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1/I know that many teachers run into copyright issues when sharing materials between each other. I’ve run across this issue when using online textbooks. It is a simple matter of sharing web addresses and login information, so it can be quite easy to “borrow” materials from other teachers. While many teachers are well intentioned, only meaning to share, this is unlawful. According to Rich Stim, “a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose” (Stim, 2010). This means that while a teacher could share a few paragraphs from an online textbook, they can’t simply pass along the entire book.

From what I’ve gathered from reading some of the resources provided, many of the problems teachers and students run into with copyright and fair use, is how much material is used. According to Stim, “the less you take, the more likely that your copying will be excused as a fair use” (Stim, 2010). This means that teachers taking a photo here, or a few paragraphs of an article there, will probably not run into copyright problems. However, a student who copies and pastes an entire article, or uses an entire video in their work, could definitely have problems.

I have had conversations about this topic in the past at my school. Myself and a lot of other teachers, have asked for professional development on this topic in the hopes of better understanding what is acceptable and not acceptable for both teachers and students. We have never gotten a firm response from our administration, partly I believe, because they don’t fully understand this topic either. I have heard from other teachers from other schools, and they have had little to no training as well. I think having training for teachers in how to handle this in the classroom would be very beneficial. I would very much like to know if teachers out there have gotten themselves into legal issues with this type of thing. I always hear about lawsuits and legal trouble, but I haven’t seen any of this first hand. I always hear from someone who knows someone. I’d like to understand what those teachers did, how they got caught, and what they had to do to rectify the situation. It’s very difficult to determine exactly where the “line” is and I’d want to make sure I’m not crossing it myself.

2/ One of the most prevalent ethical issues in schools today is that of plagiarism. Since information is so readily available in today’s digital world, plagiarism seems to be more tempting than ever to students. While I don’t have many opportunities for students to plagiarize written work in my math classroom, I have still been a part of many conversations with my colleagues regarding the topic. The most common theme that I hear when students plagiarize is that they don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong, because they see the internet as being information available for everyone to use as they wish. Because of this, I believe the lines are blurred on what constitutes cheating and plagiarizing in the classroom in general when students are so used to looking up answers and solutions online. As discussed in the podcast, “Cut and Paste Plagiarism” it is important to “create students of greater integrity”(McCabe, 2006) so it is important for students to know that plagiarism can happen in ways other than just copying and pasting text from a source. Being that I teach primarily freshmen students, I believe if I were to encounter a plagiarism incident, I would use it as a teaching opportunity to show students the correct way of showing honesty and integrity in their work. This can include both citing written work, but also being honest in the completion of problems in math and science classes as well. I believe taking this approach will create the digital citizens we hope our students will become rather than, as McCabe puts it, “look for plagiarism and punish it”(2006).

While I don’t have experience with students plagiarizing written work, I do have experience with students using the internet to find solutions to math problems and plagiarizing the work that goes along with that. In order to try to avoid this, I do try to incorporate questions on assignments that require students to explain their answers to truly show understanding. Many times students simply don’t realize that what they’re doing is plagiarizing and I do believe this happens in the fields of math and science as well. Students find an online resource that gives them an answer and they see it as using resources instead of cheating. While there is nothing wrong with using resources to help you better understand, I believe some students don’t know the difference between that and copying the work you find and claiming it as your own.

I found an article by Linda Starr to include some interesting ways to avoid plagiarism rather than have to look for it after the fact. I came across one idea while I was reading that may address the students who don’t fully understand the process. Instead of just demonstrating once or twice how to cite and create bibliographies, Starr suggested that teachers have students, “include citations on all notes, put quotes around notes taken directly from a source, and indicate work that is closely paraphrased”(2002). While it may take class time during the note-taking process, I do believe it would save instructional time when students have to write their own research papers for assignments and include citations. It may also deter the students who plagiarize because they think the process is too tedious since they will have plenty of experience doing it already.

Another topic my mind quickly jumped to is that of buying and selling resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. I have never sold anything on Teachers Pay Teachers, however, I often seek out resources from the site if I am lacking the creativity to create something on my own. While the issue of sharing resources purchased on the site seems fairly clear cut, I do still have questions on what is fair to sell on the site. My school district pays for a software program that is essentially a problem generator. It allows you to create worksheets or practice problems for your use, which is especially nice for math when I need to include geometric figures or graphs. I often will take the problems from this software and include it in my lessons for notes, graphic organizers, or to create activities such as scavenger hunts and matching cards. So, since I am using images that I did not create myself, is this something that is allowed to be sold on Teachers Pay Teachers? I have come across many activities on the site created by other teachers that include images. Is this considered fair use? I tend to think that since I am taking the problems and transforming them into something like a graphic organizer instead of just a worksheet, which the software allows you to create, that it would be considered fair use, but is this true?

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