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Table of Contents

I.                 Student/Teacher Expectations

II.               Plagiarism

III.              Computer Use

IV.              Grammar

V.               Accelerated Reading

VI.              Essay Question Criteria

VII.            Research Paper Criteria

1.      Understanding the Assignment

2.      Choosing a Good Topic

3.      Preparing a working bibliography

4.      Evaluating Sources

5.      Taking Notes

6.      Creating an Outline

7.      Documenting Work

8.      Writing a Rough Draft

9.      Editing a Rough Draft

10.   Writing the Final Paper

11.   School Approved Web sites

VIII.          Cross-Curricular Projects


Student/Teacher Expectations

Teacher Expectations:

All teachers can expect the following from the students:

1.  Respect – Be respectful of yourself, your environment, your classmates, and your teachers.

2.  Responsibility – Recognize your own role in the education process.  It is ultimately your responsibility to maintain a good work ethic that will help you succeed.  Challenge yourself to be productive.  Use your time wisely.  Understand there will be consequences, both good and bad, for your actions.

3.   All written work will be completed to the best of the student’s ability using correct grammar and mechanics.  The written work will be neat and organized.

4.  All students will be required to follow the writing and research guidelines set forth in this handbook.  Plagiarism will not be accepted nor tolerated. 

5.  Due to the increased use of technology in our classes, all students should have access to computers and printers at home.  If a student does not have a computer and/or printer, the teacher should be informed before the due date of an assignment.  Computer time at school will be provided.

Student Expectations:

All students can expect the following from their teachers:

1.   Curriculum, instruction, and assessment that is engaging and purposeful and meets the needs of all.

2.  Fair assessment using a variety of methods including but not limited to self-assessment, peer-assessment, and teacher-assessment as well as standardized approaches.

3.  Impartiality – all students will be treated fairly and given every opportunity to succeed.




The faculty at Oak Forest Academy is committed to teaching students how to become ethical users of information and ideas.  It is our responsibility not only to educate students in the research process and mechanics of writing and proper documentation, but also to hold these students accountable for honest work.  Whether an assigned project is in a visual, written, or spoken format, students are expected to accurately reference all sources of information consulted for the project.  Plagiarism is regarded as a serious offense and will not be tolerated by Oak Forest Academy or any other institution of higher learning.  It is an expectation that all departments and students adhere to and enforce this policy.

Definition of Plagiarism

1) Plagiarism by definition is the copying of another person’s work or ideas, whether intentional or not, in whole or part, from a print or non-print source, and using those ideas or works as one’s own such as homework and class work. 

2) Plagiarism is also defined as the deliberate and/or consistent lack of proper documentation and citation in the project or paper.

3) Lastly, it is defined by in-text documentation that is not reflected in the Works Cited page.

Teacher Responsibilities

Oak Forest Academy junior high and high school teachers are to provide the following at the beginning of the paper or project:

·        An assignment sheet with detailed instructions;

·        A rubric outlining assessment at all points of the process and for the final product;

·        Clear guidelines regarding acceptable amounts of help from peers and other adults.

In addition, teachers are responsible for:

·        Providing a short lesson for the location, evaluation, and acceptable sites used for information.

·        In addition to that lesson, all teachers must cover steps to the research process in particular to the parts of that process that teachers are concerned with.

·        Assisting students in how to manage time and deadlines throughout the research process;

·        Conferencing with students on formatting and composing the project or paper.

Student Responsibilities

·        Submit authentic work;

·        Follow the project instructions and deadlines assigned by the teacher;

·        Ask questions and seek help from appropriate persons (teachers or leaders in a field)

·        Follow the Oak Forest Academy Research and MLA Style Guide;

·        Cite in-text or in-project sources correctly and accurately;

·        Format Works Cited pages correctly and accurately.

Plagiarism Violations

If a teacher has sufficient reason to believe that a student has plagiarized, the teacher must determine the level of plagiarism according to the criteria below.  A committee comprised of the principal, dean of discipline, and the teacher involved then has the option to meet to determine what actions will be taken.

Degrees of Plagiarism

I.                 A first-degree violation may occur due to ignorance or inexperience on the part of the student.  An example of plagiarism at this level may involve a student’s using a paragraph or a few lines of text without citing the material properly.  However, most of the paper is the student’s own work.


Recommended procedures for first-degree violations are outlined below.

1.      A chance to make-up the original assignment.

2.      A one letter grade reduction on the original assignment which will be the same for all teachers.


II.               A second-degree violation is considered a more serious plagiarism offense.  Examples of this violation include the use of one or more paragraphs of another’s ideas and/or works without correct citation.   Incorrect citation may often take the form of improper paraphrasing.  Although some of the work is the student’s, it is evident that much of the work has been taken from other sources and not referenced.  This includes copying another student’s homework/classwork or allowing your homework/classwork to be copied.


