I just gave two students a zero on their final paper worth 20% of their grade.

Why?  Why else: plagiarsim.

This is my first year of teaching, so I know that ugly little guy will continue to pop up in my life, but I find myself saddened by this.  One student plagiarized 95% of his/her paper.  The other about 80% (though I think more is plagiarized I just can’t find it).  At first, I kept trying to excuse it.  They didn’t understand the difference between paraphrase and plagiarize–I mean, we only went over it multiple times.  Surely, there’s some excuse.

But, there’s really not.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this isn’t one paragraph.  This is MULTIPLE pages in a ten page paper.  Sentences upon sentences.  Words I know these students couldn’t even define if they tried.  And, it’s really sad.  I can’t even be angry, because in the end–they lowered their grade 20%.  I’ll likely hear from the counselor and their parents that I’m not being fair.  In the end, excuses will be made for these girls and I will be the bad guy.

Of course, this makes me question myself.  How many other papers have I missed over the course of the semester?  Was this a one time thing–or something they thought they could get away with because they have.  If it was one, I think I could write it off.  But two–right in a row–it makes me question a lot.