YCteen publishes true stories by teens, giving readers insight into the issues that matter most in young people's lives.
What's New
Email Newsletter icon
Write for Youth Communication: Video
Behind the Scenes: Teen writers describe what it's like to work at YCteen.
Follow us on:
Share Youth Communication Follow YCteen on Facebook Follow YCteen on YouTube Follow YCteen on Twitter
Follow YCteen on Facebook Follow YCteen on YouTube Follow YCteen on Twitter
Teacher Lesson Return to "Cheater to Tutor"
Cheater to Tutor
horizontal rule
English/Language Arts Lesson: Cheater to Tutor

Writing, Reading Comprehension, and Discussion

• Students will read a story and examine the concepts of morality and ethics.
• Students will write thoughtfully about personal experiences in order to persuade their peers.
• Students will practice public speaking as they engage in a Socratic Seminar, discussing the ethics and cheating in today’s society.

• Reluctant
• Compensate
• Isolate
• Plummet
• Disconcerting
• Dilemma

Before the Activity:
Ask students if they know the terms “morality” and “ethics,” and define them for the class.

Tell students to spend a few minutes responding to the following question in their notes: “Was there ever a situation that tempted you to be immoral or to make a decision that went against your personal code of ethics? What did you do? How did you feel about it?”

Activity 1: Read the Story
Ask students to read the story independently.

Instruct them to mark points in the story where the author does something that might be unethical. They should ask themselves the following questions:
• Why did the author make this choice?
• Do I believe it is justified?
• What might have been a different way of handling this situation?

Activity 2: Discuss the Story
Allow students to share their responses from the questions posed at the beginning of class.

Ask volunteers to share the passages they marked while reading the story and share their responses to the prompts above.

Ask students, “What motivates us to do things that we know are wrong?” You might want to prompt them with ideas like health, friendship or money.

Activity 3: Socratic Seminar/Discussion Circle
Arrange the students in a large circle and tell them that, using the story they just read as well as their own opinions and experiences, they will discuss an important question related to the story.

Pass out the Discussion Circle sheet and read both sides aloud to students.

Next, read aloud the sheet explaining the observers’ role and ask for volunteers to be the observers.

Ask them, “As cheating becomes more prevalent in high schools across the country, what or who do you believe is to blame, and what are the impacts?” Write this central question on the board so that you can redirect students who wander too far off the topic.

Following the directions on the Discussion Circle sheet, have students go in order around the circle, responding to the text and to one another, as per the instructions.

Try to intervene only if students are struggling with how to engage in the dialogue, or if the discussion needs to be refocused, or if students become disruptive. If this is the first time you are attempting this type of Socratic Seminar, students may need more reinforcement of the procedures and rules at the beginning. Engage the observers in this role as much as possible so that the discussion remains student-focused.

At the end of the discussion, leave time for the observers to fill out the Observer Evaluation form and report back to the group, as well as for the discussion participants to complete the Participant Self-Evaluation form.

Discussion Circle

Today we’re going to have a group discussion about the story we just read. What’s different about this discussion is the way it’s set up, and the way we respond to one another. This is a very focused way of having a discussion.

After we read the story, I’m going to pose a question to the group that relates to the story. During the discussion, two people will sit outside the group. They are the observers, and their job is to report back to the group in the middle and at the end of the discussion about the group’s interactions, and things they heard that interested them.

Here are the ground rules for the discussion:

1. We’ll always go around the circle in order. When it’s your turn, you must make a statement or ask a question related to the text, the question I posed, or something a classmate has said or asked. As much as possible, you should back up your statement or question with evidence or examples directly from the story.
2. It’s good to build on something that someone else says, so it’s helpful to take notes when you hear something that you think is important.
3. Keep your statements focused. Back up what you say with reasons and evidence, but try not to go on for too long, and don’t go off the subject.
4. Silence is okay – it means someone is thinking before speaking! If you need time to think before you respond, take that time.
5. No put-downs. It’s OK to disagree with someone else’s statement, but this is not a debate. We’re not trying to discard ideas by out-arguing each other. Our aim is to get as much of everyone’s contribution into the mix as possible. This is a team effort, and the goal is to have as thoughtful and productive a conversation as possible. Now let’s talk about some constructive, helpful ways of starting your statement/question/response.

Discussion Circle (continued from previous page)

Possible ways to start your response:

I think that…

What I noticed is….

I think ____ is important because….

What I think I’m hearing is….

What I haven’t heard anyone saying yet is….

I agree because….
My belief is different. I think….

What you’re saying makes sense to me because….
I don’t quite understand what you’re saying.

I’d like to make a suggestion….

I feel confused about ______ because….

I think I understand what _____ is saying, but I’m not sure. Are you saying that….

I’d like to ask a question:

Discussion Circle—Participant Evaluation

What were the highlights of the discussion? At what points did the discussion really move forward?

At what point did the discussion lapse into debate or become unfocused? How did the group handle this?

How has your understanding of this theme been affected by the ideas explored in this seminar?

If you changed any of your opinions during the discussion, what changed them?

What would you do differently as a participant the next time?

Discussion Circle—Observer Feedback

The observers play an important role in this discussion, even though they won’t speak until the end. Their job is to monitor how productive the discussion was, and make suggestions for doing even better the next time. Observers, please answer the following questions and be prepared to share your responses with the class.

What points were made during the discussion that stand out as important to you?

Did people remember to give examples/make references to the reading during the discussion?

On a scale of 1-5, how focused was the discussion? (1 being most focused, 5 being least)

Did you see evidence that people were listening carefully to each others’ ideas and building on others’ ideas? Give some examples.

Was anything not covered that you think should have been?

Aligned with Common Core Standards for English Language Arts 9-12

Common Core Standards for Reading:
Key Ideas and Details
RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says.
RI.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
RI.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
Craft and Structure
RI.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
RI.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
RI.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Common Core Standards for Writing:
Text Types and Purposes
W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Production and Distribution of Writing
W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Range of Writing
W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration
SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Anchor Standards for Language:
Conventions of Standard English
L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
L.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
horizontal rule
[Other Teacher Resources]

For Teens
Visit Our Online Store