I was a little taken aback by a comment earlier, regarding my indignance of the plagiarism. And I know that most of the comments said completely opposite things. But I get defensive and feel the need to explain myself...to prove that I'm in the right, or at least not an idiot.
You say that plagiarism a rampant problem. I believe you completely.
So why in the world would you deride me for doing something about it? If it's such a problem, the first step is to let the students know that it's wrong, isn't it? Why accept it and ignore it? Why be so complacent and then insult someone for standing up for the right thing and fighting the problem?
If they've gotten away with it before, or if they get away with it in the future, well, I can't help that. They're only eleven; maybe this was their first 'offense.' I can help what goes on in my room. I will not let them get away with it, and I have no problem telling them off for their misbehavior. I can try and nip it in the bud; I'd rather it be their last offense.
Plus, if you read the post, you saw that right away I did begin helping them learn how to write in their own words. I'll definitely be continuing that when I can.
Here's the thing about this year's crop of kids, or at least mine: most of them are very high level, and good writers, and they really can--and actually do--do well on that level. This year I have not seen plagiarism before; perhaps it was, as Ms Frizzle pointed out, some vagueness on my part in writing/telling the assignment. (I know that's something I need to work on, and I am, and I think I'm improving, if slowly.) But as I told the students, we've all been working hard and improving; there was no reason to go and abandon everything we've done for the last five months. That's what disappointed me; they haven't shown that easy-button mentality before.
The good ones--and I have many--shouldn't need the severe talk. Sadly, some of those good ones cheated here. So it was my hope to set them all straight--guilty and innocent alike. These are decent and sweet kids who really want to work hard and succeed. Obviously I would be surprised when that changed all of a sudden.
I'm still new, and apparently I have some ideals and morals left. That's actually a good thing in New York! I'm no hippie bubblehead; I've become awfully jaded awfully quickly about the reality of the situation here. Still, I've got to try to do what I can to steer the children toward the right path, whether or not they choose to take it. That's just who I am, and I think it's a positive trait for a teacher in this city, to keep striving for the right thing despite the shitty circumstances.
Thanks for the love and support, y'all, keep it up! We can all fight the good fight!