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Truth or Consequences

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Time Estimate

50 minutes


To examine different cases of plagiarism reported in the media within context in order to identify the different ways plagiarism can be defined and to be aware of the various consequences.


  1. Collect four or five articles (or links to the articles) on plagiarism cases in the news. These cases should identify different aspects of plagiarism. Assign the reading of these articles to be done at home before class or allow for time in class to read.

  2. Divide students into groups of four or five, depending on how many articles you want to cover. Each group of students should be reading a different article. So, for example, the four students in Group A should read “Hamilton President Resigns Over Speech.” Group B should read “Fame Can’t Excuse a Plagiarist”, etc. As students read their article, they should complete the table titled “Truth or Consequences” as it pertains to their article. After each student has individually read his/her article, have students discuss the article within their group to make sure they understand the main points.

  3. Divide students into new groups, each new group consisting of one student from Group A, Group B, etc. Each student then explains his/her article to the new group. The other students complete the Truth or Consequences Table as it pertains to each article.

  4. After students have discussed their articles within their groups, complete the same table on the board, eliciting responses from the class. Discuss issues related to the articles as questions arise, including how context may change the definition and/or consequence of plagiarism.

  5. Ask students to read back through their answers on the plagiarism attitude scale. In response to the articles read, would they change any of their answers on the scale? What questions do they still have about issues presented on the scale?


For homework, have students read the article “School Cheating Scandal Tests a Town’s Values.” Ask students to write a journal entry responding to the final consequence of the plagiarism case described in the article.

Possible Follow-up

An appropriate follow-up lesson to this one would be, for example, the lesson titled “Big Picture” or “Comparing Policies,” in which classroom policies on plagiarism are examined.

Computer Lab Option

If doing the reading in class, students can access the articles online and complete the Truth or Consequences table.