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I have just been asked by my Principal to speak to our faculty about the
Internet and scholarship, or, more specifically, how the net can be a tool
used to BYPASS scholarship if not thoughtfully mediated by teachers. I'll
tell you why I am writing you first and then explain myself more fully.  I
have to do my presentation in four days and I was also asked to provide
articles on the topic for handouts and discussion.  I was wondering if you'd
read any good journal articles lately on subjects like teaching kids to
avoid plagiarism, the importance of recognizing the origins of sources,
judging their quality, and citing them; and/or designing research projects
that go beyond cut and paste.  The importance of choosing the best sources
regardless of their medium is also a peripheral issue and I enumerate a few
topics at the end of this appeal. I need some hard hitting articles fast!
What have ya read lately?

What precipitated this was a discussion I had today with a new computer lab
teacher (formerly in English/Vocal Music)--a thoughtful individual and great
teacher-- who recognizes the importance of developing good scholarship
habits in middle school and had grown increasingly disgusted and uneasy when
teachers came into her lab with crappy projects that use the net in slapdash
ways. She cited examples like just cutting and pasting pictures, using a
search engine to grab info on a topic without regard to the source, etc.--
thoughtless stuff that teaches only the WRONG things to kids. The Principal
happened by and joined us.  The computer lab teacher was telling me that she
has started telling teachers to come and see me if they want to do a
research project.  She said she was uncomfortable doing otherwise, but that
she also wondered how many teachers just got put off and headed back to the
classroom and not to the library. She told the Principal how plagiarism was
rampant and was been unwittingly endorsed and taught by several teachers and
added that few teachers, if any, taught kids to consider who might have
written/produced the material they access. I am also the school webmaster
and maintain what I think is an excellent library site which provides access
to both subscription databases and selected public web sites.  I told her
how I had lost some of my best customers (and many "teachable moments") to
the computer lab where, ironically, teachers took their kids and used the
resources I have set up without teaching them a thing about them. (Not to
mention the fact that they left, in their wake, stacks of neglected print
resources. Many times I've been tempted to disable the site for a few hours
just to get the traffic back!)  The computer lab teacher told me that this
happens more than I know and that most of the kids have no idea that, for
instance, the article they just accessed came from a magazine and not just
"from the Internet." We even talked about how most public web sites are not
designed to be read for more than a few minutes, they're designed for
click-through, that web designers know that too much text is the kiss of
death and, therefore, by over-relying on these sources, teachers are
unwittingly discouraging sustained reading experiences.  The three of us
agreed we had to explicitly divide our duties and attempt to make that
division known to teachers: Wanna do research? Start in the library (I have
15 stations that are dedicated to net access only.) Wanna use other computer
applications? Go to the lab.  That's one of the things we'll be covering

 I have stressed thoughtful, scholarly, balanced use of the net for years
offering to design projects, teach bibliography, etc. I do a couple
workshops  on designing good research projects each year and--frankly--
attendance has been light. I now face the world's toughest crowd, our staff,
at a mandatory meeting at 3 p.m., to tell them how the library is still, and
will always be, the place to do--and to TEACH doing research. Any article
suggestions that would help me make my points would be very helpful. The
more practical, the better.

Some specific topics --1)How Librarians can help teachers use the net as a
balanced part of their research projects.
                                     2) Net facilitated plagiarism. How big
is the problem and how can we prevent it (and detect it)
                                     3) The importance of a brick and mortar
library in an age when "everything is available on the net."

I appreciate any article suggestions you have! Thanks for your time.

Jeffrey Hastings
School Library Media Specialist
Highlander Way Middle School
Howell, Michigan

Call me: (517) 548-6293
Fax me: (517) 545-1407
E-mail me: hastingj@howellschools.com
Visit my school library's web site:

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