8
   

Plagiarism or working together

 
 
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 08:50 pm
My 8th graders summer assignment was to take vocabulary words from Jack London's Call of the Wild and put them in sentences. She and a friend worked on this together on several occasions and spent hours on it. The assignment did not specify that you could not work together. The teacher called them out of class today and accused them of plagiarism because their answers were so similar....not the same!They were sentences using a lot of vocab specific to the book. They did not take ANY wording from the book. They explained they worked together on the project- she was completely disgusted, condescending and told them she couldn't believe they did not know it was plagiarism. She completely humiliated them, gave them zeros for the assignment and sent them on their way. Any thoughts on this whole mess?
 
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 09:45 pm
@margbucci,
My one thought is that you, as a parent, should take this matter up with a higher authrity e.g. the school principal. This is a very confused, poor teacher.

When I was in the 9th grade, I remember, I was accused of plagiarism because the book report I wrote (completely on my own) was so good my poor teacher couldn't believe that a 9th grader had written it. I got it straightened out.

That teacher is w-r-o-n-g. (I say that as a retired high school teacher.)
0 Replies
 
margbucci
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 09:59 pm
Thanks for your reply! We have emailed the teacher and principal and asked for a meeting. I failed to mention these are two straight A students. I was flabbergasted at how the teacher handled this!!
sullyfish6
 
  3  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 10:25 pm
Plagerism would have been if the students copied the words and their application directly from the book. You don't say the students did this.

Are you saying that the teacher is upset because the students' answers are too similar? Simply explain that the students worked on this assignment together. One did not copy the work of another.

Yes, ask for a conference with the principal. Not because of what was bothering the teacher, but for how the teacher handled the situation.

0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 10:42 pm
The last poster is correct. Apparently this teacher does not know what "plagiarism" means.

Were instructions given that the students could NOT work together on this assignment? Or, is that the usual (understood) direction? If so, the girls are in the wrong. If not, the teacher owes them an apology and owes her classes a clearer explanation of the requirements for such assignments.


aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:00 am
@margbucci,
I think the teacher was negligent in her job to teach them what does and does not constitute plagiarism. So I might be inclined to not make so much of an issue about the zero and just tell my daughter that from now on, do her homework on her own or if she is going to do it with another person - unless it is specifically indicated it's a group assignment - that probably means two people are expected to do double the work and that they should come up with two TOTALLY different examples. Because the teacher does have a point. Whenever two student work together and produce similar work - how is she supposed to know who did what?
And if her aim is to make sure that ALL the students learn the material, two people working together and handing in similar work can confuse that issue.
So on that basis - I'd look at this as a lesson learned (what the hell- it's one measly assignment) and hope that my straight A student daughter would learn that it's probably better to do your own work by yourself and easier in that it saves any confusion in the long run.

But I would have a word with the teacher's supervisor about how she was not doing HER job assignments properly.

And then I'd teach my daughter what does and does not constitute plagiarism.
Because it is more than just copying text word for word out of a book. It also includes reading other peoples' ideas and presenting them as your own without citation- even if you have reworded them. And when she does do advanced placement work in highschool - which she probably will if she's a good student or writes papers in college - the standards for what does and does not constitute plagiarism do change in that they become more stringent and are held to more rigidly.
It would be good for her to learn this now rather than later.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:46 am
@margbucci,
Quote:
They explained they worked together on the project- she was completely disgusted, condescending and told them she couldn't believe they did not know it was plagiarism. She completely humiliated them, gave them zeros for the assignment and sent them on their way. Any thoughts on this whole mess?

I forgot to say that I'd talk to the teacher about it first before I approached her department head or the principal to ascertain if she was as humiliating and dismissive as the girls interpreted her to be. If she continued to display that attitude to me, and didn't see the need to TEACH the girls about how to write and produce one's own ideas instead of someone else's presented as one's own - even if it's only your friend's ideas presented as your own - then I'd talk to her supervisor.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 03:33 am
@margbucci,
margbucci wrote:

My 8th graders summer assignment was to take vocabulary words
from Jack London's Call of the Wild and put them in sentences.
The first question is JURISDICTIONAL, to wit:
is there any legal authority to burden them with "assignments" over the summertime ?

During the summertime were the plaintiffs even HER STUDENTS ?


I once sued a teacher and his school
for defamation of character and professional negligence.





