A lesson on plagiarism

I teach my students about plagiarism and how to cite sources, paraphrase and use quotes. We study how USA TODAY cites sources and keeps from plagiarizing. The students learn from a reliable source.

I also have my students read an editorial in the paper. I then teach persuasive writing and writing for a purpose. We look at how the newspaper’s writers set up arguments and format their thoughts. For instance, the cigarette smoking debate was featured, so we read the writers’ arguments and debated the issue.

Every day, the kids have a quiet time to do their homework or read. Many students ask to read the paper, they find it to be very friendly. They have told me that when they are on vacation, they are drawn to the racks to get the paper because they’re familiar with it. They know the layout.

USA TODAY makes my students consumers of print media: a powerful tool to make kids reflective thinkers. USA TODAY is a great bridge between lengthy magazine pieces and 30-second TV news clips. Reading it gets them to slow down and explore things in depth. It is really making them better readers.

I encourage the kids to read the paper and pick out a topic or topics that interest them, then express in class their own interests and opinions about these articles. Sometimes I have the older students read articles and then work with the younger students to explain to them the details and the news information that is described in the articles.

The kids’ favorite parts of the paper are the visuals. Kids respond great to visuals. They love the Experience TODAY activities that involve creating or utilizing the paper’s charts and graphs and assessing and learning new information.

The students like the newspaper’s human interest stories. Last summer the Olympics was really popular among the students because they liked reading about the athletes. The girls especially liked the articles and pictures about gymnastics. Also, all the kids really like the LIFE section profiles of musicians. Articles about athletes and musicians inspire them to want to read, helping their reading skills.

I’ve been meaning to write and tell you about the paper and the activities we are using it for. It is really going very well. The history department is in heaven using the lesson plans and the paper for current event issues. We are using it for writing prompts, researching information, and vocabulary lessons in the news. It’s great to have another teaching tool that can be utilized by all our students. They are actually into it.