Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EMWP Demonstration Lesson: Plagiarism, Emulation, and Originality

For the Eastern Michigan Writing Project summer institute this year, participants created a demonstration lesson in pairs rather than as an individual. At first I was a bit dubious about this idea, thinking that I would prefer to work on my own, but it actually turned out to be a really enjoyable experience. Since my partner Michael and I had completed projects on similar topics in another graduate class we had taken together (his project was on plagiarism, mine was on emulation), we decided to put those two ideas together and create this demonstration on Plagiarism, Emulation, and Originality.

The lesson starts off by looking at the famous William Carlos Williams poem "This is Just to Say" and then asking participants to emulate this poem. We then go into sharing an example of an emulation I came up with -- except I only changed one word from the original Williams poem. Then we shared the next slide in which I've only changed two words, and so on. This leads to a rich discussion about "OK, when is it emulation and when is it plagiarism?"

From there, the discussion moves on to emulation and theft in other art forms such as visual art and music, and then we talk about how having students emulate other writers can help lead them into their own original creations.

It was a pleasure to present with my partner Michael and I hope we have the chance to do it again sometime, either at another EMWP meeting or at a conference.

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