teacher Consultants. My favorite is Dena Harrison’s Don’t Plagiarize! Not Ever! Dena shares two of the A+ reports she wrote while in elementary school (back when we used to copy our reports right out of the encyclopedia – hey, no one taught us how not to plagiarize) and offers students the following challenge:  “If you are up for the challenge, I dare you to click on, then print out this page from my report. Bring it to class and show me how you’d change some of the sentences to give them your (or my) personality.

Well, at some point in my parents’ downsizing years, I guess that box with my state report, country report, etc., got pitched. So I’m thinking I’ll  pull samples from whatever tool I’m actually teaching.  With Glogster, for instance, thanks to their new Categories link, it’s easy to find grade level and subject area samples. Given the brevity of the typical Glogster text box, challenging students to do some rewording could be a very quick, but effective exercise.

As for plagiarism at the secondary level, teachers often share that it’s a constant battle to discourage (or sometimes even to detect) plagiarism. Once again, I’d like to reference Because Digital Writing Matters: “The line between appropriate copying and plagiarism is a human line and cannot be patrolled by machine.” The book includes 7 activities for “situating” plagiarism as a digital world:

  • Ask students to review the academic honesty or plagiarism policies of their school and prepare a one-page overview to guide their work.
  • Engage students in research projects that ask them to define plagiarism and provide example cases and their repercussions.
  • Create an in-class role play where students present and deliberate upon cases of potential plagiarism.
  • Have students learn about the dimensions of plagiarism by doing it and reflecting on it.  For instance, have students read an example piece that offers definitions of paraphrasing, patchwriting, and plagiarism, and ask them to select chunks of text, purposely creating their own examples of each type of plagiarism. Then have students explain what made these practices plagiarism as opposed to acceptable use.
  • Ask students to review and evaluate the usefulness, correctness, and adequacy of online tutorials about plagiarism.  If there’s time, have students construct an online tutorial on plagiarism for their peers.
  • Give students a piece of digital media and have them trace the sources drawn upon or remixed – including recognizable influences, sampled work, quoted test, others’ photographs or artwork, and so forth.  Great examples include mashed or remixed moved trailers and the work the of musician Girl Talk (Gregg Michael Gillis).
  • Have students compile and online resource for plagiarism examples and issues; consider publishing this online and adding to it each semester.

If you have resources for helping student writers hone their digital writing and digital citizenship skills, please share.

November 7, 2010
by blogwalker

Because Digital Writing Matters

On this rainy Sunday afternoon, I’m about to curl up in front of the fireplace and delve into my hot-off-the-press copy of the National Writing Project’s Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments. Through my on-going affiliation with the NWP, I’ve been privileged to work with, listen to, and learn from all three authors: visionary educators Danielle Nicole DeVoss, Elys Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks.

I have the book open in front of me and am already pulling the cap off my highlighter pen to mark basically all of page 1, Introduction: Why Digital Writing Matters, and have copied onto a sticky note that “‘much has changed in the landscape of what it means to ‘write’ and to ‘be a writer’ since 2003.

While BDWM is certainly a stand-alone read, my plan is to extend the introduction, each off the five chapters, and the afterword with side trips to the NWP’s much awaited Digital Is website. Over the next few weeks I’d like to create and post an annotated tour of BDWM via the Digital Is lessons, stories, resources, and insights.  I’m only 2 pages in to the book, but am already thinking that Bud Hunt’s piece What’s New, or What’s Good: On Writing Connectively will be one of my side trips for the Introduction.

If you’re also reading BDWM and touring the Digital Is site, I’d love to hear how you would annotate the chapters!

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