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The Creative Thinking program introduces the citation and research process related to plagiarism. Instructors may want to assess how much the students already know and understand.

See Plagiarism & You to help gauge your students' knowledge about plagiarism.

Teachers are encouraged to add their own research paper teaching technique necessary for their grade level, citation style guide, specific class subject requirements, e.g. language arts, history, science, etc.


Start the class reviewing the term plagiarism from the previous class. Then talk about how it is easier than ever before to research information on the web to use for our school projects such as research papers, essays, reports, class presentations, etc. No longer do we need to take many notes by long hand on index cards or handwrite reports. It's all done digitally on our computers using word processers and content from the web. Let students know that you are going to review the proper way to research, write, and cite with this digital content for class work including “giving credit where credit is due” (footnote), how to summarize (paraphrase), and synthesize (mash-up) research for their writing.

Discuss various techniques to combine (mash-up) another author's idea into a student's own expression such as summarizing, rewording, and using direct quotations. Find out how many students in the class know what a footnote is and what it looks like. Write the definition of a footnote on the board as a “reference to another source of information.” Then explain the importance and why we make the effort to provide the references (footnotes) for our school papers to provide the reader source background.

Besides questionable plagiarism, as NKU Professor John Alberti notes in the film below it is all about being nice to others. It helps those reading our papers to locate the sources that helped us write a research paper. It is also a way of thanking the source. When students provide their background sources, it is greatly appreciated by teachers, other students, and the author of the source listed in the research. Even in the professional world this courtesy is common and expected. Following the proper methods presented here are encouraged (not only for this class) but future writing for school and work.

Plagiarism In The News

Students could break into smaller groups to discuss news articles about students in the news plagiarizing, e.g. Kaavya Viswanathan. Provide an article from the web about Viswanathan or have students locate similar news stories from the web to talk about where students or adults were caught and reprimanded for plagiarism. Not only have professional journalists and authors been condemned for these dishonorable acts, smart students such as Viswanathan have tarnished reputations for not knowing the rules of plagiarism. It is the intention of this program to inform students and make them aware of when to attribute and cite their sources for their school papers and assignments.

At what point does information used for student papers become common knowledge, e.g. common sense vs. specialized information? At what point should students give credit where credit is due? The optional portion listed below of this session features film clips of NKU Professor John Alberti and related background. His book, Text Messaging also covers this subject in greater detail. In addition, a PBS New Hour link (below) provides related plagiarism news story ideal for high school or college students to view and discuss.

Expert Film: Creative Thinking Credit Where Credit is Due - John Alberti. This is located in Films section. After the film, again ask the students if they understand why citations (footnotes) are helpful for their reports, e.g. information credibility, reference to other students for when they research and write, giving credit where credit is due, etc. Refer to Alberti's Text Messaging book for additional insight and activities such as Gerhardt's “Rules of Attribution” from Chronicle of Higher Education. Also, see Jim Cullen's Essaying the Past (2009) book for high school and college level background on this topic.

Optional News Report Film on this subject may be found online from the PBS News Hour website. This film is tied to a similar lesson plan included below along with handouts related this lesson, e.g. plagiarism news report and footnote exercise.


Paraphrasing Practice

NOTE: Many educators have requested that we introduce information literacy and synthesizing information in student research associated with paraphrasing. Our college level information literacy for classroom applications are available to provide high school instructors the tools to prepare students for both college and career research and writing. Information literacy supports student originality and respect for others intellectual works.

Using information from a source without plagiarizing is not always clear for students. A paraphrasing and citation activity could be implemented next. An introduction about good note taking habits combined with the instructor's established directions for student research papers and essays could be presented. Remember to differentiate between summarizing and paraphrasing versus quoting.

One excellent paraphrasing activity by OWL at Purdue entitled Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words is available @ You could also provide definitions such as the following to support a paraphrasing activity:

Plagiarize -- “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source” (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from

Paraphrase -- “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form” (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from

Footnote -- “a note of reference, explanation, or comment usually placed below the text on a printed page” (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from



Creative Thinking: Paraphrasing versus Plagiarism Activity.

Another project idea is to present an original paragraph from an online encyclopedia such as Wikipedia or a traditional encyclopedia. Pick a subject that is related to your class or a subject that has high interest with the age of your students, e.g. video games or graphic novels. Show students different written examples derived from the entry to see if they can decide which paragraph is an original report and which one is copied with little or no original expression. Students need to be able to explain in each example why it is or is not plagiarism.

Codex (Latin for block of wood, book; plural codices) is a book in the format used for modern books, with separate pages normally bound together and given a cover. It was a Roman invention that replaced the scroll, which was the first form of book in all Eurasian cultures.

