Plagiarism in a Digital Age

On October 29th, the New York Times published an article by Lionel Anderson and Katherine Schulten entitled Understanding Plagiarism in a Digital Age. If you haven’t read it yet, please, leave this blog post right now and take a moment to do so. I’ll wait.

Close Up of the thinker

 

This is me waiting patiently, just thinking…

 

Alright, you’re back. What did you think?

When an English colleague brought the article to my attention, I thought, “EUREKA! A good upper school blog topic! Let’s see how other librarians react to and/or are already handling this!” It is an ongoing conversation in my world and I would imagine it is in yours as well. We want to do it better. Maybe you can help?

Stating the obvious:

We are all dealing with busy, busy teens living in a digital age where one can copy and paste faster than one can actually say the words “copy and paste”. We mash up songs and retweet the ideas that resonate with us. We truly are a part of a sharing culture.  Shmoop and Spark have become verbs describing pre-class reading to prepare for a literary discussion, with or without an accompanying quiz. Can original thought survive such preparation, or are others’ words becoming the “barbs” that Anderson and Schulten refer to in the article?

What if you’re working with a multi-cultural population with different notions of intellectual ownership? If these students plan on attending American universities, isn’t it our responsibility to teach them the American rules of attribution?

I want to know how we can step down from the proverbial soapbox and speak to our upper school students like the young adults that they are. To stop preaching and scare tactics to engage with them in a genuine conversation that will instill the wisdom and the skills to read, to engage with a text, to synthesize, and to attribute. How do we weave this into our school culture, not just for a few minutes when handing out an assignment or during a Noodletools intro during a library visit? We need more.

This isn’t a new question, I know. I’m culling research to share with the committee I’m on and holy wow, there’s a lot out there on it. Information overloadddddd!!!!! I can read all of that, but I want to hear tried and true: what’s working for you and  your school?

Does your school have something like the ‘Plagiarism Learning Lab’ concept mentioned in the article?

Do you lead the conversation or is it another department, like English or history?

Do you work plagiarism discussion into other areas of school life, like advisory conversations, an opening week seminar, or your senior retreat?

What are you doing to address plagiarism in the digital age?

How Do You Throw Like a Girl?

This summer our history department chair shared a collaborative document of resources for teaching Social Justice and Multicultural Understanding. I was immediately drawn to the link for Spike Lee’s short documentary, Throw Like a Girl about Mo’Ne Davis. In the summer of 2014, Mo’Ne became the first girl to ever pitch a shutout in the Little League World series. She was the first American girl to play in the Little League World Series since 2004. Even if you never plan to use the film in the classroom, I emphatically encourage everyone to watch the 16 minute profile of this incredibly talented, eloquent, and humble young role model!

Embedded in the document shared by our department chair were resources for utilizing the many links in the classroom. I scoured the internet for other ideas and found the Philadelphia Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League’s unit for teaching about gender stereotypes along with this film.

This idea for a new unit to share with my Fifth Grade students also got me thinking about ways in which I could creatively incorporate the theme of our school’s core values which we were rolling-out for this academic year. The core values are: Be Brave, Authentic, Compassionate, Curious, and Spirited. I had created resource lists of books in our library catalog for our teachers to use that showcase a core value within the theme of each book. And after researching more about Mo’Ne Davis, it was clear that she illustrated each of the core values in all that she has accomplished and embodies. In the film there are many references to Mo’Ne’s attendance at an independent school in Philadelphia, which is a great connection for our girls as well.

We began the unit by drawing pictures of baseball players. You can see from the students work below that not all of them chose to illustrate a male player! We displayed the pictures which were anonymous and then captured the commonalities and differences in our drawn characterizations of the players. This activity helped situate our current understanding and where we had areas to grow our learning.

IMG_0738IMG_0740The Fifth Grade students complete a capstone research project at the end of the year which culminates in a five-minute speech for the Lower School. I am fully integrated in this project, and work with the homeroom teachers to prepare the students for their research. As part of this unit on Mo’Ne Davis I sought to actively incorporate the skills students will use later in the year. To that end, I selected articles from the New York Times, CNN, and Time magazine to read and summarize for the class. Resources used for the Fifth Grade speech process typically include multiple formats and this lesson gave students exposure to the news articles most students would use as a source in their speech project. By sharing my rationale for using news articles to learn more about Mo’Ne Davis, I was thrilled to see the students understand my logic and dive in to the readings!

We discussed vocabulary related to the readings and used throughout the film such as stereotype, gender, discrimination, and role model. Our discussions were spirited and we will conclude the unit by viewing Spike Lee’s film: Throw Like a Girl, along with the video: #Likeagirl. The final step in our learning is to throw a baseball and see if we can “throw like a girl” and approximate this young athlete’s incredible speed and location!

Library & Capstone, like PB&J

The Capstone Project, loosely defined as an independent project, typically completed during junior or senior year, allowing a student to complete an in depth study or exploration of something that is meaningful to them that either isn’t included in the school’s curriculum or that allows exploration at a much deeper level. They research it, reflect on it, and then present their findings to their school community. In short, they are going to become your on campus expert on something. A much better, much longer definition is here. Each school puts their own spin on it: will it be required, opt-in, or by invitation only? Will it culminate in a research paper, a TED-style talk, or something else? Will students be assigned  or will they seek out adult mentors?  Will there be internal mentors, external, or both?  The potential scenarios are enough to make your head spin.

