California Educator

October/November 2020

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Honestly, Kids, Ask for Help How to avoid online cheating and encourage learning instead By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin O L I N E M A R T I N E Z S U S P E C T E D many of her students were cheating after her school closed last spring and she transitioned to distance learning. ey showed their work on equations and came up with the correct answers, but something was definitely off, says the Yosemite High School math teacher. "My students were solving problems with ridiculous frac- tions," says Martinez, a member of Yosemite Unified Teachers Association. "ey were using steps they had never been taught. It was a huge issue. I suspected they were cheating. I was losing sleep over this." Martinez was so frustrated, she posted about it on CTA's " Teaching, Learning and Life During COVID-19" Facebook page, and found she was not alone. Numerous CTA members responded to her post, saying they also suspected students were cheating while working from home. One of them, Maggie Strode, was troubled that students who were struggling when attending school on campus were suddenly turning in perfect papers during distance learning. "Students were combining several steps into one while solving equations, and always moved the variable to the left side of the equation," says Strode, a math teacher at South Hills High School and member of the Covina Unified Education Association. "It's something I do not have my students do, because when they are doing the equations on their own, it leads to errors." During online office hours she asked them to solve similar problems, and they didn't have a clue. Both teachers figured out their students were using Pho- tomath, an app that utilizes a cellphone's camera to recognize mathematical equations and display a step-by-step solution onscreen — which may differ from how students were taught. "It's frustrating," says Strode. "I was creating videos showing students how to do the work, but they weren't watching them. Instead, they used this app. It's much easier to keep an eye on students when you have them in your classroom. When they work from home, it is much more challenging." J 48 Teaching & Learning

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