David
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 05:50 am
@margbucci,
Usually students I've taught ask first, before working on an assignment together. (Unless, of course, the teacher has stated it's a group assignment & will be assessed accordingly.) Otherwise, generally the expectation would be that each student conduct her own research & present her own findings.
If you decide to take this further with a facility coordinator, or a year level coordinator, I'd suggest that both girls' projects be made available at the interview.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:00 am
@msolga,
Oops. Faculty coordinator, I meant to say.

(It's late. Time for bed.)
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:41 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
The first question is JURISDICTIONAL, to wit:
is there any legal authority to burden them with "assignments" over the summertime ?

During the summertime were the plaintiffs even HER STUDENTS ?

David - that reminds me of a situation one of my teacher friends ran into when he assigned the book, 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond for his advanced placement world history class- and he sent this letter to all the kids enrolled in it that they could begin reading it over the summer as it was not the easiest read and he figured it would give them a good head start.

He didn't ASSIGN or require it to be read over the summer - he just suggested that they might want to read it over the summer- as they would begin the year with a discussion and paper due on that book.

Well, oh my goodness - you would have thought he was trying to turn these kids into indentured servants for the summer or something- the uproar from the parents was immediate and insurmountable to the point that he just said - 'Forget it.' They didn't want their kids to have to do it - but they didn't want the other kids to have a head start over their kids so finally, he just caved and withdrew the suggestion.
You know there's a whole lot of world history to be covered in 180 hours (one hour of history class for one school year which is 180 days)- somewhere around 8,000 years. So much has to be crammed in that many teachers do Ancient Greece and Rome (which used to be their own separate electives - I took them when I was in highschool) in three days - ridiculous!
He's so passionate about his subject - he figured the ones who were taking an elective AP history class would be too and would find the book interesting moreso than 'work'.

Apparently not. Such a shame that learning is not seen by more people as the opportunity it is.
margbucci
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:20 am
To Davids point - it was a summer assignment! No discussion of not working together, in fact since this incident it has come to my attention many siblings of previous 8th graders simply use their brother or sisters. I guess they rationalize that with the fact it is summer. These girls put in hours of work and to just shake off a zero out of 100 isn't so easy. They are starting out the semester with F's!
My biggest problem is with her attitude, demeanor and language to our girls.
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:39 am
@margbucci,
I'd talk to her about it then.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:15 am
@Eva,
I agree. But when you meet try to be even-tempered with the teacher. Remember good or bad this will be your child's teacher for the school year.

Simply explain that the children (assuming the assignment did not state they couldn't work together) with your approval worked together to complete the assignment. Also, state that you are sorry if she felt they plagiarized, but your understanding of plagiarism is " " ie the correct defination.

Even though the teacher is in the wrong and out of bounds, if you come to an agreeable solution from here - it may be best to hold your anger (rightful anger) - as you don't want to make an enemy of your child's teacher. Maybe put a misunderstanding spin rather than accusing.

If that doesn't work then I would be a bit more aggressive of the improper behaviour of the teacher.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:22 am
@margbucci,
margbucci wrote:

To Davids point - it was a summer assignment! No discussion of not working together, in fact since this incident it has come to my attention many siblings of previous 8th graders simply use their brother or sisters. I guess they rationalize that with the fact it is summer. These girls put in hours of work and to just shake off a zero out of 100 isn't so easy. They are starting out the semester with F's!
My biggest problem is with her attitude, demeanor and language to our girls.
U anticipated me. U get extra credit for that
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:30 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

Quote:
The first question is JURISDICTIONAL, to wit:
is there any legal authority to burden them with "assignments" over the summertime ?

During the summertime were the plaintiffs even HER STUDENTS ?

David - that reminds me of a situation one of my teacher friends ran into when he assigned the book, 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond for his advanced placement world history class- and he sent this letter to all the kids enrolled in it that they could begin reading it over the summer as it was not the easiest read and he figured it would give them a good head start.

He didn't ASSIGN or require it to be read over the summer - he just suggested that they might want to read it over the summer- as they would begin the year with a discussion and paper due on that book.

Well, oh my goodness - you would have thought he was trying to turn these kids into indentured servants for the summer or something- the uproar from the parents was immediate and insurmountable to the point that he just said - 'Forget it.' They didn't want their kids to have to do it - but they didn't want the other kids to have a head start over their kids so finally, he just caved and withdrew the suggestion.
You know there's a whole lot of world history to be covered in 180 hours (one hour of history class for one school year which is 180 days)- somewhere around 8,000 years. So much has to be crammed in that many teachers do Ancient Greece and Rome (which used to be their own separate electives - I took them when I was in highschool) in three days - ridiculous!
He's so passionate about his subject - he figured the ones who were taking an elective AP history class would be too and would find the book interesting moreso than 'work'.