My school is in its second year of a pilot capstone program. We call it the “Signature Program“, as in a culminating educational experience as unique to our students as their own signature. We have approximately 36 students (mostly seniors) participating and they apply, find their own on-campus mentor, and most of them also have off campus mentors. Sometimes we help place them, other times they already know of someone; we are constantly seeking out alumnae who might mentor. We have a program coordinator who also teaches biology here and two co-managers who monitor student blogs; I am one of the two. We also have three other faculty members who serve on our planning committee who offer invaluable insight. Our students blog to reflect on and share their journey. I created a libguide to help them get started. Last year, the library was lucky enough to host the Signature exhibition where each student set up either a poster session or a digital representation of their work and the school community came through to listen and ask questions. This year, we are planning the exhibition around reunion weekend and including sessions by notable alumnae as well, to be distributed throughout campus.

In the next few weeks, I will be working with the students to help them research and develop annotated bibliographies for their topics. I am brainstorming ways to create an internal “Mentor Marketplace” where kids can shop for mentors (alumnae and faculty alike) based on interests/skills that they might not be aware of. A math teacher who’s an avid fly fisher-woman? A science teacher who’s a certified pilot? Awesome!  We can’t be bound by curricular tie-in’s in independent schools; we are working with some very dynamic individuals. I’m always looking for ways to do more for the Signature program. Last week, I attended the excellent (free!) AASL Webinar entitled, “Senior/Capstone Project: The Role of the School Librarian” (archived here for members: AASL eCOLLAB) . Many of you asked me to take good notes as you were unable to attend so here goes! I will share with you what I learned and hope that you will respond with your own thoughts and experiences.

I was surprised to learn in the Webinar that there was an actual library/capstone task force out there investigating things, looking for exemplary programs and activities, who published a formal report, the AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force Report. Take a look. Webinar presenters were some of the exemplary program coordinators who were recognized by the task force.

First up: Kay Wejrowski, Swan Valley High School (2013 AASL National Program of the Year). Kay described the themes that her school uses: “Leadership takes many formsand “One person can make a difference. All must answer a few universal questions, “How can I contribute to the world in which I live?” and “What responsibilities do individuals have to our global society?”. Her students do something that is meaningful to them, they “discover their own purpose”. Wejrowski says that the library helps them with each step of the process. They help sort and narrow topics,  help them locate and sometimes purchase a specific “anchor text” for their research. They help the students locate resources outside of the school, identifying potential speakers or local organizations they might partner with. The librarians might edit the student’s research paper, help them locate visual aids for their presentations, or they might host after school work sessions to guarantee that students have adequate time and support to complete their projects. Each student chooses a mentor for their work;  the librarian might be one if asked. My favorite piece of Wejrowski’s talk had to do with librarians capitalizing on their personal relationships with their students to help them find their passion. She said, “the goal is for them to grow academically and as young adults. We [as librarians] talk with them, we get to know who they are and where they are coming from.” In short, knowing our students can help us guide them towards meaningful capstone experiences. I love this.

Brenda Boyer was the next presenter. Side note: this one was my favorite. Brenda is the librarian at Kutztown Area High School in Kutztown, PA. Her presentation was entitled “Raising Rigor Through the Capstone Program” and was recognized by AASL as an award-winning collaborative effort between the school’s library and language arts department. Boyer partnered with two language arts colleagues, fully supported by their administration who secured substitutes for them while they essentially holed up for a week of 8 hour planning sessions. Their goal was to ensure that their students were college ready–that there was uniform information fluency, assessment, and preparation. They really needed that week of planning as their challenges included isolating specific information fluency skills, determining how/when to target these skills, agreeing upon formative and summative assessments, developing rubrics, developing a reflection piece, determining how to “package” content, and developing a process guide. Here’s what they came up with:

An Inquiry Process Guide (Google Doc) where all student work was recorded. They queried faculty to get a feel for “in previous years, students really needed help with ____”, they also spoke with recent graduates about their preparedness for college, and Boyer used her own previous Senior Advanced Research class experience to establish information skill needs. The school is a 1:1 school utilizing Mac Book Pros, so they knew that they wanted to choose platforms that would allow for 24/7 access. They opted to house their project in Moodle. This included all content, instruction, reflection prompts, a glossary of 200 research terms, links to Libguides and actual Libguide content boxes utilizing the API utility. They created a “Virtual Library” using a Libguide loaded with database widgets that they refer to as “Search Apps”. Their goal was to make information accessible in 2 clicks or less. They replicated much of the Moodle instruction within the Libguide as well to make it accessible wherever the student was. The Google drive was then used to house all of the students’ work, the formative evidence, information fluency skills, reflections, rubrics, etc.