Recommended procedures for second-degree violations are outlined below.

1.      A grade of 0 on the assignment.

2.      A letter in the student’s academic file detailing the offense.

3.      Notification to the parent and in-school suspension for 1 day.


III.              A third degree violation is a severe case of plagiarism and indicates the majority of a student’s work has been taken from another source or sources and not referenced.  An example may be the use of a purchased term paper or other materials as one’s own.  Also this violation may involve improperly acquiring information and / or intentionally altering it, i.e. citing sources that are not actually sources.  In addition, a third degree violation occurs when a student has been found guilty of plagiarism in a prior instance or has been found cheating on a test or quiz.


Recommended procedures for third degree violations are outlined below.

1.      A grade of 0 on the assignment.

2.      A letter in the student’s academic file detailing the offense.

3.      Notification to the parents.

4.      A reduction in overall course grade for the nine weeks by 10 percentage points.

Special Note: Any repeat of Degree 3 in the same school year will result in out-of-school suspension for five days.


Computer Use

Computers are expensive and fragile.  In order to maintain the equipment and an

excellent learning environment we need to establish guidelines for behavior when using the computers in the labs and classrooms.  By signing the attached form students and parents/guardians agree to adhere to the rules.  A violation of any rule on the list will result in consequences to be determined by the teacher.


 Read this list of rules carefully

All students are held responsible for knowing and understanding the rules. Your signature on the attached sheet is a promise to obey the rules. Observance of the rules insures that all students are responsible users of this wonderful tool, the computer!  If there is a violation of any of the rules, there will be consequences (to be determined by the individual teachers).


  1. Students are not permitted in any computer lab unless directly supervised by a teacher.
  2. No gum, food or drinks in the lab, electronic equipment doesn’t like to get wet or sticky. Accidents do happen even to the careful students.
  3. Never touch another student’s computer. If you are helping another student guide them by using words, don’t touch their mouse, keyboard or computer.
  4. Only use the Internet as instructed. You may not use school computers to write or receive e-mail messages, use chat rooms, update or respond to non-school related blogs or surf the Internet. Do not click on links that seem suspicious or are offers of “free” anything.
  5. Do not use the mouse or keyboard as a toy. This means do not randomly click on the mouse or hit the keys on the keyboard without a purpose.
  6. Do not change computer preference settings or endeavor to “hack” into unauthorized areas.
  7. Always use print preview before you print. Make sure that your heading is on all documents.  Do not print without permission.  All students cannot print at the same time.
  8. When you are finished with the computer,  you should follow these procedures:
    1. Exit any programs you are using. The login screen should be showing on the desktop.

b.     Straighten your work area and retrieve your books.

c.      Stand by your computer, push in your chair.



Student’s Signature _____________________________ Date______

Parent or Guardian’s Signature _____________________ Date______





Students will be held accountable for the following writing conventions in all classes:  mechanics, development, organization, focus, and language use.  Point deductions for writing errors will be at the teacher’s discretion. 


Accelerated Reading

Students in seventh through twelfth grade English/Reading classes will participate in the Accelerated Reader Program.   This program will provide the independent reading practice necessary to develop comprehension, vocabulary and basic reading skills.


Writing Expectations

(Applicable to ALL English and social studies courses offered at OFA!)

Essay Question Criteria

All answers written in essay form must include the following:


1.     Restate (The writer states the question that is asked.)

2.     Thesis Statement (The writer states an opinion if asked for and a factual answer if no opinion is asked for.)

3.     Quote/Example (The writer gives an example of what he/she is talking about.  Examples could include a quote, example, anecdote, or in-text citation.)

4.     Explanation (The writer explains the use of the quote or example as proof of the thesis/answer.)

5.     Conclusion (The writer sums up the answer and refers back to the question asked and the thesis.)


Rationale Question:

Why and in what way do we create uniform expectations for writing short essay answers in all subjects?


Rationale Answer:

This would be in paragraph form, but it is separated to clearly see the parts…


            (restate) There is a need to create uniform expectations for writing short essay answers in all subjects.

            (thesis) Although we will allow for individual expressions of voice, students need to learn the precision and thoroughness required for scholarly writing, which teachers can enforce through solidarity.

            (example/quote) One way to help all teachers expect consistent writing is to insist upon a short answer template such as the one presented here.

            (explanation) This template asks that writers show their understanding of the question and that they can assert a fact or opinion about the thesis.  The example or quote is required to help the writer prove the validity of the answer through textual evidence and citation.  Also, an explanation ensures that writers make connections between thesis and reasoning while keeping their sources in mind.

            (conclusion/summary) If writers understand that teachers hold these expectations, student writing, while having individuality, will begin to show academic precision and an ability to think and communicate critically about their school subjects.