Apparently not. Such a shame that learning is not seen
by more people as the opportunity it is.
It CAN BE, depending upon the circumstances.
It can also be considered unpaid labor
As described, this was not a matter of volunteering.
It sounds as tho it was intended to be coercive.

The stated facts appear to assume that the plaintiffs
were going to be defendant 's students in the following year.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 12:01 pm
I am sorry, but I think this thread has gone in a very bad direction.

Let me ask a basic question-- what is your goal?

The discussion in this thread sets up an inevitable conflict-- teacher against student against parent. What will this accomplish? I don't know who is at fault (although I do have experience teaching 8th grade girls which may bias my opinion a bit), but if the goal here is to get the best situation for education... what does who is at fault matter?

Let me propose a couple basic principles on how to handle this...

1) Parent and teachers and students are on the same side. Sure, they are all humans and make mistakes, but my first recommendation is to trust that this teacher has your kids best interests at heart. If you can't give the teacher the benefit of the doubt it sets up a very bad environment for education.

2) These conflicts, even conflicts with authority, are part of life. How you handle these conflicts will have a big impact on what you pass on to your children. You should think very carefully about the example you are setting for your child.

3) Often the goal of "winning" is at odds with what is best. Having an adversarial relationship with teachers is not good for anyone involved.

Based on this, I would recommend the following.

1) You should start with a respectful discussion with the teacher where you go to listen and understand rather than confront. I would include my child in this discussion, I would express my concerns clearly. I would also listen carefully to what the teacher has to say and make sure she understands she has my support in her mission to teach my child.

Ideally you can come up with an agreement where you and the teachers are allies in the education of your child and the children. There are all sorts of ways to resolve this disagreement from a request that the teacher is more clear with the rules, to a chance to redo the work, to a explanation about why your students should accept the consequences (yes there is a possibility that your child is wrong).

2) If an agreement is not possible after a sincere attempt-- I, as a parent, would ask if this is a learning experience for my child. It may be that agreeing to disagree (and accept that a teacher has authority) is the right decision.

I had one situation where my high school aged son did not get along with a math teacher. After discussion with the teacher (who I didn't care for either), my son and the teacher and I worked out an agreement for how he could get a good grade (which was after all what mattered to him). I wish that all of my kid's teachers were perfect-- but that isn't life. I figure that learning how to deal with difficult situations will come in handy when he start's working.

3) Only after exhausting any other alternative would I bring in the administrator as part of a direct conflict (although responsible administrator may be helpful as a mediator).


Assuming that you want your children to get a good education, working together with educators (rather than fighting against them) seems only logical.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 12:05 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Quote:
I am sorry, but I think this thread has gone in a very bad direction.

Does that mean we have to stop ?
0 Replies
 
margbucci
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:54 pm
ebrown,
I feel I have to reply to so many of your points. First this is my fourth child to go through this particular school. All A students. In all those many years NEVER have my husband or I felt the need to intervene before. My issue mostly is with the way the teacher handled the situation. Talk about benefit of the doubt...don't you think having had her siblings and giving them an A in Honors English and having her in the class for 5 weeks the student should get SOME benefit of the doubt. Instead of being greeted by"Do you have something you want to tell me,"maybe it could have been, "these two papers are very similar. Do you girls have an explanation?"
I get your little aside about 8th grade girls, but to go right to "Plagiarizers!!!" seems a bit intense don't you think?
I feel my husband and I are setting an excellent example. We emailed the teacher and asked for a meeting with her and the principal. We are involved parents. She feels completely belittled by this teacher. I would like to hear the teacher's explanation of how she thought this was the proper way of handling this.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:34 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
The stated facts appear to assume that the plaintiffs
were going to be defendant 's students in the following year.

Well yeah - because usually students enroll in courses at the end of the semester for the next semester - so everyone will know which students will be in which courses so they can make schedules and order books, etc. HELLO David! Anybody home?! Laughing Laughing

Marge - I would never, as a teacher, assume anything about one of your children from the performance of another of your children. All kids are different. Even those genetically related.

Again, if you don't like the way the teacher treated your child - it is entirely within your rights to speak to that teacher. I do not agree however that the the grade is the most important thing.
I'd talk to my child before and at least as intently as I talked to the teacher. She (your daughter) should learn and understand why it is always a good idea to do her own homework by and for herself.
This will never hurt her and can only help her- no matter what teacher she has.
 

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