Final Thoughts / by Tyler Wood

Since I couldn't teach all of my lessons at once, I decided on the most important, in my mind - plagiarism. I started by using my copyright handout and going over the reasons for why we should cite our sources. My students had many questions, which lead me to believe I chose the right subject. One student even told me that their Korean teacher said 'stealing is learning'. I attempted to explain that what he/she meant (I hope) was that we learn from each other and grow, but that doesn't mean we do not cite our sources and give credit to those that gave you the ideas. 

After our mini-lesson on the subject of copyright and how to cite sources, we went to the computer lab to do some research and put what we learned into practice. I spent a few minutes explaining the basics of searching and let them search for information on Ancient Egypt because we were working on a project on that subject previously. Getting good information about Egypt was only of minor importance, I wanted to see how they would do citing their sources and using quotation marks for exact words they wrote down. As they searched I walked around to guide them and help them and watch to see how they were doing.

What worked well in the mini-lesson?

What worked well was getting at the heart of why we use quotation marks and cite sources. My students had never heard of citing sources before. They had heard of quotation marks for dialogue and vaguely for using the words from the book, but after the mini-lesson it was clear they mostly understood the concept. I used some examples of someone stealing their ideas for an assignment or project and getting a good score and praise from the teacher and they all understood that they would be upset that their idea was not being credited to them. 

What questions did the students have and how did they get addressed?

Most of the questions asked during the mini-lesson were pragmatic in nature. How do we cite? Where do we put the quotations marks? What if there is no on the website? etc... However, as I pointed out before, I had a few students that were confused by this idea because their Korean teacher told them stealing was learning and they didn't understand why they had to cite someone else. That was the meat of my explanation. I explained that this is not just to protect other people's ideas, but to protect theirs as well it became more of an acceptable idea for them. They were starting to see, with my examples of stolen ideas from them, that this is a good idea. 

How will just-in-time lessons on technology be integrated in future lessons?

My lesson this time worked surprisingly well, so I would do the same thing next time. Present the idea then use it in practice right away to get them familiar with it. The only thing hindering that method is that our computer lab is shared with all the classes and has to be booked in advance, so I would have to schedule the lessons far apart from each other, but that might lend itself to a good review from the last lesson before starting the next lesson. Then my students will have to build upon the lessons. For example, they would review citing sources and using quotations marks for exact quotes, then integrate the techniques for finding trustworthy source material. They can build off of each lesson.

What standards lend themselves to technology integration, and how will the knowledge gained in class be implemented for technology integration?

Unfortunately, my school doesn't follow a particular set of standards. Some of our material is American Common Core curriculum and some is not. We don't have a school-wide set of standards, per se. Since we are teaching ESL, the only real standard that we actually strive for is eventual mastery for the TOEIC test. However, that test is not taken until much later than our elementary school, so it remains a background motivator. Generally, our goals in class are internal in nature. Getting the kids prepared for the curriculum in the grade above them. Either way, we do not have any set of standards related to technology directly. The teachers use technology to teach, and the students use computers for one particular test in the computer lab, but there is no standard that I have seen that is pushing technology literacy in the school. I have been slowly pushing for such a thing at school, but that remains a future endeavor, not a current standard. Technology, in theory, could be applied to nearly all subjects in the school if done properly, though. 

How did the students do on the research?

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I was pleasantly surprised with how well my students took to research after receiving the mini-lesson on copyright/plagiarism. Maybe they were excited to be free to use the Internet, or actually interested in Ancient Egypt, or a combination of both, but they were focused and searching well. All of the students stayed on topic looking hard for information about Egypt. One student was even enjoying it a lot. He kept finding facts that he thought were interesting and excitedly raising his hand to ask if I knew this or that about Ancient Egypt. Once I told him I didn't know that King Tut might have been killed by a hippo, he seemed hooked. This was a way to get information even the teacher did not know, it seemed. He wouldn't even look at me, he was so focused. And more to the point, he was citing his sources well the whole time too.

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I was expecting to see a lot of misunderstanding on this and have to walk the students through it, which I did for a few students, but mostly they understood the concept. Some students were even moving into the next mini-lesson before I was able to teach it by asking if this was a good site or not. It was clear to me that this is something the students wanted to participate in and learn about. They all have the Internet at home, but I do not think any of them have sat down with a teacher to learn about how to use it. I'm sure their parents have taught them a few things, but they are hungry for more and that was evident by their voracious researching. A skill most students are not too thrilled about participating in regularly, but these students (mostly), were excited to do so. Even the students who did not seem interested were still reading and looking up things about Egypt, they were just being a bit lazy on writing the information down and/or citing properly.  

I think there is serious potential for technology education at my school after doing this lesson. I would like to do a few more lessons to make sure this was not an anomaly. Once I do a few more technology lessons and the reaction is the same, I can use that information to push for more technological education at my school in the future. The administration has been open to new ideas previously, so perhaps we can start to make changes as early as next year. I have already been pushing for a book-less class or even a flipped class to try it out at our school, so this evidence might help sway the administration to implement more technology into the classroom environment for the students to use, not just the teachers. We already have computers and large touch-screens in classrooms for teachers to use, but we need to bring the students into the fold on the technology. These kids have access to the Internet at home and will be using it a lot for research in just a few years in middle school and high school, so it would be prudent to get them versed in the subject now. I want to teach the students about the world they will be stepping into, not the nostalgic world of my elementary school education. As wonderful as it seems in our heads, our education has been outdated for awhile now and was probably even outdated back then. Our students are entering a world where the jobs many of them will have as adults probably don't even exist right now and we need to start teaching them at the very least, what technology we have now. We need to start young and elementary school is a good place to start. 

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