Although technically any modern paperback is a codex, the term is now used only for manuscript (hand-written) books, produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages. The scholarly study of manuscripts from the point of view of the bookmaking craft is called codicology. The study of ancient documents in general is called paleography. “Codex.” Retrieved November 18, 2008, from Wikipedia Web site:


  1. Example 1: A codex, Latin for a block of wood has separate pages normally bound together with a cover. It replaced the scroll that is a Roman invention. Technically modern paperback books are codex. The word codex is now used to define manuscripts and books that have been hand-written.

  2. Example 2: While the term codex can be used to discuss any modern paperback book, in current language it is only used to describe manuscripts and books that have been hand-written. The term codex comes from the Latin for block of wood. Codex. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from Wikipedia Web site:

  3. Example 3: A codex Latin for block of wood, book; plural codices is a book in the format used for modern books, with separate pages normally bound together and given a cover. It was a Roman invention that replaced the scroll, which was the first form of book in all Eurasian cultures. Although technically any modern paperback is a codex, the term is now used only for manuscript (hand-written) books, produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages.

Library Mini-Research Project

Library Subject Heading Research Activity or see PBS News Hour lesson and activities @ for similar assignment.

1. Library subject headings & footnoting practice related to plagiarism and honesty in school work

First part: For each of the categories below, try to identify subject headings that might be used to express Plagiarism issues. Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 and assign them one of the categories below. Explain to the students that different disciplines use different terms, and they need to be prepared to use the language of that field. Students might want to create concept maps or another method that works for them during their brainstorming session. After a few minutes (5 or 10 minutes), the groups can reconvene and report their findings to the larger group.

LOCATE SUBJECT HEADINGS: Plagiarism, Report Writing, Cheating (Education), Authorship, Literary Ethics, Information Literacy, Bibliographical Citations, Moral Education, etc.

Second part: Have them search a specific journal or Database with the terms they've chosen, and see if they find other keywords/ terms from that search. Give different groups different assignments.

Third part: Have students research one of the subject they found interesting, locating at least three sources with footnote or endnote citations, write a short paper, and cite correctly. See PBS News Hour Footnoting Worksheet for additional ideas in Handouts or on the web @

Include a comment about practicing good time management to avoid plagiarism. Teachers might encourage students to prepare future large scale research projects into smaller portions to be submitted as the semester progresses. This way the instructor may monitor to students' development of their work and discourse plagiarism as the work is created. The library research activity may also be used in Lesson Two for copyright and fair use.

2. Extra credit homework

Each student is assigned to a different plagiarism question to prepare an answer. They could present the question on one side of an index card and an answer on the reverse side. You may wish that the students to save the index cards, if you will be using the copyright Lesson Two and playing the in-class IP Jeopardy activity. The information from the cards may also be placed into one of the PowerPoint Jeopardy programs for classroom use. See for an example.

3. Scenario case study for student groups

Each group should read this scenario and identify at least four things Ben should have done differently. After identifying them, the group should write four brief, bulleted suggestions of what Ben should do and then discuss these points out loud with the class.

Ben is writing a research paper for his English 101 class. He is writing a 5-7 page paper on the history of hip hop music. He needs to locate four sources and prepare a bibliography (sources list) in the MLA style. He is nervous because this is his first college research paper and he really needs to get good grades to keep his scholarship. The first step Ben chooses is to go to Google or Wikipedia and search for information on his topic. The first four hits in Google sound good, so Ben decides to cut and paste a lot of this information for his first draft. Ben doesn't add the sources found to his works cited page because he plans to paraphrase some of the wording later. Ben finds another website from the top four in Google, and cuts and pastes a little about the history of hip hop and then elaborates on a few points in his own words. Since his professor wanted them to locate at least one book source, Ben goes to the library and writes down some information that might be helpful from an Encyclopedia.

Create An Honor Code

OPTIONAL: If time permits or based on the needs of the class, have students discuss the development of an honor code regarding plagiarism for this class or the school. Students could create an honor code document based on their discussion of the topics of this entire Creative Thinking program.

The honor code could be designed as a brochure with subject related information about plagiarism learned from this lesson. Perhaps it could be put to use beyond the classroom for the entire school.

This project could be spread over the entire Creative Thinking lesson schedule. A banner could be created by the students to post in the classroom or in the school which has the signatures of the students. This gives the students the practice of the legislative and legal process in a democracy. This also reinforces the students' commitment to academic honesty and ethical responsibility as students possessing good classroom character as covered in this program.

The final assessment quiz at the end of lesson two also reinforces this theme as students sign an academic honesty and ethical responsibility agreement which teachers may present when future plagiarism issues arise in the classroom.