Tag Archives: O2

Plagiarism Resources and Persuasive Essays in Biology

O2 – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area. O2 means that as a teacher, my job is to deepen my students’ knowledge of the material we are learning.

I have chosen to focus on this aspect of ISTE 4: Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

In our current era, our children are exposed to technology at a very young age. As a parent and educator, it is our responsibility to educate our youth about responsible internet use. Miller and Ribble (2013) state, “Many students are using technology without awareness of technology use etiquette and/or Digital Citizenship.” They go on to propose that school leaders should embed digital citizenship into all aspects of teaching and learning. A classmate of mine, Peter Redling, shared a resource from the New York City Library System. This resource gives lesson ideas and activities for digital citizenship for grades 1-12.


One aspect of ISTE 4 is respecting copyright and the appropriate documentation of sources. Since I teach middle and secondary students, this is an important topic for me. A resource that our school uses to prevent plagiarism is turnitin.com.   Information about turnitin.com is below and another resource about plagiarism created by a colleague at my school.



In Biology in our unit on Genetics and Heredity, one of our learning targets was: The student will debate the benefits and dangers of manipulating DNA in living organisms. My colleague, who is teaching the other section of Biology, had the idea of writing a persuasive essay for this learning target. The students could choose to research the human genome project or DNA manipulation in living organisms. They needed to choose a side of the debate on whether their topic was advantageous to society or more dangerous to society. This assignment gave my students a challenge in the content area because they had to research the issues, take a side, and then give supporting arguments for their opinion. I learned that having students write an essay for a learning target is a worthwhile activity because it deepened their understanding of the issues surrounding the manipulation of DNA in living organisms.

I took the opportunity in this assignment, to use turnitin.com. I also spoke with my students about appropriately citing their sources, and how turnitin can help them do this. We also spoke about plagiarism and what it means. All of the students submitted their paper to me on turnitin.com. I enjoyed using turnitin.com, particularly the built-in grammar corrections as well as the check for plagiarism. In the future, I hope to use turnitin.com again for essay assignments.


Miller, Teresa Northern & Mike Ribble. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.