Using the EasyBib Notebook to Teach Paraphrasing

Mary Beth Hertz is a certified Instructional Technology Specialist and K-7 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA. She has presented at a number of conferences and is a blogger and avid user of social media. She is also a co-organizer of Edcamp Philly and sits on the Edcamp Foundation Board. She was also named an ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010. She is passionate about making school meaningful and about all things edtech.


One of the most common problems that teachers report when facilitating research projects with their students is that students often copy directly from websites without quoting the author or by handing in work that comes directly from a source, word for word.

It is imperative that we explicitly teach our students how to paraphrase the information they find and how to differentiate between paraphrasing and direct quotations. The Internet has made everything seem easy and free for the taking. There are so many sources out there, that knowing whether a student has plagiarized has become so difficult that teachers have to use special tools like TurnItIn to make sure that student writing is their own. There are other reasons aside from academic honesty to make sure that young people know how to synthesize ideas into their own words. As more and more information is put out on the Internet, more and more of our students are creators of this content. They are the future keepers of ideas and knowledge, so we must teach them to be responsible creators and consumers of content.

One thing I’m excited to use with my students to teach these skills is EasyBib’s Notebook. Each time my students add a new note, they have the option to directly quote the resource, paraphrase some of the information they want to use from a resource, or to write their own thoughts on the information. In the copy/paste world we live in, the Notebook allows my students to visualize the difference between copying information word-for-word and putting information in your own words. This tool will also give my students a chance to compare the three ways of thinking about the information they are reading. It will also help them digest the information by forcing them to separate the author’s ideas, their interpretation of the author’s ideas and to find the author’s words that support their own opinions.

Before introducing my students to the Notebook, however, I will need to break the process down, allowing my students to practice paraphrasing as a class and on their own. Even as an adult, paraphrasing is difficult, so I don’t expect them to ‘get it’ the first time. However, I am thrilled to have the Notebook tool to make teaching the differences between paraphrasing and taking direct quotations from the resources my students use.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    This is a great idea. I haven’t thought about specifically teaching the skill of paraphrasing before, but I sure need to.

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