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Thanks so much for all of your suggestions. We decided to
go with the students creating a pathfinder and then an
annotated bibliography. Very collegiate, hard to
plagiarize, different kind of assignment. Here are the
suggestions that were posted to the list:

There are many resources available online and in print
these days that help
teachers address the plagiarism issue, such as Jamie
McKenzie's work at and Problems are the Solution by Steph
Capra and Jenny Ryan
(available thru Amazon)

Although it doesn't fit your teacher's realm, here is an
example given to a
Yr 8 class ...
"Your task is to research the existence of an unexplained
Evaluate the authenticity of your evidence to formulate a
conclusion as to
whether your chosen phenomenon is based on fact or
fiction" (Stephen
James-Smoult & Irene Foxon)

Putting students in a position where they have to decide
an answer to a
problem that has at least two perspectives that need to be
researched and
addressed is just one option. If your teacher looks at
some of the verbs
that are associated with the higher order thinking skills
of Bloom's
be another starting point, as well as Jamie McKenzie's
Questioning Toolkit
(in Problems are the Solution).

It takes a while to be able to shift our thinking to
asking questions and
posing problems, but after a while it comes quite
naturally. I am currently
working with another teacher on a unit about our recent
bushfires for our
kindergarten classes, and the question we are answering is
How have the
recent ACT bushfires affected the native animals of the
ACT? Their task is
to identify what the habitats of a number of creatures was
like, and now
that it has been destroyed, how will the animals who
survived be affected.
Even though the answer might be as simple (to us) as the
koala will not have
any food, there is a lot of learning happening for them to
reach that

And they love the ownership that it gives them ...

Go to and look in the programs
sections. At the
bottom of the page is a link to modules of online
curriculum. The
research assignments here are set up as part of a role
play and are very
difficult to plagiarise - the students must write the
assignment in a
defined context, ie. application of theory. They still
have to
reference, but can't actually plagiarise.

Although I'm not a high school level teacher, our 8th
grade teacher has had
a lot of success with designing the question so that they
have to do the
research and then suggest an alternative to a decision
made or an event that
happened and substantiate their option. An example would
be: What would have
happened had Germany won WWII?

They would have to research what had happened before the
war, how Hitler had
rose to power, what positive changes had he brought to
Germany, etc. and
then project them forward. Each projection would have to
substantiated with

I'm sure there are plenty of examples of decisions in
Economics which could
have gone either way with different outcomes. Or how about
them using the
definitions of at least two different economic models,
devise their own?

Our English teachers have adopted a system where the kids
select a topic
within the broad range of the assignment and then
research, bring their
research to class and write in-class essays on questions
designed by the

They have been using this system for 4 years with pretty
good results.
It forces the kids to:
-identify a topic, or understand the assignment from the
-research with that topic in mind - kind of like the
-read and highlight the material they are going to print
out for their
research folder, before they do any writing
- write in their own words, in class

The benefit is that the teachers know it is the students'
own work, and it
is a good practice for writing essays on examinations.

I go into the classes an model how to do the research for
this type of
assignment. The kids who pay attention get the job done,
the others don't.

Teachers also assign due dates for parts of the research
before the essay
writing days, to keep the kids on task.

One of the things I've noticed about "research papers" is
that students
are told to keep away from the first person-- thus there
is no
opportunity to express an opinion about what was learned.
I like
Barbara's ideas. The question has to be posed in a way
that the student
must come to some sort of personal conclusion.
  As I'm sitting here I just had a thought about a way to
present a topic
that might make it hard to plagiarize. Example: As you
know our state and
community are having problems with school funding. You
have just been
appointed as the sole member of the school committee in
charge of making
the budget cuts for the next school year. Prepare a paper
describing the
budget cuts (could choose either local or state cuts,
could have to pare
a specific $ amount from the budget. ) explain the
rationale behind the
cuts you would make or methods of increasing income so
that cuts could
be avoided. The student could be asked to then include a
philosphy for making the decision ( ie keeping cuts from
the classroom)
legal reasoning ( our district says that everything is on
the line except
the Supt's job because the law says we must have one),
pros and cons of
various cuts, any background to support keeping or
retaining certain
positions ( ie research on effectiveness of LMS etc.) It
seems to me that
you could do this with a variety of subjects such as
health care, drug
laws etc, etc. This is of course just a thought, haven't
tried it out at
all but I think I may suggest this to a few teacher's on
Monday and see
if it flies.

There is a great book out concerning this topic. I'm not
sure of the
exact title cause it is at school but I think the title is
Copyright and Plagiarism in the Internet Era. It has a
whole section
devoted to designing assignments that will help avoid

Our students do their research in the library for a week
the eyes of the teacher; they turn in bibliography cards
note cards and their sources are checked by the teachers.
would be pretty hard to plagiarize under those

Doug Johnson suggests topics that personalize the

How would your favorite athlete fair in the ancient

President Johnson (or whoever) is coming to our town
to visit. Where would you take him and why?

