Getting elementary kids to research? Really? Getting them to look through various sources has always been easy. After all, kids are naturally inquisitive, and they love projects. The hard part was, how do I get them to use their own language and not plagiarize every sentence they read. After all, they want to use their newly-acquired writing skills to produce an interesting paper. One time, I had a wonderful little group of students research and create an undersea mural. They wrote about sea critters and drew darling little graphics to add to their mural. One sweet little boy wrote about the giant squid. Now, mind you, he had no intention of plagiarizing–but–this is what he wrote about the giant squid’s reproductive organ: “The giant squid has a p—s with a 69-foot elongation.” Trying not to laugh in front of him, I pointed to the word and asked him if he knew what it was. Innocently, he said, “No.” I said, “It’s–you know–.” I couldn’t find the right words to explain. Finally, he said “Oooohhhhhhhhh!!!!” His mom and I later had a good laugh. That’s when I decided I needed a method to help kids avoid plagiarism.
I came up with and easy-to-teach and easy-to-learn method. For example, this month we researched historical figures and wrote biographies. I had the students create a flap book where they could write their research notes. We brainstormed categories of information and wrote them on the flaps.
- born September 8, 1954
- oldest of her siblings
- at age 4, moved to New Orleans
- they were poor
- didn’t have much food to eat
|David Crockett, Alamo Hero|
|Quannah Parker, Comanche Chief
|Juan Seguin, Texas Revolution Hero|
So don’t be afraid to teach your kids not to plagiarize. Just cross your fingers and hope they don’t research the giant squid!