Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Teachable Moment

A Teachable Moment

This week fifth graders played our popular game "Library Jeopardy" and one of our "daily doubles" afforded us with one of those moments teachers love. The boys team bet all their points (and sadly lost) when they tried to come up for a question for the answer, plagiarism.
What followed was a lively discussion of what plagiarism means. I presented a simple definition of plagiarism as the false presentation of someone else's writing as one's own. In the case of copyrighted work, plagiarism is illegal. Example were given, especially one where you could copy and paste into your own work something you got from a website. We discussed the ramifications of plagiarism--failing grades, expulsion from a school, legal problems, and what could be done to avoid plagiarism such as using quotation marks and attributions. But the best part was when the discussion turned nicely into a final statement that the problem with plagiarism is that it is unethical. Whether or not you might get caught plagiarizing is not the issue. Doing something inherently wrong is.

As the first group left the Library and the second group was coming in I heard several the students from the first group saying loudly, "Ask her what plagiarism is! Ask what plagiarism is!" As a teacher, it doesn't get much better than that.....

Also in the Library this week:

Kindergarten--How many cats do you have? One, two, maybe three? In the delightful rhyming story Cats, Cats, Cats by
Lesléa Newman and Erika Oller, Mrs Brown has sixty cats! They sleep all day but when Mrs. Brown starts snoring, the cats party all night. Kindergartners liked participating in the story and coming up with the rhymes. Their favorite? Cats in the hallway throwing confetti and cats in the dining room eating spaghetti (or biscetti, depending on your pronunciation).

First Grade--Henri Mouse moves from New York to Paris to become a famous artist. But with his mixtures of magical magnetic paints whatever he paints ends up on his canvas...for good! First graders loved comparing the before and after illustrations. This story by
George Mendoza and J. Boucher provides a fun way for students to practice their skills of observation and comparison. In the end Henri decides he must do what all great artists do and paint a self-portrait and the results are almost disastrous!

Second Grade--A round fuzzy object rolls down the tunnels of prairie dogs in the hilarious book The Great Fuzz Frenzy by
Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel . With alliterations aplenty and fantastic illustrations this book is a great hit. The gentle reminders that selfishness can cause trouble and that working as a group is best in the long run add to the quality of the story.

Third Grade--Saving Sweetness by
Diane Stanley and Tom Bodett tells the story of an orphan and her rescue from an orphanage and the notoriously mean Mrs. Sump. Told in the voice of the sheriff, it is so much fun to read aloud and is filled with wonderful similes and metaphors. The collage like illustrations add the the overall effect. While the story tells one point of view, the pictures tell another and the humor of the contrast was enjoyed by the students. We can't wait until next week to read the sequel, Raising Sweetness.

Fourth Grade--In preparation for writing our own tall tales, we read one more this week. Mike Fink re-told by Steven Kellogg is not one of the most well-known tall tales. Students enjoyed the story of the mighty river boatman and could easily find in it all the elements of a tall tale. Next week they will try their hand and writing one of their own!

Fifth Grade--see opening post

Sixth Grade--Most students finished their posts on the Research Blog this week and students made comments on each other's posts. Next week when all posts are finished and commented upon we'll provide a link so you can view them yourselves.

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