Saturday, September 15, 2007


My 10th graders had this group project to do on Colonial Americans which included a paper that they needed to write. SIS subscribes to this service called, which checks papers for plagiarism, so they had to upload it to that website as well as turn in a hard copy to me. A couple days after the paper was due, one student came in to see me because she was concerned that her partner had plagiarized part of her paper and she wanted to let me know so that she didn't get in trouble. This student had printed out the part of the paper her partner had copied as well as the original source she had copied it from, which turnitin hadn't caught. I took a look at it and realized that the student who wrote that page had taken the first 2 sentences of her page from this website, but had changed the language just enough that turnitin wouldn't catch it.

So the next day, I talked to the student who had plagiarized. Of course it's not OK that she did that, but I decided I'd let her have a chance to rewrite that section and turn it back in and not take any points off since it was her first offense. I had her stay after class and told her all that. I also told her that I wasn't mad, just disappointed in her choice and that she was perfectly capable of doing a great job of writing without needing to plagiarize. The next day, when I came in, I had the e-mail below from the student:

Dear Ms. Jones,

When you informed me that I had plagiarized , I was so much in shock that I did not find the time to apologize, and also to say thank you.
I am very sorry for the mistake that I have made.
We are currently studying plagiarism in journalism class, and as I listened to the teacher's lecture, guilt weighed me down so much that I wanted to burst out crying.
After my partner submitted our paper, she said that she saw a pretty high percentage turnout, and pointed to the exact same sentence that you did today.
She also mentioned that we did not include the site containing this information in our bibliography, which was completely unintentional.
I thought that it would "be okay," so we did not take any further action to prevent this problem from occuring. That was one crucial mistake I made.
The second mistake I made was, well, plagiarizing.
Before going on any further, I hope that you will understand that I had no bad intentions while writing this assignment.
In fact, I was only trying to convey the same ideas just using different words. But there were simply too many good phrases and words that I was eager to include.
Those two sentences are a mistake that I regret very much, and I have learned my lesson to be more cautious, and to never do it again in the future.
I never had the chance to say thank you.
Ms. Jones, you can not possibly comprehend how much this means to me.
This second chance that you have kindly offered allows me to repair my mistake and also to learn a profound lesson.
I feel so much remorse for my mistake, but I am simultaneously glad that this happened because I have learned so much from it.
Thank you so much, and I hope you have a nice evening.

Can you believe that?! And the crazy thing is that she's totally sincere too! This just cracked me up!

I think kids in Korea, and at private schools especially, are under so much pressure that even really good kids find themselves taking the easy way out, so all the teachers are on high alert for cheating. I guess it's a good thing that we have kids on the lookout too!

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