Thursday, February 9, 2012

Did students cheat from the encyclopedia in decades past?

Think back to 4th grade state reports of decades past (oh I hope they are in the past!)... did students "cheat" on those? Did they plagiarize from the encyclopedia? Of course they did! Why? Because the state report was a terrible assignment. It was poorly planned. There was no real thinking about/with the information in order to meet the goals of the assignment. Regurgitate state flower, state motto, population...

Where the information comes from has changed, the need for excellence in lesson planning has not. If we don't want students to cheat and plagiarize we have to do our part as teachers.

We have to plan assignments which require students to Evaluate the information they come across, Analyze it's usefulness in completing the assignment and Synthesize into something uniquely their own. Note that the three verbs are from Bloom's taxonomy but they are slightly rearranged. My co-author and friend Lisa Chamberlin and I call this EASy. See this presentation... Critical Thinking is EASy

What does an EASy lesson look like... I used to teach ancient ancient history to 8th graders. Not an easy task, but it taught me to teach! Students used to do "live" news reports from ancient Rome, they created advertising campaigns for Mesopotamia, etc. etc. Websites aren't written like live news reports, students had to use the information in new ways to create their live reports (and I filmed them to make them even more authentic). No one is creating advertising for Mesopotamia or Babylonia, students had to use the information and make it into ads. These are just a few examples of EASy from my teaching days.

Students aren't "learning" to cheat because the Internet has information. We need to stop thinking this way and instead, do a better job of lesson planning and teaching.

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