inquiring minds

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Plagiarism and Paraphrasing Lesson

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Research skills can be tricky to teach, especially to younger students.

No research skill is more tricky than avoiding plagiarism by paraphrasing and citing your sources. Our final unit is under the transdiciplinary theme of Sharing the Planet. Our students choose a plant or animal to research and they write a report about their species. We look at many research skills, from finding reliable sources and creative commons images to taking and organising notes.

With my grade 2 students, I managed to put together a successful series of lessons to introduce the idea of plagiarism and how to avoid it.

I wanted to share it here, so that other teachers can get an idea of how they might tackle this topic with their students, and also because it relates to my Unit Plan for COETAIL.


Plagiarism, Paraphrasing and Citation – Grade 2 Sharing the Planet

Lesson #1 ­ Plagiarism

  • The Teacher­ would prepare for the lesson by taking a student’s recently completed published piece that the class would recognise. The Teacher would then put his/her name on the piece or copy it to try and pull it off as their own. (This would work best with a published book or story.)
  • The Teacher would begin the class by telling the students that while they were writing their story, he/she was also writing his/her own story too. And ask if they would like to hear it.
  • The Teacher would begin reading the ‘plagiarised’ story and hopefully the students would begin reacting to the fact that the story didn’t belong to the Teacher.
  • When the Teacher is satisfied with the protests he/she will strop reading and lead the students in a conversation about what happened and what they were thinking or feeling, (especially the student whose work was used).
  • Through the discussion, the students would hopefully come up with the words not yours, stealing, lying, property, angry, upset, sad, hurt.
  • The Teacher would then introduce the word Plagiarism and show the  BrainPop video about  Plagiarism.
  • After watching the video and discussing the definition of plagiarism, the Teacher might then choose to read their school’s policy on plagiarism, and read out a couple hypothetical scenarios involving plagiarism to discuss as a class.
  • The Teacher would divide the students into small groups and hand each group scenario, (See Appendix A ­ from  Common Sense Media‘s  Whose is it,  anyway? lesson.)
  • In groups the students would practice applying what they learned by deciding if their scenario qualifies as plagiarism or not and, if it is, come up with an alternate solution or ending for each situation or problem. (The Teacher could also infuse some drama into this lesson by having each group act out their scenario as written and then, ‘rewind’ the situation and act out their alternate ending in which the situation would no longer qualify as plagiarism.)
  • The Teacher brings the students together to share their scenarios.
  • The lesson would end with students reflecting, either orally or written, their understanding of plagiarism. They may choose to use the following sentence starter: Plagiarism is when..

Lesson #2 ­ Paraphrasing and Citing Sources

  • The Teacher would ask the students to reiterate what they learned about plagiarism.
  • He/She would ask what the students remember as the two ways that plagiarism can be avoided when doing research. And hopefully the students will remember paraphrasing, (or using your own words), and citing your sources, (or saying where you found that information).
  • Watch the BrainPop video on  Paraphrasing and talk about it with students afterwards. Make a class list of paraphrasing tips.
  • As a class examine a couple of resources about Orangutans (or other animal / plant), both print and digital and talk about how we should go about citing those resources, using what they have learned from the two BrainPop videos they have watched.
  • Agree as a class on some logical way to help their readers know where they got their information, and record it on a class list of citing sources agreements.
  • Using the example of the Orangutans, let the students know that they are going to make a class ‘report’, (or whatever summative assessment the grade teachers have agreed upon beforehand, ex. report, wiki, poster, student choice, etc.), to help them practice the process of gathering information.
  • Using one of the guided inquiry questions that was predetermined by the class, (ex. what do they eat?), the Teacher would begin modelling using a variety of non-fiction resources to find information relevant to the question and using the class tips for paraphrasing and citing sources.
  • The Teacher would then divide the students into pairs and assign each group one of the class inquiry questions, along with a variety of resources. The students would practice using the resources and class generated tips to paraphrase appropriate information and cite their sources.
  • After a predetermined amount of time, the class would come together and share their research.
  • The Teacher would then help the class logically assemble their research into the desired format for whichever form of presentation was decided upon.
  • The class would then reflect upon what they learned either orally or written. They may choose to use the following sentence starter: You can avoid plagiarism by…

Assessments for Learning

  • Students will use their class generated tip lists for paraphrasing and citing sources.
  • Students will refer to their unit rubric which they helped create at the beginning of the unit.

Accommodations/Special Needs:

  • Provide research material from a variety of media, (books, magazines, videos, interactive online resources, etc.) and reading levels.
  • Offer students a variety of opportunities to express themselves, whole class discussions, small group, partner work, writing, speaking, acting.
  • Take note of children who have misconceptions, (example: thinks putting something in their own words means changing the meaning of the information), and address these misconceptions immediately.
  • Any other accommodations necessary based on the needs of the students in the class.

Resources / Materials

  • Piece of published student work
  • Projector and internet access for BrainPop videos
  • Plagiarism Scenarios, like the one pictured below
  • Plant / Animal resources of various types and reading levels

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