July 2008
Vol 5 No 7

Current Issue » Cover Page Cover Story Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns Articles Features
Back Issues
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.7 July 2008

Cover Story by Sue Gruber
It’s Summer…Time to Shift Gears and Re-energize!
A lighthearted perspective on what summer break can and should be.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Eight Year Summary of Articles

»To Tell the TruthLeah Davies
»Discipline Without Stress, Inc.Marvin Marshall
»Teaching through Summer TV ViewingCheryl Sigmon
»A New Unified Field TheoryTodd R. Nelson
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Get the Most Out of Being MentoredHal Portner
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman
»Keyboarding: Some Assembly RequiredRob Reilly

»Who’s Cheating Whom?
»Dealing with Dishonesty
»How To Prevent Cheating in Middle and High School
»When Is Student Failure The Teacher’s Fault
»Frogs Predict Massive Chinese Quake of 2008
»July 2008 Writing Prompts
»What Are We Doing? And Why Are We Doing It?
»"Boys Read" Effort Aims to Turn Boys Into Readers
»A Teaching Guide for Summer Song
»12 Test Taking Strategies that Boost Student Scores!
»Gardner-Style Lesson Plan: Molecular Basis of Heredity
»Federal Government Resources for Educators
»You Be the Chemist Activity Guides

»Cheaters! Teachers talk about their experiences
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»Candles of Inspiration: July 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: July 2008
»Video Bytes: The "Impotence" of Proofreading and More
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for July 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: July 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Using Test "Cheat Sheets" To Enhance Student Learning
»"Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Teach"
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Sue Gruber

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Marvin Marshall, Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, Todd R. Nelson, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Susan Fitzell, Meryl D. Joseph, John Martin, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, L. Swilley, and YENDOR.

Submissions: click for Submission Guidelines

Advertising: contact Bob Reap

Subscribe for free home delivery

Teachers.Net Asks...

Chatboard Poll

Teachers.Net Chatboard Poll...

Cheaters! Teachers talk about their experiences
Regular Feature in the Gazette
July 1, 2008

Teachers.Net asked teachers on the Teacher Chatboard:

During your teaching career have you witnessed or learned of any unusual incidents or unusual amount of cheating on schoolwork or tests? Who are the kids who cheat, and why do they do so? How was it handled once discovered?

Posted by Linda
One of my favorites:

I taught 6th grade Social Studies in a K-6 parochial school. In order to learn world geography, each week we'd learn the nations in a small region. Then on Friday, we'd have a quiz and the students had to write the names of the nations in their spot on the regional map. It was identical to the map we'd used during the week, except for the lack of names.

One day a boy copied his answers from the girl next to him. He was someone who did as little work as possible throughout the year and I sat him near her because he wouldn't really benefit by cheating off of her. When I returned to school after grading the quizzes, I took them into the hall and explained that I knew one had cheated off the other. The girl quickly exclaimed, "I would never cheat!" I pointed out that I knew she wouldn't, and that the boy had copied off of her.

How did I know he copied? The map was Norway, Sweden, etc. They both wrote down England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales... the nations from the week before! His consequence was the natural zero from writing down all the wrong names and the knowledge (pointed out, of course) that had he studied instead of cheating, he obviously would have gotten a higher grade.

Posted by ap
High School, 9th grade English. I didn't teach English, but the assignment was to take a lunch sack and put things inside of it that represent a book that was read. Also, on the outside of the bag, certain things had to be mentioned/described.

So, in my science class Danny gets a delivery from the office aide. It is a brown lunch bag. He looks at it and says he doesn't know what it is. He looks inside and says he has never seen these things before in his life. Someone in his class tells him it is his English project. He figures out that his mom did the whole thing for him and delivered it to school so he could turn it in.

This mother was famous for cheating for her kids. She wanted Danny to take his keyboarding tests at home.

Posted by Stellaluna
This is something that happened to me as a student.

