Playing Around with PowToons

I recently spent some time playing around with this great new movie / slideshow maker, PowToons. Here’s my first attempt at awesomeness:


Lesson Plan:


  • Students will create a student account on
  • Students will review our library’s Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and re-learn how to access eBooks via InfoBase and databases, familiarizing themselves with the passwords in the process.
  • Students will learn to enrol in a class site on Turnitin and to submit assignments to a dropbox.
  • Students will learn essential self advocacy skills when dealing with Turnitin dropbox settings.


  • An effective communicator who presents information and ideas clearly and honestly with sensitively to others.
  • A collaborative contributor who respects the rights, responsibilities and contributions of self and others.

MINDS’ ON: Students are asked to go to and create an account. Students are reminded NOT to select account re-set questions that are overly personal. For example, they are not to provide their SIN or their mother’s maiden name as password reset questions. Both these questions are options.

ACTION: Students are to write a paragraph on a predetermined question, created in collaboration with the classroom teacher, usually dealing with their novel or drama study. They are to access secondary sources, literary criticism and/or academic journals through our library’s eBooks provider, InfoBase or our databases accessible through OPAC. They are asked to deliberately plagiarize sections and submit their “test paragraphs” via the Turnitin dropbox created by their classroom teacher.

CONSOLODATION: Students will review and compare the results of Turnitin’s “Authenticity Check.” They will learn to ask specific questions of their current teacher and of their future professors; questions like:

  1. Is it possible for me to see the results of the authenticity check?
  2. Is it possible for me to make corrections and re-submit my assignment based on the results of the authenticity check?
  3. Will you be including content included in quotation marks as well as content not included in quotation marks in the authenticity report?
  4. What constitutes “small matches” in your Turnitin dropbox?

A key learning for students and teachers will be that the use of Turnitin’s “Authenticity Check” in our secondary school setting will be for learning more about what constitutes as plagiarism. Applying Turnitin on any blended learning dropbox is not intended to be punitive. Turnitin can be a wonderful teaching tool for secondary students if it is used correctly.

Lesson Plan: Workplace Plagiarism


  • Students will understand the evolving meaning of plagiarism and be able to provide examples of it. New terms/concepts: collusion vs. collaboration; Creative Commons; open-source.
  • Students will be able to see the real world consequences of plagiarism in the workplace.
  • Students will be able to identify motivators for plagiarism and suggest ways to limit their own risk, temptation to plagiarize.
  • Students will practice using digital presentation tools to enhance their oral communication development.


  • An effective communicator who speaks, writes, and listens honestly and sensitively, responding critically in light of gospel values.
  • A collaborative contributor who respects the rights, responsibilities and contributions of self and others.

MINDS’ ON: Students are to complete the following Minds’ On Survey. Results will be projected and a brief overview of each question’s correct response will follow with opportunities for student feedback, discussion.

Screenshot (20)

The Minds’ On activity is created and shared through Office 365’s Survey feature. Students can view peer responses on the screen as classmates complete the survey.

ACTION:  In groups, students will review one of the following news articles dealing with workplace instances of plagiarism (most are from Ontario).

Their understanding of the article will be guided by the following three questions. Answers to these questions should be presented using a modern web 2.0 communication tool (PowToon, Prezi, PowerPoint, iMovie, MovieMaker, Sway, etc.)  to the class after approximately 25 min of in class preparation:

  1. What is the individual accused of plagiarizing? Be specific.
  2. What do you think motivated the individual to plagiarize? The article may not give specific reasons so, feel free to speculate. Suggest at least three motivations for the plagiarism.
  3. What were the consequences of the plagiarism?

CONSOLODATION: In an informal class discussion, ask students to reflect on commonalities in each of the case studies.

  • Did any of these individuals think that they would get caught?
  • What were some common motivators: stress; time crunch; pressure to preform? Are these similar to student experiences when tempted to plagiarize?

ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING: ask each group: How many student groups actually cited the article in their creative presentation of the probing questions? If they did not, then there’s still room for more consideration of this issue.

NEXT LESSON: Learning more about Students will create a student account and submit an intentionally plagiarized test paragraph in the authenticity checker.

REFLECTION: I am always surprised at how often students do not cite the article in their presentations of the workplace plagiarism case studies. Even after considerable time is spend reviewing the importance of academic integrity and the serious consequences that can result, the informal nature of our learning seems to trump the required formal citation. Is my assessment for student learning in this lesson flawed?

Our Curriculum and Our Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations

The uniqueness of our Catholic curriculum is evidenced in our incorporation of our province’s Catholic Graduate Expectations into our learning goals. While many of these expectations are shared by the secular school system (effective communication; creative thinking; self-directed learning, collaboration and citizenship) our Catholic curriculum goes farther in that we also specifically celebrate the value in being a caring family member and a child of God. Certainly the uniqueness of our English curriculum lies in specifically demonstrating to learners the value in living in communion with our immediate and extended families and in seeking communion with God.

Our focus on these two graduate expectations (individual’s relationship with their family/community and with God) are simply addressed in the English curriculum through the regular incorporation of open-ended response opportunities, usually by way of the Minds’ On portion of the English lesson. Open-ended response activities that invite learners to share their thoughts and to actively listen to their peers, provide the necessary space for learners to be able to reflect and to understand their connection to each other and, by extension, to their family and their God.

While providing learners with open-ended response opportunities serves to move lessons forward, push students deeper into the topic, settle their minds and to access their prior knowledge, schema, these activities also imply a collaborative and creative response to a given text. The combined effect is to humanize the learning by providing space for moments of insight which are often generated by peers who are relying on and drawing from their own out-of-school lives to enrich their learning. In this way, the subject matter of our English courses can become a wonderful pretext for creating opportunities to connect with classmates, which can greatly influence how we teach learners to connect with their community, their families and with God.