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Friday, November 28, 2014

7 Good Resources for Avoiding, Preventing, and Detecting Plagiarism

Thanks to an email from a kind reader I discovered that a couple of the resources about plagiarism that I reviewed in the past are no longer as good as they once were. Therefore, I have created this updated collection of resources for teaching students to how to avoid plagiarism along as well as resources for preventing and detecting plagiarism.

Education is the best prevention:
Purdue's OWL website is the number one place I refer students and parents to for questions not only about plagiarism, but also for questions about all parts of the writing process.

A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism is an infographic guide created by Kate Hart. A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism uses a Harry Potter theme to succinctly explain to students when and why they need to properly cite the sources of their information. I've embedded the infographic below, but I encourage you to visit Kate Hart's blog post about it as she goes into more depth on the topic of plagiarism.

Plagiarism Explained by Common Craft.



Plagiarism.org, produced by the same people that produce the commercial plagiarism detection software Turn It In, has a free learning center for students and teachers. Plagiarism.org's learning center includes tips about avoiding plagiarism, definitions of plagiarism, and explanations of when you do or do not have to cite a reference. Plagiarism.org also hosts two recorded webinars addressing the topic of plagiarism in schools and how teachers can educate their students about plagiarism. 

Tools and methods for detecting plagiarism:
The first thing I do when I want to check a student's work for plagiarism is to do a quick search onGoogle. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don't think they've written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may also want to search on Google Scholar.

Plagiarism Checker created as a project for the University of Maryland, is an easy-to-use tool for detecting plagiarism. Simply enter a chunk of text into the search box and the Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was plagiarized.

Paper Rater is a free service designed to help high school and college students improve their writing. Paper Rater does basic spelling and grammar checks, but the real value of Paper Rater is that it tells students if their papers have elements of plagiarism. Paper Rater scans students' papers then gives students an estimate of the likelihood that someone might think that their papers were plagiarized.

How the Human Heart Works - A Video, an Animation, and an App

Earlier this week I featured a TED-Ed video and a free iPad app about how human lungs work. As a follow-up to that post I have two videos and a free iPad app about how the human heart functions.

Ur Blood, Brother explains the basic functions of the human heart. The video can be found on YouTube or on the Rhyme 'n Learn website. The video includes captions with the lyrics. If you want an easy-to-print version of the lyrics, visit Rhyme 'n Learn.



The Human Heart is an animation produced by Explania. The animation allows visitors to learn about the parts and functions of the human heart by clicking on different parts of the heart to find short explanations of that part's function. Your students can access the interactive animation on the Explania website or you can embed the animation into your blog or website.

The Human Heart - Explania

Virtual Heart is a free iPad app that allows users to take a closer look at how the human heart functions. The free app lets users speed up and slow down the virtual heart rate. Users have four views of the heart in the app. The views are of the electrical system, the valves, blood flow, and the interior of the heart. Each view can be experienced with or without labels. The first time each view is tapped, a short introduction to that view is displayed.

Fun Things for Teachers and Students To Do In the Snow

This week the first real snowstorm of the year hit us in Maine. Winter is a tough time to get outside and exercise. But if you have some fun activities planned, it is a little bit easier to go outside. Here are some fun and somewhat educational activities to do in the snow.

NOVA, as part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo. (If you do either of these activities, make sure that you closely supervise students. A collapsed snow cave or Igloo can be very dangerous).

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. How Cast has video directions for making an emergency pair of snowshoes.

In the video below BBC Survival Expert Ray Mears teaches viewers how to make an igloo and what igloos were traditionally used for.


When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book(Amazon link). That book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities.

Two Places to Help Students Find Fiction and Non-fiction Works by Location

Since the first time that I looked at a map as a child and asked my parents about various places on it, I have been intrigued by learning about far-off places. Over the years, I have had students that were similarly intrigued by places they see on the map. I'm sure that you have students similar to mine. The next time you have a student who is curious about a place, take a look at the following two resources to help them find fiction and non-fiction works set in those locations.

Novels on Location is a map of more than 500 fiction works. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story's geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.

Applications for Education
You and your students could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom versions of Novels on Location and mapFAST. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. It could be a fun challenge for your class to try to collectively "read around the world" by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.