I had a friend who was not a good student at all. School was easy for me... but not for "Susie".

We sat together because we were friends, but she tended to rely heavily on me for answers. When we had a test, I could see her trying to see my answers off my page... and often she was successful.

I got tired of it so I started writing all incorrect answers and did not try to hide paper as I usually did. I waited until Susie handed in her paper and then quickly changed the answers to the correct ones and handed it in. She was very puzzled when the tests were returned and I continued to get A's and she failed the tests.

As an adult... and as a teacher... I am not proud of what I did. This was a kid who was sweet and really did work hard but she wasn't very "school" smart. At the time I was glad that I finally found a way to get her to stop cheating off me. But it was really not Susie who failed, but the system.

We had a large class of about 34 6th graders... I don't remember Susie getting any kind of special help or support. But this was 30 years ago.... have things changed much?

Another "cheating" story involved something that I did… and I thought I was so clever! Same year... 6th grade. We would get math sheets that had the answers in code at the bottom but only for every other line. I would do the first line that was coded and crack the code. I still had to do every other line because those math problems didn't have an answer key in code. I thought I was very clever, as I said, but what I didn't realize at the time was that I probably worked harder and learned more by figuring out the code than if I had just done the problems! haha...

I bet my teacher knew it too!!!!

Posted by mrsd
Eighth grade boy, only child and spoiled rotten. This was during the research report process. He turned in a rough draft, fully cited, etc. He was a bright kid, but not THAT bright, to be writing as well as he did. So, I checked his sources - ALL his sources. Nothing matched up with the sources. So, because it was the rough draft, he got a zero for plagiarism, AND I wrote plagiarized on the paper. Next thing I know, the principal called me down to talk about the research process and how I did it. I knew what was coming and was proud of myself for having the foresight to copy all of the boy's papers. Anyway, I took the books from the learning center and the copy of the paper. I encouraged my prince to please find the places in the books that matched up with what the boy had written. What came of this? Well, the boy got to redo his rough draft for 1/2 credit, which infuriated me, but I sympathized with the prince, as he'd had to deal with mommy dearest for three years. Plus, since then, we are forbidden to write "plagiarized" on student papers. Now, I write "be careful" whenever I notice that work is not original. I could write so many more about the students who really don't think I'll notice that they are NOT using their own voice in writing their research papers.

Posted by KP/OK/Eng
I once received an unexpected call from a parent inquiring about her daughter's *real* grade in my class. It seems that dear daughter had been painting for mom a different picture concerning her grades and upon receiving a mid-term progress report generated through the counseling office, she and a friend went to the public library, logged on to a computer, and set about concocting new progress reports complete with school address, phone number, etc. This keen-eyed mom smelled trouble when she noticed that her daughter had misspelled my last name.

Posted by Stellaluna... just thought of another cute one...
I don't know if this counts as cheating... you decide.

I was teaching 2nd grade. One of my boys got into trouble, I forget for what. It was serious enough that we sent a note home, but not serious enough that I had to call.

I had sent a note home to be signed by the parent(s) that they had read the note, were aware of the behavior, and that was about it.

The note came back obviously signed by the child. He had signed the dad's first name only and it was very much in a young child's handwriting.

I happened to have a parent conference schedule a couple of days later so I let it go (as I said it wasn't a serious infraction) with the plan to bring it up at the conference.

The mom couldn't help but laugh. She promised to take it up with her son (she did... they were a great family) but she said she knew she should be mad, but it was pretty darn cute. It was. So she asked if she could keep the note with the plan to bring it out at his wedding some day or something.

He would be in his mid 20's now.... I wonder if she kept the note?

Posted by Zhel
Our "usual" amount of cheating is what would be considered highly excessive by standards of most teachers on this forum; I think it has to do with culture.

