Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Battle Between Kids and Grownups Rages On

The longer I teach, the more resourceful they become. For a few years now, I've been helping ESL kids pass the English Regents. I used to have them write at home, but it got to be a huge chore sorting out all the nonsense kids printed directly off the net, often with the addresses intact. I then decreed no more homework, and all writing would be done in the classroom.

But the kids found that all the English Regents exams, the ones I used for practice, were right there on the net. Why bother taking notes on those nasty listening passages when you could just copy them verbatim from your computer? Unfortunately for them, I had the text, knew it quite well after having read it aloud over ten times, and refused to accept verbatim renditions that still failed to address the questions.

But next they got more tricky, and started copying the sample comps from the teachers' guides off the net. I knew the styles didn't match, so I printed them out. Even when confronted with word for word identical essays, some kids denied copying. One even got transferred out of my class, citing how preposterously unreasonable I am.

It's really extra busy work for me having to print out all this stuff and check against it, but I hate it when kids get over on me. I'm told Kaplan makes mock-Regents exams that are sold at bookstores. I'm gonna try them out, as I think going to stores and buying books will prove beyond the pale for most teenagers.

I thought I was lucky that I had a literature class to balance this, but it turns out they've found ways to cheat there too. Sometimes I'll have them summarize the reading for homework (as many kids won't read unless you make them write too).

But yesterday morning, when I decided to check homework very carefully, I noticed one kid writing much better than that particular kid could write. I bullied her into admitting she'd copied it from the net. Then I read the same thing twice more. I went to an office with a working computer and printer, and I tried Sparknotes. Drat! No luck. Cliff Notes. No good. Then I typed the lines into Google and found Bookrags.

So that's where they steal from nowadays, what with the demise of Classic Comics and all. Bookrags seems an apt name, as it encourages kids to treat books like rags, like a chore, like taking out the trash.

I hope I can show them they're wrong. But till I do, I'll keep catching as many of them as I can.
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