February 6, 2010

Young Writing Criminals

Sometimes I think the Lord has me teaching writing classes just to keep my humor level high. The kids certainly tickle my funny bone. Recently, I experienced a bit of humor mixed with a tremendous display of integrity that I thought you might enjoy.

This week I taught my fifth and sixth graders about plagiarism. I should have done it last week when they learned how to research and write reports, but I forgot. As I listened to them read their reports aloud this week it was like listening to multiple volumes of the encyclopedia and I was reminded of the error of my ways.

So, we had a stringent lesson on plagiarism in all its various forms and how to avoid it. Their eyes swelled to giant saucers when I told them it was against the law. And they bulged out of their heads when I informed them that I could easily spot it in their writing, so writer beware.

After class a precious girl came to me. “Mrs. Lillie,” she whispered weakly, “I need to talk to you.”

”Yes?” I said.

“Mrs. Lillie, I broke the law.”

”Really?” I asked with great surprise. “What did you do?”

With tears starting to brim she said, “I plagiarized.”

”In your report?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

”Let me ask you a question. Last week when you wrote your report had you ever heard about plagiarism?” I asked.

She shook her head no.

”And were you aware that you could go to jail for copying someone else’s work?”

Another no.

“Then I suppose we can’t really hold it against you, can we? Especially when your writing teacher failed to inform you.”

She looked relieved, “Does this mean I’m not going to jail?”

”Well, given the circumstances, I won’t press charges this time. But now you know the law so no more plagiarism, you understand?”

”Yes, ma’am.”

She turned to leave and then turned back. “Mrs. Lillie?”


”I love you.”

”I love you, too.”



Kim said...

God bless her tender, young heart. She is precious.

Sue J. said...

And if they all did their research at Wikipedia, they have the problem of plagiarizing potentially inaccurate information!

It reminds me of the story of those who were healed, yet only one turned back to offer thanksgiving. Embracing this lesson early on will carry her through in other similar circumstances far-removed from writing.

Miss Sandy said...


Stacey said...

That actually is a great way to teach them...way more effective that way! They will always remember it!

Bless you,

Nichole said...

aww that is adorable!

Kristen Myers said...

I've always wondered how to implement grace-based teaching and parenting.

I think you just taught me how!

Thank you Mrs. Lillie.

Julie said...

Oh....I'm sure I would have loved you too if you had been my teacher at that age. So sweet..

My ADHD Me said...

Aawwww...That is SO sweet!

Cassandra Frear said...


There is hope for us all.

Linda said...

Those are the moments that must make it all worthwhile. What a precious girl. What a wise teacher.

Sridhar said...

Such a sweet story. I can't wait to share this with my all my friends.