Poetry Anthologies and Inadvertent Plagiarism

March 9, 2008 at 6:53 pm 1 comment

I don’t actually want to blog – I seem to have lost the impetus, lately, but I have faith it will return – but I feel the need to comment on what I’m doing right now.

At the beginning of February, I assigned a Poetry Anthology. This was a slightly modified version of a project DR has always done with her accelerated sophomores. (I also made a slimmed-down version and assigned it to the regular sophomores, but that’s another post.) I taught it, in just about every way, with the same amount of structuring and scaffolding as DR.

The anthologies were due March 3. I was surprised that ANY students – knowing that this was a 250 point assignment, and that classroom policy dictated that accelerated projects could not be turned in late for credit – would not come with SOMETHING to submit. They did, however – about half a dozen of them.

The work that I did receive is overall good – particularly when I remind myself that I’m dealing with sophomores. Some of the anthologies are far better than others. Some exhibit a decided lack of time management. This is what I expected.

The one I’m grading right now is on track to get an A. I’m on second period (these are a bit time-consuming, but primarily I’m dealing with the fact that I’m doing too much actual teaching to grade) and so far, the boys are faltering and the girls are excelling (with one exception due to incompleteness). I don’t like to see that, but then again, it IS second period. They’re my most frustrating, low-achieving accelerated class. Only 11 kids in the room, and the air of “don’t want to be here” is apparently contagious.

I’ve graded six so far this afternoon, recording the following scores:




male 197 78.8%
female 147 (incomplete) 58.8%
male 215 86%
male 174 69.6%
female 247 98.8%
female 248 99.2%


Imagine how depressing it was to record those first four scores! I thought for sure that all of the students were going to flop, that somehow my instructions were bad, my classroom work time insufficient, my expectations misguided. Thank goodness for my two lovely ladies at the bottom of that table who proved that directions CAN be followed!

The main thing that is really perturbing me – and this is on all of the male students’ anthologies thus far – is the complete disregard for what we’ve taught them about research and internal citation. Not only did these boys fail to actually write a real essay for the required “featured poet biographical essay” component, but they failed to include a single internal citation between them. I’ve left notes in their scoring rubrics notifying them that what they have done is technically plagiarism, and that they need to be more careful because this is a serious offense.

Knowing sophomores, though, they’re not going to read that comment – or if they do, they’re not going to retain it. I think I’m going to do a mini-lecture on Monday. Show them a sample “essay” without internal citation, see who can identify the problem. Then tell them a little story about what happens to plagiarists at a college level. Sure, I know this isn’t quote-unquote “real” plagiarism – it’s carelessness, not deviousness. But it IS serious, and it is inexcusable after the amount of training we’ve done in class on appropriate research techniques.

This is a negative sort of post, but I want to record (for posterity, and for the very nice educators who have stopped by and left encouraging comments in the past few days) how happy I really am with these anthologies. I love this project, and love what the kids did with it. I SO want to teach tenth grade again next year, I can just TASTE it. And I know it’s not terribly likely. But still… want want want. I’m going to share some of these anthologies, through photographs, in the near future – I think. I’m just so proud of them. And some of the stuff is too good – or too funny – NOT to share. 🙂

In closing, an excerpt from the current anthology’s reflection essay:

After writing this anthology the only thing I can think of is how much time was put into the making of it. The decorations, all the time spent on the internet, and the writing blocks that had to be overcome. After I surpass that thought I decide that this was the most fun project I have done in an English class for quite some time.

I’ll take that.


Entry filed under: BAD DAY, GRADING. Tags: , , .

Life Cycle of the Student Teacher Batteries. Seriously.

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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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