California Educator

October/November 2020

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Students are more tempted with distance learning When schools closed abruptly last March due to COVID-19, older students knew that their grades couldn't be lowered, only raised. Nonetheless, many cheated while working from home, even those with passing grades, say teachers. Educators admit they were so overwhelmed with transition- ing to distance learning that it was difficult to police students who were intent on beating the system. Students can Google answers instantly on their phones during exams and watch videos about how to cheat on YouTube. (Some colleges are having students install a second camera on their devices and clearing their workspace, so that instructors can see students' hands during exam time.) Distance learning has created more temp- tations for students, observes Karin Prasad, an English teacher at Heritage High School in Brent- wood. She uses, an online program that compares her students' work with other student essays in the system and also published work. After schools closed due to the pandemic, two essays were red-f lagged in what's called a "similarity report." Normally she would have given both students a zero on the assignment. But Prasad gave them some leeway because of the state of the world. "Being in a pandemic is weird and scary," says the Liberty Education Association member. "So instead of giving them a zero, which I would have done in a normal school year, I gave them th e oppor tunity to resubmit. Students were going through a lot, and I wanted to demon- strate compassion." Martinez also didn't make a big fuss the way she would have under normal circumstances. "I didn't really push the issue. I didn't want to have to contact all of the parents; I have 200 stu- dents in my classes. It was definitely an uphill battle." This year will be different, vows Martinez, whose district will begin the year online. Students will be held accountable for work done from home, and the no-cheating rule will be strictly enforced. How teachers can put the kibosh on cheating "If you can Google the answer to a question, it's not worth asking," says Katie Hollman , a seventh grade math teacher at Walter Stiern Middle School in Bakersfield. "Students imme- diately jump on Google to hunt for answers in class by opening a second tab on their com- puter, so you can just imagine what happens at home on cellphones." Hollman, a member of the Bakersfield Ele- mentary Teachers Association, asks students to explain their work on Flipgrid videos they create. She also has students create their own real-world math word problems, and then solve them. It might involve visiting a restaurant and explaining the bill, deciding how much they want to tip, adding the tax, and figuring out percent- ages, for example. Or going to various grocery stores and comparing the unit rates of various items for sale to discern which is a better bar- gain. Because students are mostly at home, the research for menu and grocery store items hap- pens online, of course. Imperial High School teacher Pedro Quint- anilla can tell if students are cheating on exams while solving math problems with paper and pen- cil, by looking at handwriting when assignments are submitted online. If the work seems too perfect, without pressure points in some spots and nothing crossed out or erased, " I gave them the opportunity to resubmit. Students were going through a lot, and I wanted to demonstrate compassion." — KARIN PRASAD, Liberty Education Association Joline Martinez Karin Prasad Katie Hollman 49 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0

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