Mary C. Elmore
Rationale: When researching, students must understand the difference between paraphrasing versus plagiarizing in order that they develop the former and avoid the latter.
Learning Goal: Today we are learning how to paraphrase information we read in our research so that we can put our understanding of the author's ideas into our own words.
Materials: a brief article or paragraph for each student to practice paraphrasing i.e. "Cool Job" by Lorrie Castaneda from the Plugged Into Reading Resource materials for Rescues!
1) Begin by asking students if they know what plagiarism means. Depending on the responses, explain the term making sure to highlight how easy it is to make the mistake of plagiarizing when doing research due to the fact that collecting facts from non-fiction texts can easily lead to using the authors exact words when transferring that information into their own research documents.
2) Discuss the meaning of paraphrasing and model an example of putting your understanding of what an author writes into your own words using an article like "Cool Jobs" by Lorrie Castaneda. The first paragraph reads:
"At some point in his or her life, nearly every kid wants to be a firefighter. In 1998, the "Didja Ever Want to Be a FIREMAN?" survey on the World Wide Web tried to establish why. After four years of collecting responses, the survey pinpointed four reasons people wanted to become firefighters: the excitement, the heroics, the camaraderie, and a family history of firefighters."
3) On the board, model for the students one possible way to paraphrase this information:
Since being a firefighter is often what many kids dream of becoming, researchers decided to put out a survey on the internet called "Didja Ever Want to Be a FIREMAN?" After many years of research they determined four main reasons: 1) the job is exciting, 2) the job allows you to act like a hero, 3) the job helps you make good friends and 4) if you have firefighters in the family, you are more likely to become one youself!
4) Explain to students that in order to paraphrase successfully they must understand the vocabulary the author uses. For example, without really knowing what camaraderie is, you cannot accurately paraphrase that critical information. Point out that a tendency of students is to just copy the words they don't understand and then when they are asked what it means, they demonstrate a lack of understanding. Encourage the students to imagine explaining their understanding to a friend and to write down what that natural explanation would sounds like.
5) Next, take another paragraph from the same article and practice paraphrasing it as a whole class where the teacher writes down the ideas of the students and guides them accordingly. Actually practice having a child look of a new vocabulary word the students may not be familiar with so they can understand the process and it's importance.
6) Have the students work in small groups to paraphrase a third paragraph and then share out their various paraphrases to demonstrate that there are often multiple ways to express the same information. This is also an opportunity to guide those students who tend to use to much of the original text such that their own sentences sound choppy and awkward.
7) Finally, have students practice paraphrasing a fourth paragraph independently and then share with a partner what they have written.
8) Walk around and observe, offering suggestions as you listen.
9) Assign another paragraph or article for homework for the students to paraphrase to give them further independent practice and feedback.
Evaluation/Assessment: We'll know we've got it when we can explain the ideas and information of an author in our own words, without plagiarizing.