The final presentation was given by Michelle Fossum, Research Teacher and Educational Leader, and Lindsay Downs, Research Teacher, of City Charter High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Theirs is unique in that their school has four dedicated “library science certified teachers” who are assigned to a cohort (grade). Each teacher loops with his/her cohort as they advance through the school so their kids get consistent research instruction from the beginning to the end of their high school career. The Capstone is a graduation requirement for each student. Theirs is a year-round school and is divided into trimesters. Each 9th and 10th grader spends a trimester with their research teacher learning the basics. They select their capstone topic as a junior and spend the year doing background research, compiling a 16+ source annotated bibliography, and complete the written component of the project. Senior year is dedicated to completing the action part of the project and presenting their findings to the community. A challenge that they faced was adjusting expectations of rigor as needed for students of differing abilities. They define rigor as being “fully engaged in a personally challenging activity that requires applying knowledge, analyzing information, evaluating situations, and/or creating projects derived from that new understanding.” While interesting, this was the least helpful presentation for me. I am a solo librarian working with students who apply for our program and while subject matter might require some adjustment of expectations of rigor (say, coaching a children’s basketball team vs. writing a novel vs. working with with graduate students at RPI on biomedical research aimed at opening the blood-brain barrier); I simply can not wrap my mind around having four dedicated research teachers to support a program.

Takeaway:

The most helpful/doable pieces that I took from the Webinar are helping students explore topics, select, and perhaps order good ‘anchor texts’, working 1:1 with students to create annotated bibliographies, and utilizing technology to weave information literacy into the project. I am currently working on creating a Schoology page in lieu of Moodle, a Libguide loaded with widgets organized by subject, and I really like the Google doc idea. I could potentially teach a research basics course for sophomores or juniors considering Signature. I’m thinking that I could use a Google doc to meet synchronously with students for virtual reference support. It would be great to answer questions and to record our process for future reference.

If your school is considering a Capstone project, check into the  Capstone Consortium (resources, Summer Summit info, etc.). Our program coordinator attended the Summer Summit last year and did some invaluable networking, not to mention the awesome ideas he brought back for enhancing our program.

Does your school already have a Capstone Program? If so, how does the library support it?

 

 

Libguide Love

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If you are already using Libguides (per Springshare, pronouned lib (as in bib)-guides), then you know how helpful they are in streamlining the research process and integrating information literacy instruction. I find them particularly helpful in shepherding students towards the most appropriate databases, web resources, weaving in source evaluation checklists/instruction, embedding videos, promoting print and ebook collections…I could go on and on. I’m not ashamed, I’ll just say it:

I heart Libguides.

For those of you considering purchase, check out the features. They are reasonably priced and worth every dollar you spend, in my opinion, for the platform they provide for library instruction and integration into existing curriculum. Many university libraries are using them as well, so if you’re a college prep school, exposing your upper school students to them becomes an even more valuable experience.

One of my favorite attributes is the community directory, searchable by keyword, institution type, or my favorite, best of . Inspiration overload!!! In true librarian fashion, you can ask permission, then borrow parts or entire guides that make sense for your school, attributing where the information came from.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a Libguide expert. In my first 12 month position, I plan to become much more savvy this summer and I also plan to build up a good repository from which to draw next year (hopefully creating them poolside with WiFi…hey, it’s work, right?!). So, not an expert, but having started the program from scratch at two schools now, I would share the following advice:

Spend more time on the front end designing a consistent look/feel/flow of your guides so that your students are trained in how to read them. Customize your color scheme/logo to fit with your school’s site. I design my tabs to go left to right through the research process, from assignment home page to book tab, databases, web resource/evaluation, and then citation (or perhaps an avoiding plagiarism tab for good measure?). These things are not just useful for research, though! When my last school announced that they were instituting an iPad program in the middle school, I shared Berkeley Prep’s awesome iPad Initiative guide, tweaking it to fit our school/program. My colleagues were appropriately wowed (thanks CD!). Other schools, like The Overlake School have used a Libguide as their  homepage. I like this too!

I will say that when I start with Libguides, I spend days setting up a good admin guide that goes unpublished. In it, I create as many boxes as possible that I think I might link to later: a Destiny catalog search box, Gale Virtual Reference Library ebook search widget, research tips, citation information and online style guides, that sort of thing. Once this is in place, you can take an assignment and just whip up a guide, linking to those boxes without having to recreate the wheel. Need to make a change? Just do it within the admin guide and the change will be reflected in every guide you’ve linked to that particular box. I have stopped creating database widgets, honestly, because it is typically a basic search and I am trying to train my girls to choose the advanced search option every time to build in Boolean, look for full text, document type, pub date, and just basically create the most sophisticated search that they can do right off the bat.

So now I ask you seasoned Libguide creators: Can you share any lessons learned OR give us the link to some of your guides that you’re particularly proud of?

Newbies: have any questions that others might answer in the comments below?

The Libguides 2.0 platform is being launched now. Here are my notes from the Hot Topics session in Dallas. Have you had any experience with the new version? What do you like/not like?

Come on guys, light this comment area up! I know it’s a crazy busy time of year, but show me some LIBGUIDE LOVE!