Plagiarism Lesson


  • Students will understand the definition of plagiarism with a focus on the use of online resources
  • Students will understand and be able to share how and when they can use the works of others
  • Students will practice summarizing main idea and details
  • Students will practice referencing online works

Grade level: 5-7

Time Span – plan to space the lessons out over a week or so

Materials needed:

  • Access to the internet on a computer and/or big screen
  • Printables (graphic organizers)

Have students watch the YouTube video on plagiarism

Use the vocabulary development graphic organizer to define the word plagiarism – know that information can be added to this visual organizer as the student’s understanding of the concept grows through the week

Class discussion about cheating and using someone else’s work as your own  (A-B partners: brainstorm as many reasons why cheating and deception is wrong)

  • Develop a list of scenarios where a student might be caught cheating in some capacity and invite students to work in groups of 2 or 3 to role play the consequences (go beyond copying work i.e. into cheating in sport to win, stealing money, etc.)
  • Focus on the underlying values of honesty and trust that are broken and the damage this does to the self and relationships with others

View Urban Legends Quiz.  

Talk about critical thinking when viewing information and images on-line.  Discuss all the potential places where plagiarism could occur (i.e. books, newspapers, magazines, etc)

Critical thinking also involves picking out the key words and the supporting details and facts to develop your own thoughts and writing.  Use a graphic organizer from Education Oasis to practice pulling important information, main idea and details, from online material.  Use websites suited to a topic you are studying in preparation for later writing.

Using the amazing, well-planned and scaffolded lesson plan from Common Sense Media explore “How to Cite a Cite” with your class and be blown away by excellent organization, and structure of this lesson plan.  Also search the site for other well developed and useful lessons to reinforce plagiarism (i.e. “Whose is it, anyway?”)

Have students continue adding to and adjusting their working definition of plagiarism through the lessons.  

Generate with students a hard copy (poster and/or personal copy) of how to properly reference online resources and post in class for future use and practice.


Theodor RichardsonOwn Your Education – Plagiarism and Cheating” Online Video Clip, YouTube. Uploaded on Mar 29, 2010.  Accessed on November 1, 2016.

3 Comments on Plagiarism Lesson – Elementary focus

  1. Nic says:

    On the topic of plagiarism and referencing – can someone please tell me if a website is linked in a blog post do we need to reference and cite it? You’d think I’d have figured that out by now… Thanks for your help! Nic

  2. lkondos says:

    Hi Nic,
    I was wondering just the same the other day. Figured it is best to reference it anyway.

    When I mention plagiarism to my grade 9s, I get the most exquisite frowns. Must be difficult to teach it to elementary students. I think you are presenting a wonderful chance for students to get into the concept, and have some understanding of what it means, even though they will not be writing a serious academic piece yet. I must say, I enjoyed your Urban Legend Quiz. (I adore spiders, will catch them or carefully shoo them out … but that guy on that wall … if he were real …) It is a fun way of getting them to think about the idea of what is fake or not, and since plagiarism might not be such a problem for them yet, why not have some fun!

    • lkondos says:

      I just viewed your YouTube video. Of course, elementary students will be expected to do projects. Copy and paste! That is a problem anywhere. Have you ever seen those “copy and paste” efforts where the text still shows the background of the page they copied from?

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