Someone in your family has (disease). How does this
affect his life?

Our senior English teacher requires x# of books, x# of
online sources (web based databases, CD-ROM sources, etc.)
& no more than X websites. They have a month or 6 weeks to
do paper. The first 2 days are spent in the library where
I show them what we have available in books, what online
sources would be good for their topic, etc. She has a
schedule of when things are due. She requires X # of
notecards, a certain portion are due each week. She
requires an outline, a rough draft & a finished paper
(sometimes a re-write too). Anyway, they are given some
class time to come to the library or work in the classroom
on writing notecards. The notecards have to have the
source on them. This particular research paper is on
British authors, they have to read a book (from a list she
selected), find critical analysis of the work & the
author, provide information about the time period the
author was writing ...etc.

If the student doesn't turn in a list of sources that
include the ones we have in our library...she is instantly
on the alert for plagiarized works. I'm not sure that the
students all read the books (at least not completely), but
I think they do a good job finding the other material.

AND I had several students this year tell me that the
print sources were SO much better than things they had
found on the web (music to my ears).

More and more of our teachers are requiring signs of
progress along the way -

Week 1: Students turn in topic or thesis and list of 5-10
questions the
student wants to answer.
Week 2: students need to turn in an annotated bibliography
with 9 sources
from 3 different types of material(periodicals, book,
internet, video,
primary source, etc...)
Week 3: Copy of questions with the NOTES to answer them.
Print outs from
sites, copies of book pages not allowed.
Week 4: Rough Draft
Week 5: Final Draft

1. Teachers attach portions of the grade to these steps -
small, 5-10pts,
but they add up. Kids can't pass the assignment without
the primary work.
2. Also, if the rough draft doesn't connect with the notes
or the sources
all of a sudden change it is a pretty good sign that there
is some
plagiarism going on.
3. It's a way to spread out the work so the kids start to
learn how to pace
themselves on those upcoming college projects.
4. elimates some of the temptation to plagiarize that
happens when students
have left the assignment to the last minute.
5. An added bonus is that the teacher can quickly identify
students who are
struggling and offer additional help.

Of course there is always the student who finds a paper
online first,
downloads it, and works backwards. Honestly, this ends up
being more work
than doing it the right way and often the sources gives
them away. It is
very difficult to do an annotated bibliography on a
college textbook that
went out of print in 1978!

I have noticed that teachers who do this have students who
turn in higher
quality final projects, and there is generally less stress
evident in their
classrooms. It's fun to work with their classes because I
actually get to
help students with their research and the students are
really focused but
not overwhelmed.

Contrast journal articles or editorials from recent
publications reflecting
conservative and liberal viewpoints on current topics.
This would be
especially useful in Economics or Government classes.

Locate a popular magazine article, and then find a
scholarly article on the
same subject. Compare the two articles for content, style,
bias, audience,
etc. For advanced credit, find a website on the topic and
compare and
contrast with the two articles.

Create a name/topic for the paper (Shakespeare's World,
the Rise of the Nazi
Party, etc) and then do a search for it on the Net. If you
gets thousands of
hits, it will be an easy topic for plagiarism. If it gets
few hits, it will
be difficult to plagiarize w/o detection. I can't think of
a way to make it

Some successful projects that I've seen involved asking
kids to
compare/contrast seemingly disparate things or events or
involved collecting
original data (which has its own set of problems).

I know an English teacher who works hard on paraphrasing
with her students, asking them to paraphrase infor. from
resources quite a bit, and she checks this work along the
way. She verifies steady work and progress in the research
process, so then the paper MUST be made up of these notes
and paraphrased info.
Hope this helps a little.

One of the most sure-fire (but unecological) approaches
I've come across
this year in a Junior English class is the teacher who
requires students to
photocopy and hand-in every with the final paper every
source they've used
in the paper. Students are supposed to highlight the
portions of text that
they include in their papers (either direct quotes or
Students don't get credit for the paper if they don't hand
in all their

The teacher doesn't read everything of course....just
skims the printouts to
see if there is an appropriate number, to see if they
match the
bibliographies. But if there is ever a question of
something not seeming
quite right in the paper, all the original sources are
there to refer to.

Our honors students are required to create a pathfinder in
addition to their paper.  Their research is also presented
as a thesis defense in front of a panel.

Check out examples of student pathfinders here:

Our pathfinder template here:

All of our students are trained in thesis building  and seniors must
present their research in front of a group which includes
outside evaluators.

We've struggled with this and have hosted a full-school
inservice on plagiarism.  Our new academic integrity
policy is listed here:

The PowerPoint we used in the plagiarim inservice is
downloadable from here:

Thanks again!

Sarah Katz
Fox Lane HS Library
Bedford, NY 10506

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