Students reading online summaries instead of the book!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by daisy04, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. daisy04

    daisy04 Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2007

    Sorry, but I need to vent a little! :rolleyes:

    Anybody have good suggestions on what to do when your kids are checking online summaries (sparknotes, book rags, etc.) instead of reading the book?! I'm so irritated with a few of my seniors (yes, seniors!) who refuse to read. A couple of days ago, we started reading a Grisham novel in class, and today I already had some looking for online summaries - and right in front of me!! If you're going to do that, you could at least be smart enough not to do it in front of the teacher! What irked me the most was not even the fact that they were looking for summaries - it was the smug look on their faces when they found them...like they had won...found a way around the system. Grr...

    ...deep breath... :)
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 1, 2007

    It's the new millenium version of Cliff Notes. Ever since there has been education, there has been a group of kids who try to beat the system.

    I'm a math teacher, not English, so I'm not sure how much help I can be. But how long are these summaries? Surely not incredibly long. Could you test on some quotes typical of a particular character? Or ask for specific examples of something? (I'm not a Grisham fan, so this is probably totally off base) -- Maybe ask for three examples of foreshadowing?
     
  4. daisy04

    daisy04 Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2007

    It's been happening for a long, long time, but as a first year teacher, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it. :)

    Similar things happened when we read a novel earlier in the year. I tried to put some quotes from the book in the test ("Who's talking here, and what's he talking about?", "What is the significance of this quote?" etc). I could also throw in some literary terms, like you're suggesting. Force them to take the story and apply it, which I should be doing anyway...

    I'd still love to hear any more suggestions, though!
     
  5. GatorGal

    GatorGal Cohort

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    Feb 1, 2007

    I wish people realized how superficial and shallow online summaries are (such as CliffNotes).

    I don't know if this would work in every secondary ed classroom, but my professors do a lot of comparison essays between books. That way it is virtually impossible to rely solely on summaries.
     
  6. daisy04

    daisy04 Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2007

    It seems that you can find some fairly detailed ones. Of course, if you're not willing to read the book, you probably won't read a really long plot summary either...haha.

    Sometimes I feel guilty when I toughen up the tests because of these kids. I don't want to punish the kids who are actually doing the reading. I hate that I have to spend so much time and energy on the ones who DON'T do what I ask!
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Feb 1, 2007

    I have tuaght English and I encourage my students to use them IN CONJUNCTION with their book; not as a replacment. I think their a good review to sum things up after your read the chapter, but my students know that if they don't read the actual chapter they are not going to do good.
     
  8. Mrs. Toby

    Mrs. Toby Rookie

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    Feb 2, 2007

    I teach 10th grade world history. My students are required to read 5 outside reading books related to world history each calendar year. Last semester they were required to read three books (of their choosing from a list of 50) and summarize them. I caught at least 22 kids who plagiarized from the internet. Some of them copied and pasted right from the web page! I found most of by typing a line or two from thier paper into Google.

    I told my students that if I catch even one student plagiarizing in any one of my 5 classes they would ALL be handwriting the last paper in my classroom. They flipped out so we'll see how it goes.
     
  9. Mrs LC

    Mrs LC Comrade

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    Feb 2, 2007

    You could try insisting on a page reference for every quote or idea from the book - assuming that the online summaries don't have them.

    I confess to looking up my son's novel - I am unhappy with the language in it (Montana 1948 is the novel) and was checking on the general consensus of the book. Interestingly, using the "f" word in a book seems to be okay, but the principal conceded that if my son actually used that language at school he'd be suspended! Not wanting to hijack the thread though, so...

    It might be worth offering bonus marks for anyone who can find an online summary they think is inaccurate. They'd have to know the book well to judge.

    (Edited to change the date of the novel!)
     
  10. daisy04

    daisy04 Rookie

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    Feb 2, 2007

    Good suggestions!

    They'd flip out if I said they could use the book on the test. But then again, it's a long book (400+ pgs), so they'd have to be familiar enough with it to know where to find things. That could be interesting... :)
     
  11. DarthAlan

    DarthAlan Rookie

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    Feb 5, 2007

    I don't consider using SparkNotes and CliffNotes as cheating. It is a form of studying. I'm sure you'd rather have them read those than nothing. It's just human nature to want things fast and easy. Just look at diet pills, language software promising fluency in weeks, and the lottery.

    Also, colleges have nothing against this. They actually encourage students to buy notes from each other.
    You never know, perhaps they did read the book and they are reading the notes too.
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 5, 2007

    Unless you have them read their books entirely during class time, you won't really know. But, asking higher level questions which require analysis would be one gauge of how well they comprehended.
     
  13. daisy04

    daisy04 Rookie

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    Feb 5, 2007

    True...but in this case, I know they didn't. They're not sneaky enough for that. It's a small class, and right now we don't have enough books for all of my classes to take them home, so they have been doing in-class reading.
     
  14. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

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    Feb 6, 2007

    Most kids aren't going to read cliff's AND the book- on their own.
    I would actually get the notes, and give them to the kids - I do in fact.

    I demonstrate how the notes DON'T replace reading the book, hopefully, they will understand that.
    That way, they know I know about them, and I know what's in them and what's not. I use them as a guide for discussing the greater points of the text, but I test their knowledge of things that aren't in the cliff's. Cliff's notes are valuable, and they can help support understanding of texts, so that's what I teach the kids.
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2007

    I know it's frustrating, but as others have said, it's nothing new and some great suggestions have been offered. I really like the idea of allowing the kids to use the novel during a test--they need a good basic knowledge and understanding of it to make it useful.

    :eek: Now for confession time...I wrote an amazing essay in university on James Joyce's Ulysses, a book I haven't read to this day!:eek:
     
  16. DarthAlan

    DarthAlan Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2007

    As long as it's confession time. I can't read, period.
     
  17. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    Feb 7, 2007

    At the college level, we encourage students to use notes and summaries to help them understand the book better.

    Most of the english composition classes follow the same testing method for novels..., normally the exam is an open book(s) exam, no notes, but they are free to tag the book(s), essay questions (some typed, some hand written),...

    If its about the characters or a writing form, then it usually a compare and contrast question between two books. If its a plot question, then it usually involves just one book.

    Also, since the exam is over 2 books, not just one...book summaries do little to help them remember...which one had that again?
     
  18. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    Feb 7, 2007

    Why have them write reports about them? I think book reports have become an outdated format to check for understanding.

    Why not get creative and have them create projects and presentations using some technology for their grades? For research projects, they have topics to research or debate or analyze. Something that makes it impossible to just cut and paste from web pages.
     
  19. kglotfelty

    kglotfelty New Member

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    Feb 8, 2007

    What to do. . . What to do. . .

    You will definitely have to test beyond the basics. I would normally focus on quotations of characters. Who is speaking? To whom is the character speaking? What circumstances surround these words? How are these words significant to the outcome of the book? You can also let them know that they can use the book on their test. In order to be able to use the book effectively on the test, they will have had to have read the book. That may provide some prior motiviation.
     
  20. kavade

    kavade Rookie

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    Feb 8, 2007

    disagree with notes

    When I was in college I used to read Cliff's Notes first, then I would read the assigned text. There were two advantages to this system:

    1) It helped my comprehension of the actual text ( crude plot outline,
    keeping characters straight etc)

    2) It almost always gave me ideas for papers, because after reading the text I could usually find something in the notes that struck me as
    flat out wrong. I always got a kick out of disagreeing with the Ph.D
    responsible for writing the notes.

    The down side was that I didn't get quite as much enjoyment from the text because nothing was a surprise. So, sometimes I did it the other way around and read the text, then the notes.
     

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