Biography Research: Avoiding Plagiarism

5 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT discuss how to avoid plagiarism as they learn to take brief notes from print sources.

Big Idea

Students learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it. They create a step book in order to take brief notes as they conduct research on a famous person.

Part 1: Plagiarism

15 minutes

This is a two-part lesson. I teach students about plagiarism and show them how to create a step book in which they will take brief notes for their research on a famous person.

To begin the lesson, I displayed a poster about plagiarism. I read the definition and ways to avoid plagiarizing. We had a whole class discussion about why it is considered a form cheating and stealing. Students were very insightful by making comments such as, “You didn’t really to the work,” and “You just copied like off of your friend’s paper.” Students connected most with the latter. They know it is wrong to copy from a friend’s paper, so it is wrong to copy information someone else wrote in a book. I emphasized that it is also plagiarizing to copy information from the internet. I did this in anticipation of research they would conduct online at a later time.

Part 2: Step Book

20 minutes

I explained that instead of copying information, you should put it in your own words. This can be done by taking brief notes while researching your person. The notes can be used later to write your own sentences. I showed students how to create a step book. The step book would help them group related information together. I stood in front of the class and showed them step-by-step. (Directions can be found here.) I also displayed the directions on the document camera. This differentiation addressed the needs of my visual and auditory learners. After we created the book, I modeled labeling each step of the book with the following categories: Family (parents, siblings), Childhood (place, birth date, early life), Accomplishments (works, awards), Interesting Facts and Date of Death, and Bibliography (books, web sites).


10 minutes

For assessment, student answered one of the following questions:

  • What is plagiarism?
  • How do you avoid plagiarism?


I had them post it on Wallwishers ( I did this so that students could see everyone’s responses, they could turn their thoughts into text, it created a low-risk environment for shy students, English language learners had time to gather their thoughts, and it is highly engaging.