A History Teacher has an interesting post on plagiarism and how he has changed one of his assignments to avoid it. This is exactly the kind of thing that I think should be happening. Like the cheating with iPods I wrote about earlier, it seems to me that this is what we should be doing. Rather than expecting students to complete assignments that resemble the ones we were given as students with enthusiasm and integrity and then getting upset when they use their creativity (or lack of it, in the case of a lot of plagiarism) to get around it, we should be looking for ways to make our teaching and our assignments more relevant and more creative.
Dan mentioned a particular WebQuest assignment he has changed over the years to make it more “cheat-proof”. That got me thinking about my own WebQuests. Granted, I will probably never again have an opportunity to use my Will the Real Thomas Merton Please Stand Up? assignment, but you never know. There was little in this assignment that did not lend itself to copying from the sources if my students had been so inclined. The other WebQuests I have done are about the same. But, I ask myself, what else could I have done? These assignments were for writing classes. They ask students to read, summarize, and synthesize information. If they wanted to copy from the sources, it was certainly possible.
This, for me, is the problem. I am the problem. I need to learn to think outside the box more. That is why I love reading blogs where teachers talk about what they are doing with their students. It’s why I love Clarence Fisher and Darren Kuropatwa; they share their thinking and their work and allow me to learn from them. And there is so much I need to learn!