Almost all of our kids would cheat here and there; they do so in order to get a higher grade. Even kids who are able to get As cheat, even if they know enough for a B+. The most common version is that there is a test and it asks for factual knowledge, and students mostly use the "wandering eye" technique (looking at other people's papers), followed by the actual cheat sheets (the lower students find making cheat sheets too time-consuming, it seems, so they just look around instead).

Over time I have noticed that they became less careful; their cheat sheets are too big, or they turn around and can not read the other person's handwriting so they sit there and stare at the other person's paper. I guess they expect that teachers will feel pity for the poor students and just let them copy, and I guess it worked at least once before if they are not trying hard to conceal the fact that they are cheating.

Once a boy protested that he made a bunch of cheat sheets (he pulls them out of the pocket and shows them!) and that he can not answer any of these questions with them; why couldn't I make an easier test so he could use them? (He was a B+/A- student according to the grade book)

Btw I also had a fellow student similar to "Susie" when I was in middle school, and I used the same technique as the other poster.

If I catch a student blatantly cheating, I give them an F in the official grade book. If I see them leaning toward somebody's paper, I give them a minus; if they get two minuses it is an F in the official grade book.

I try to make my tests so that the mere recognition of facts will not bring you a high grade; you have to explain them in whole meaningful sentences. I started using a 3-point system for each test question.

Posted by Dux
Two of my favorites:

1) I noticed some extra papers on a student’s desk. No big deal because they were allowed extra paper for scratch. As I walked around, the student began gathering up the papers to turn in. I told him I wanted all of his work and when he hesitated, I took his test and stapled it to the whole pile. Later, as I was grading, I found cheat notes and another student’s test from a different class stapled in the pile. The plan was to turn in the other paper when I wasn’t paying attention. Turns out this was not the first time but I’m sure it was the last. Mom and Dad of either one were not happy and one got suspended from the football team for a failing grade.

2) I had a student who continued to do exceptionally well on my tests despite putting out no effort at all. He didn’t seem that smart either. I began to watch him like a hawk but I never observed him even glancing away from his test and yet he’d get almost everything correct, even problems I knew had to be beyond his ability. As I considered the possibilities, the only thing I could think of was that he was getting my key. So for the nine-week exam, I left a fake key in my normal place. The answers on the “key” were totally made up and made no sense at all. Sure enough, he had all the planted [but incorrect] answers on his major exam. His Dad was a judge and was also on the school board and it really hit the fan when he got a zero and a serious mark on his discipline record. I learned to lock my room when I went to lunch.

Posted by Donna music/TN
My first year, I taught 1st grade language development. They were mostly children who didn't qualify for ESL officially, but were just over the line, or children who hadn't had Kindergarten (not required) or had been promoted only because, since K wasn't required, the K teachers could only retain if the parent requested it.

I had one little boy who just wasn't getting it, and really should have been in K. However, he was good at faking it. Every time he'd get a paper, he'd sneak a look at his neighbor's page, and dutifully copy everything down. INCLUDING the other child's name.

If we had our "offices" [desktop study carrels] up, he'd dutifully copy his personal word wall from inside his office. Didn't matter if it was a math page.

The kid was "not yet mastered" on everything but handwriting. His penmanship was beautiful.

We did get him in Title I, but couldn't get him in special ed since that school didn't consider him to be "behind enough" to qualify yet. He did eventually learn to put his own name on his papers, but I'm not convinced that he could read even his own name at the end of the year.

I moved to a different state, so I don't know what happened to him.

Posted by zodea
I am not much of a storyteller, but I think cheating is more common than anyone wants to admit.

I have seen students with all the right answers to the other version of the test. This is more likely to happen if it is not obvious the two versions are the same. (Sometimes I just change the location of the page number at the bottom of the page. Sometimes I keep the first page the same and all the other pages different.)

I have had students switch tests with someone so that they had the same version as the person sitting next to them. This happened on a high school final exam! I gave them new copies of the test and made them start over. Both ended up with very bad grades on the test.

