Monday, September 15, 2008

Smart or Cheating?

Students were at their computer working on Study Island, the online learning program. They were doing a session on context clues. When I walked around the room, I noticed that Jacob was using the computer dictionary. Was this cheating? Or, was he the smartest kid in the whole sixth grade?


This S.I. session focused on using the words and sentences around a word students didn't know, to figure out the meaning of the word. Context Clues are hints that the author gives to help define a difficult or unusual word. The clue may be in the same sentence as the word, or it may be in a preceding or subsequent sentence.


This is an example of a context clue:
The difficulty of the assignment forced the student to work hard to complete the tough task. By reading the sentence, you can figure out the meaning of the word difficulty.


Jacob was doing his best to be successful. In no way was he attempting to cheat. His intention was to get the best score possible on Study Island. But, the whole point of learning about context clues is to better reading comprehension by figuring out the meaning of words without using a dictionary. But, as one student said, "if I use the dictionary I am learning the meaning of a lot of words I don't know."


Should a student be punished for using all of the tools available to get the best score? Should all of the students be encouraged to use the dictionary? What about using Text-to-Speech to read words aloud that they don't know. Although Study Island is mostly a tool for assessment and remediation, if students might learn more using these tools, should they be integrated into the daily routine?

Students won't be allowed to use these tools for the Achievement Test, so should they use them every day in class?

Regardless of the decision about the use of these tools during Study Island, good job to Jacob for being creative, and figuring out the best way possible to get a high score.

23 comments:

Head Monkey said...

Tough one, Mr. McGuire! I would be tempted to say, "Do what works for you, kiddo!" However, if the point of the activity is to teach the students a variety of skills to assist with reading comprehension, then I would have him do some additional context clue activities (on paper or on computer). He may find that although the dictionary works, using context clues would be a more efficient use of his time while reading. Or maybe not!

I have the same issue with using assistive technology during the "real world" and not during achievement tests. I decided long ago that the real world overrules achievement tests. When was the last time I had to write a narrative fiction story from a picture prompt and a newspaper article from given data in 2 1/2 hours?? Answer: NEVER (That's what our grade 6s have to do on one of their exams.) Go with your gut, Mr. McGuire. I'm sure you won't regret it! (High five to your resourceful, creative student!)

Dylan T said...

I agree with Head Monkey use what you can to help you because that is what you have to do in the real world.

Brianna H. said...

I think looking up the word in the dictionary is not cheating. Even if you wouldn't get to use it on any of the tests because that student wouldn't need it because they'd know practically the word meanings they'd need to know.

Destiny S. said...

I think that if we use the dictionary it would be called cheating because you are trying to teach how to find what a word means from the text. Yes a dictionary would work to find out what a word means definitely but they need to figure out from the words around them that is the whole purpose of doing
CONTEXT CLUES!!!!!

jacob y. said...

Head monkey really does has a good point and i hope more kids start using the dictionary more often.

emma h. said...

I think students should be allowed to use the dictionary and text to speech. If we use these we can learn what the words mean and how to say them. Some words that are on Study island may be on the achievement test. So if we learn the words now we will have it for later when we need it again.

Makayla B. said...

I think that you should be able to use the dictionary so you can get good grades and memorize the word better.

Gabby L. said...

Good one,no I don't think it's cheating because your reading and learning at the same time. You can learn just by reading. You always have to read to learn, get a job and make a living. So I think it's a smart thing to do. you should always use a dictionary if you don't know what the word means.

Seth R. said...

I don`t think it's cheating because we use
it in class. I would too if it were a
word I did not know. Also because every
grade counts later on in life.
That is if you want a good job in life and to get good money. You will probably need to use a dictionary when your older too.

Cyranda H. said...

I think that if we needed to look up a word in the dictionary. It wouldn't be called cheating because you are just looking up that word to see what it means or to spell it.

corbit .c said...

I think if the teacher does not say no to the dictionary you should use it. If you can not finger it ought so you don't guess. But make sure you get it the next time.

trevor s. said...

I guess it is ok to use the computer dicionary to find out what the defiton means, that way in the future he could remember what that word met so I guess he is smart and not cheating but, if he is using the diconary on the words he has aready done than I would consider that cheating.
Since you can't use the dicionary on the test I guess you should should study and learn now while you can.

Great job Jacob for using your resorces! Once you have studied with dicionary on the Study Island test, try to do the test without it.

heather p. said...

I think he had a smart idea. I also think that we should be aloud to use them because it will help us to learn how to use one. Well no I do not think it is cheating it is a good idea good thinking Jacob.

Christian W said...

I would have to say that using a dictionary for context clues is not cheating, but it is not making your brain think about how to solve most everyday problems. I think that if everybody used a dictionary more people would get a good score but they wouldn't be learning the things that they need to know for the achievement tests. This would be okay if we were allowed to use a dictionary for the achievement test, but we're not. I don't think parents would be very happy when test results come home and most of the questions were missed.

Christian Stewart said...

I agree with Destiny but if the teacher says that it is okay to use the dictionary on some of the questions I would but I wouldn't just use the dictionary 3 times in a row.

Tyler S said...

I thank we should be able to. So when the test comes we should know the word and the definition.

rachael j said...

I would have to agree with Destiny s on this. I think that using a dictionary would be cheating on context clues, because using context clues is what you are supost to do on context clues. Not looking at a dictionary.

Bree said...

I believe that is not cheating because we need a source to learn from or how else would we learn things.

kyndrah t. said...

I agree with Destiny s, that's the whole idea of study island Context clues.If it was for something else it would be OK. If it was something else good thinking Jacob,but on context clues bad Jacob.

Taylor Steele said...

I think students should be able to use dictionary if they need it.Like if someone don't know what something means during a test and the teacher not aloud to tell you.Do you get a bad grade,or do you look it up?

Head Monkey said...

Okay, Ohio Monkeys, how about this one?? I just gave my Canadian Monkeys a vocabulary test today to see where their strengths and weakness are (Gates-MacGinitie). Should I have let them use a dictionary???

Anonymous said...

umm... im not really sure I would say that is smart

Teresa Y. said...

Wow it is really neat to see that everyone has their own opinion on the smart or cheating. I would think if you couldn't figure out what the word ment it would be a good idea to look it up. So I would say SMART!!