Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dealing with Plagiarism

***Update***  M8 wrote a new story, with which we were both very pleased. She did wonder how she would know if someone else had written a story just like hers that she hadn't heard yet. :)

We had our first bout with plagiarism yesterday.  I assigned M8 to make up a story about the jungle, the unit study we will begin next week, to post on her blog.  She loves to write and usually whips out a creative story in just a few minutes. 45 minutes later she brings the laptop to me with lines and lines of a creative, yet funny, story.  While I read it aloud (per M6's request), he informed me that they had actually heard that story on a video earlier in the week.  M8 insisted that it wasn't the same, that she had changed some things. And the lesson-learning began.

How to handle plagiarism?  Plagiarism in its simplest form is stealing.  Taking the words or ideas of another person and pretending that they are yours.  The ten commandments and the laws of this country forbid stealing.  Although M8 had no idea that (1) she had stolen anything, or (2) that there was a big fancy word for pretending that she came up with a story that someone else had created, she learned that she is still responsible to uphold these laws.

Needless to say, after a moment of fear and a few tears, a great lesson was learned.  Today we will attempt the creative writing exercise again, and hope for much better results.

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