Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

No Imitations, Please!

Avoiding Plagiarism

Daniel Schwarz, Sidney Barton, Jane Baber | Published: November 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th, 9th, 10th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts, Science, Social Studies
  • Course Course A.P. Language and Composition, A.P. Literature and Composition, American Literature, Biology I, Biology II, British Literature, Chemistry, Composition, Creative Writing, Earth Science, Economics, Environmental Science, Oklahoma History, Personal Financial Literacy, Physical Science, Physics, Psychology, U.S. Government, U.S. History, World History, World Human Geography, World Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1- class period(s)
  • Duration More 50 minutes


In this lesson, students will work in groups to annotate and summarize texts about plagiarism and its effect on learning. They will reflect on what they know about plagiarizing and how to avoid it in their writing. By teaching one another through group and class discussions, students will better understand what plagiarism is and the steps that can be taken to avoid it.

Essential Question(s)

What is plagiarism, and how do I avoid it to ensure that my writing is authentic?



Students consider their prior knowledge and feelings about plagiarism through Magnetic Statements and I Used To Think, But Now I Know activities.


Groups of students read texts about plagiarism and, using the First Turn/Last Turn strategy, work collaboratively to highlight the main ideas of the texts.


Students discuss what they now know about plagiarism in consideration of what they used to think about the topic.


Each group creates a Collaborative Word Cloud about plagiarism to display in the classroom.


Students reflect on the lesson by noting ways that they can avoid plagiarism.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Magnetic Statements (attached, one copy)

  • I Used To Think But Now I Know handouts (attached, one per student)

  • Copies of various plagiarism texts (linked in the Explore section)

  • Notebook paper

  • Pens/pencils

  • Highlighters

  • Butcher paper

  • Markers

  • Index cards


Display slide 3. As students arrive in class, instruct them to read the Magnetic Statements posted around the room.

Display slide 4. Begin by asking students to "join" the statement that interests them the most or that they believe in the most. Circulate around the room, helping students to assess the different statements and finalize their decisions.

Once all students have joined a group, ask them to discuss their chosen statement for three minutes. Groups can discuss why they chose the statement, why they think it is important, or why it interests them the most.

Display slide 5. After three minutes, instruct students to now "join" the statement that repels, confuses, or annoys them the most. Once they have formed groups around their new statements, ask them to discuss for another three minutes.

Ask for feedback from the groups to share with the whole class. By hearing students' thoughts and reflections, you can assess how much they know about plagiarism and where the main areas of concern exist.

Display slide 6. Pass out copies of the I Used To Think But Now I Know handout to each student. For the first part of the I Use To Think...But Now I Know activity, ask students to write down thoughts, ideas, and words that they know about plagiarism on the left side of the chart. Encourage students to use the Magnetic Statements as a reference as they write.


Assign students to groups of 3-5, depending on the class size, and provide each group with an article about plagiarism. Each group does not need a different article, but it is a good idea to have at least 3–4 articles in order to provide a variety of information about the topic.

Potential articles include:

Display slide 7. Using the First Turn/Last Turn strategy, each student will read the group's assigned article silently. As they read, they will highlight four items from the text that they feel are most important. (If copies of the article are limited, you can instruct students to write down their most important facts on a piece of paper instead of highlighting the article.)

Ask group members to take turns sharing one item they highlighted. The student and those in the group will not comment on it; they will simply name it (per the strategy). After all group members have named each of their four items, they will take turns commenting on why they chose the items. By doing so, students will engage in a collaborative discussion about the topic.


Display slide 8. Ask groups to share out regarding what they learned about plagiarism. During the discussion, write down relevant points, ideas, and facts on the board, clarifying and adding to the points, as needed. Take a picture of the board, or save the slide at the end of the discussion, in order to revisit these thoughts as a follow-up. During and after the discussion, have students fill in the "But Now I Know" column in their charts.


Display slide 9. Organize students into groups of 2–4. Tell groups they will be creating Collaborative Word Clouds about plagiarism in the classroom. Instruct them to begin by getting out a sheet of paper and listing as many words or phrases that they can think of that relate to what they learned about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Give each group a piece of butcher paper and markers. Have them select the best words from their brainstorming session and use those words to create a colorful "word cloud."


Display slide 10. Give each student an index card that they will use to complete a Point of Most Significance activity. Write the following prompt on the board: "The most important point I learned today about avoiding plagiarism is..." Have students complete the prompt on their index cards and turn in the cards as they leave the classroom. Use this information to assess students' understanding of how to avoid plagiarism.