It’s Research Paper Time!

It’s that time of the year again.  The time where I catch all the little cheaters in the many ways they cheat.  That’s right – it’s time for reeeseearuchhhh paaaaapurrrsss!  (Pretend with me that I just said that in an awesome announcer’s voice.  My imagination is all that I have left!)  I teach 11th grade and one of the dreaded months for us all is writing research papers.  Instead of reading 36 incredibly boring (and probably wrongly misinterpreted literature analyses), I allow them to write argumentative papers on any topic they choose (with the exception of abortion, gay rights, and a couple other issues I don’t think high schoolers can actually grasp and argue effectively without  writing an argument for religion.  The world is your oyster!  Choose whatever topic floats your boat, but remember to choose one you will still love in a month when you have read it 100 times.

This semester, I’ve had some…interesting topics.  I like seeing what kids come up with, and I do enjoy seeing their own opinions on them too.  Here are some of the topics:

  • Hunting (I teach in a rural area – they all fight for this topic)
  • Animal Testing
  • Sports (and anything involving steroids or paying atheletes)
  • Dress code (an easy staple)
  • Technology (cell phones) in school
  • Offshore drilling
  • Video games and the effects on children
  • Capital Punishment
  • Illegal immigration

Potentially a great basket of knowledge bursting at the seams.  But, alas, there’s not a lot of original thought going into these papers because over half of my students cheat on them.  When I first spot a plagiarized sentence, I mark it and give the paper a 0, then quit reading.  Why would I continue to waste time reading someone else’s thoughts and articles?  If I wanted to know more, I’d look it up myself.  And let me just add that I WILL catch them all.  It is my goal to make sure that none of them even get close to trying to fool me on these papers. Of course, some slip through the cracks but I just handed out almost half a class full of zero’s for rough drafts.  I do this also to emphasize that they MUST edit the paper before the final copy is due.  If they cheat on the final copy, they will not only fail the 9 weeks but (most of them) will end up failing my class and will be taking it again.  OH and when they repeat the class because of failing it the first time – it makes it so much fun for all of us involved.  So. Much. Fun.

So while, usually the list of “best quote” is quite long…this time it’s pitifully short.

  • “Capital punishment isn’t very cheap, but it gets the job done.”
  • “They should send them back to the other border so the American people should get their jobs back and more money in their wallets so we can pay our bills and fed ourselves.”

I can’t make this stuff up. 

This post is my attempt to try NaBloPoMo, where people try to blog everyday for the month of November.  I like setting myself up for failure (hello- I missed Day 1!).   BUT I hope it’ll get me back into a routine of writing again.


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