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Back in the days when 3x5 cards were the standard in research tools, the term paper was the core of secondary education. But now it may be facing the same fate as those index cards. Thanks to the Internet's facilitation of plagiarism, more and more high school teachers are cutting back or eliminating required research papers. Anti-cheating software such as TurnItIn.com finds that about one-third of all K-12 and college papers are at least partially plagiarized. Facing those odds, teachers are leaning toward in-class writing exercises and oral presentations to measure student learning. But these assignments tend to be much shorter than term papers and don't require the same depth of thinking, leading some educators to worry that the next generation of students will head to college lacking rigorous writing and research experience. Many teachers who do still assign term papers, such as Janet Groth of Clovis High School, near Fresno, California, now require elaborate documentation of each step of the research process. Others require companion essays explaining how the student accomplished each part of the assignment. "They knew I'd be checking and that they'd have to explain any wording," Groth said. But, she said, "It took forever to grade them."

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Take a look at PaperToolsPro, software to help students write research papers and avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism needs to be addressed at its causes: students are disengaged from their learning and will take shortcuts in order to fulfill the assignment; they do not understand the information they read because of poor reading skills and strategies; they have not developed organizational or metacognitive skills; and they do not document carefully. With PaperToolsPro, students write note cards with descriptors and up to 3 keywords; it provides a textbox for the original passage/quotation and below it a textbox to put the information in the user's own words in order to compare vocabulary and sentence structure to original text and thus avoid plagiarism; it creates bibliographies and citations to each card in MLA, APA, ACS, CBE, AAAS, and Chicago Styles; it helps organize notes with a search query; and bibliographies and notes with citations transfer to an outline or draft. Students do not like to hand write note cards because it is perceived as hard work and the information will be typed into the paper eventually so it meets their needs. Following the directions in the Tutorial, students in the end create a sentence outline with details from notes/citations. Because the sentences become topic sentences, half the rough draft is completed before drafting begins. A fully-functional downloadable demo with the ability to do 10 note cards along with further information can be obtained at www.PaperToolsPro.com. The software can be installed on a PC or Mac computer, a memory stick, or iPod used as an exterior drive.

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