I use multiple versions on almost any test I give. I often have six different versions because then the person isn't sitting near anyone with the same test. (my software does the different versions and answer keys so it is not any extra work).

I confiscate papers that are being copied all the time. It does not seem to slow down the copying. I'm sure they are doing it big time in study hall.

I no longer print tests until the day before I need them. That way it is much less likely that the answer key will be floating around. I had a student who always wanted version D because his name started with D. I think he had managed to get a copy of the key and that is the one he memorized.

We have a new teacher at our school. I suspect there is a LOT of cheating in his classes. I had some new students show up at new semester when the classes got rearranged. I told them if more than two people had the same data/answers on the lab, all of those involved would get zeros.

So I had 2 students who got zeros because of copying. I got the argument, "I filled in all the blanks and a I answered all the questions why did I fail?" And I told them "Because you were wrong" (Their work and questions did not match their data. It matched another group's data.)

Instead of doing their own work they managed to switch back to the other teacher. He would give in any time a student confronted him because he had several confrontations and was trying to avoid any more.

Oh well… I'm sure we could all go on, and on, and on. I don't feel like cheating is as bad now as my first two years of teaching. I feel bad that I need to go to such great lengths to avoid it, but students are more concerned with grades than with learning.

Posted by ksmo
This incident happened about 10 years ago when I was teaching 1st grade. I was giving a spelling test when I caught one of my boys cheating. He had written the words on a smaller piece of paper. We were only on the first word so I just took the paper that he was cheating from and kept on giving the spelling test. Well a couple of minutes later I noticed that same kid cheating again. He had another piece of paper with the words on it. This time I just took the test paper and tore it up in front of him. I continued to give the test to the rest of the class.

Posted by 8th grade
One time I gave a True/False quiz to my first period class. All the answers were TRUE. Second period came and I reworded the questions and made all the answers FALSE. You wouldn't believe the looks on faces when they missed every question. The rest of the day, I mixed up TRUE and FALSE and kept getting some with all TRUE answers and some with all FALSE answers. I never said a word about the scheme. I tell this story to my students every year and keep them guessing.

Posted by Retired/Gr1/NC
Many years in first I have had one or two who would copy any and everything (including the other child's name) and could/would not even get started alone... this particular year I had 6!!!! I got tired of getting after them and put them all at one table... you should have seen them looking around, waiting for one of them to start so the others could copy!!!! LOL It took days but they began slowly to take the initiative...was a rough year!!!

Posted by Tina/8th
I have a sheet that I use for warm-ups. There are spaces for 5 questions and 5 answers, one for each day of the week. I collect it on Friday. Their entry procedure is to take out their warm-up sheet and copy the question and write the answer. I am taking roll, etc.

Directly after we answer it everyone holds theirs up for me to see and if it is blank, I put a big zero on it. Rarely happens. The questions are all review. (Otherwise kids would not be doing their warm-up sheet and would instead be socializing and then get the question and answer from someone before I collect on Friday)

Anyway, in my honors class, one girl never works. I am writing zeros on her everyday.

I email grade reports home weekly so mom sees all zeros like she has been seeing all semester and decides that kid is not going to lunch until work is done.

Next day kid brings me the warm-up sheet to grade. No way she could have done it without coming to me. I would have given her 5 different questions if she were really interested, so it would not have just been an exercise in copying.

Dummy had turned in her friend's work, complete with grade on it. (They had thought to white out her name.)

This was 7th grade science.

She was removed from all honors classes this coming year for similar things in all classes. She is smart. She has no motivation to do anything. Mom is at a loss and in my opinion has given up on her.

The girl who had given her the work - well I called her grandmom who I had already talked to regarding the girls association with this other girl and how it played into her grades. She was grounded as the kid said, "until she gets married or graduates from college, which ever happens first"

Additional articles concerning Cheating in this issue of Teachers.Net Gazette are;

» More Gazette articles...