The Long Distance Email Race - Part 3: What Is Plagiarism?

Karl Mansfield - Joseph Sims Elementary School

Subject Area: Social Studies/Digital Citizenship
Grade level: 6th Grade

Overview: This lesson introduces the issue of plagiarism in the digital age and is one of several lessons on correct and appropriate citation of a digital resource in the bibliography of a cultural research webquest entitled, The Long Distance Email Race.


  • Students identify and state the requirement to cite all research sources
  • Students identify the bibliography as a necessary and appropriate section of a research project to credit sources of information
  • Students define the word plagiarism
  • Students demonstrate the understanding of the concept of plagiarism through appropriate use of the term during class discussions
  • Students list the basic information needed to complete a bibliographical entry for a citation from an online resource (webpage)


  • If this lesson is used as part of the Long Distance Email Race, then review class progress with students. Elicit recent completed tasks. Field any questions.
  • Explain that the lesson is designed to help students give proper credit to the authors of the online resources they used during topic research
  • Elicit from students the definition and function of a bibliography
  • Present Create a Bibliography. In this presentation, slide-to-slide transitions are intentionally set without timing (allows for discussion and student participation); however, you will find specific slides use timings to pace choral/individual reading of important text. I recommend using these transitions to facilitate student participation via choral/individual reading of written text.
  • Refer to the teacher’s notes at the bottom of each slide which indicate discussion points.
  • It is highly recommended that students be required to read/spell the word plagiarism, as well as reading its definition.
  • When showing slide #3, draw students’ attention to the use and citation of an online resource, You may or may not wish to discuss APA format, in either case, students should come to understand that proper citation is legally required.
  • You will probably want to draw students’ attention to the usage of [ ] around “you’ve borrowed.” Explain the grammatical reason in terms students will understand; for example, “I’ve placed brackets around words I’ve added to the quote. I felt these words helped the sentence make clearer. The brackets indicate my words, not the author’s.”
  • Move through each slide at an appropriate pace.
  • Key terms to be used during lesson:
    • Bibliography
    • Plagiarism
    • Cite/citation/citing
    • Digital Citizen
    • Online resources
    • URL/web address
    • Digital/electronic resource
    • Quotation marks, brackets, ellipses


  • Computer/LCD projector or similar tools to present slide show.
  • The Long Distance Email Race (LDEmR) WebQuest

Lesson Resources:

Student Product:

  • Since this is an introductory lesson, no product is required; however, student participation is directly linked to their ability to properly cite an online resource.



  • Technology Operations: Students use technology and use applications, programs and tools effectively
  • Communication and Collaboration: Students collaborate and publish with peers using various media
  • Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice safe/legal and ethical behavior.
  • Creativity: Students generate products and processes; create original works for personal or group expression
  • Research: Students locate, organize, analyze and evaluate information; select appropriate digital tools, and process data and report results
  • Critical Thinking: Students plan and manage a project to completion; collect and analyze data

Common Core Standards English Language Arts - Social Studies:

  • Key Ideas and Details
    • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    •  Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
    •  Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
    •  Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic

California Content Standards - History-Social Science:

  • 3.1 Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps, tables, graphs, photographs, and charts to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.