Research Paper Criteria

Adapted from Williams Valley Junior Senior High School and the Sayre School

This is a general guide to help you complete a research paper.  Your teacher may assign slightly different ways to accomplish the steps in the research process.  Your teacher may or may not require you to hand in information relating to each step.

I.                 Understanding the Assignment

A.     Answer the questions in the section below in order to make sure you understand the assignment.

1.      What is the general topic of the assignment?

2.      How many sources will I need?

3.      What is the final product (paper, poster, oral reports, etc.)?

4.      Is there a set length to the project?  If so, what is it?

5.      When is each component of my assignment due?

II.               Choosing a good topic

A.     Ask yourself the following questions:

1.      Is this topic PERTINENT?

2.      Is it RICH? (Can you find enough information on it)?

3.      Is it NARROW ENOUGH for the assignment?

III.              Prepare a working bibliography

A.     This is a list of sources that you MAY use in your final paper.  It is a way to make sure that you will be able to find enough information for your paper.  You may not end up using all of the sources, but it is better to have too many than not enough.  Along the way you may find other sources that are relevant; this is OK, just add them to your bibliography.

B.     Where to find needed information for bibliographies:

1.      Book – the title, author, publication city and publisher are usually on the title page.  The copyright date is usually on the back of the title page.

2.      Encyclopedia – if there is an author of the article it will be on the first page of the article or at the end of the article.  Some encyclopedia articles have no listed author.  You also need the title of the article and encyclopedia and the most current copyright date of the encyclopedia, found on the back of the title page.

3.      Newspaper and magazine articles – you need the author and title of the article, date of the newspaper/magazine and page(s) the article appeared on. For MLA citations you need the city and state of publication for newspapers.

4.      Scholarly journals – title of article and journal, author, date and pages of article, and volume and issue number are all needed.  Most volume and issue numbers can be found on the title page of the journal.

5.      On-line encyclopedia – author and title of article, title, owner and subscriber of encyclopedia, date visited, and full Internet address is needed.

6.      Web-site – author and title of page, date page created or updated.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find an author or date of last update.

7.      Personal Interview or speech – You will need the name of the interviewee, location of the interview, and the date of the interview.

IV.              Evaluating sources

A.     Gather your sources and then consider the following questions:

1.      Authority – Who wrote the material?  Are they an expert in this field or just some person who decided to write something on the topic?  Can you find out information about the author?  This is especially critical when evaluating Internet sources.  Just because it is on the Internet does not mean that the author is an expert.

2.      Accuracy – Is the information true? Do your other sources have similar information?  When using Internet sources, you need to remember that anyone can put anything they want on the Internet.  Just because it appears in print (book, internet, magazine article) does not mean it is true.

3.      Currency – How current is the book, article, or Internet site?

B.     Wikipedia is not a valid source!

V.               Taking notes (note cards)

A.     A note card is simply an index card on which you write information from your sources.  They contain the information you might include in your written or oral report.

B.     There are four kinds of note cards.

        1. Source Cards

        2. Quotation Cards

        3. Paraphrase Cards

        4. Combination Cards (or Summary) Cards

VI.              Creating an Outline

A.     Your outline should be based on the notes that you have taken.  At this point it is still a working outline; after writing it you may realize that you are missing critical information in certain sections.  If so, go back and take more notes from the same or different sources.  Once your outline feels solid, you are ready to begin writing.

B.     Your outline should follow standard outlining format.  If you have a Roman numeral I, you need a II.  If you have an A, you need a B, etc.

VII.            Documenting work

A.     You “document” your work when you acknowledge and give credit for ideas or information you have borrowed and used in your paper.

B.     Document whenever you:

1.      use an original idea from one of your sources, whether you quote or paraphrase it

2.      summarize original ideas from one of your sources

3.      use factual information that is not common knowledge (common knowledge is information that recurs in many sources)

4.      quote directly from a source

C.     Provide documentation for your reader in two places:

1.      at the end of your paper (works cited page)

2.      within the body of your paper (in-text documentation)

D.     Writing a works cited page

1.      Use correct MLA style. (specific instructions found on school Web site)

2.      Center the words “Works Cited” at the top of the page, then list all the sources used in your paper, in alphabetical order, by the author’s last name.


VIII.          Writing a rough draft

A.     Good notes and a solid outline will make writing a rough draft easy.  Just follow your outline and fill in specific information from your notes.

B.     Have a solid thesis statement, an introduction, body and conclusion.

C.     When you must include direct quotations, be sure to cite them in the paper using a parenthetical citation or footnote. They are also needed when you paraphrase, when you include ideas that are highly opinionated or controversial and for facts that are not widely known.

D.     Include a works cited page.

E.      Proofread the rough draft.

IX.              Editing the rough draft

A.     Make all of the revisions requested by your teacher. You may need to return to your sources to conduct more research.

X.                Writing the final paper

A.     If no specific guidelines are given, the standard typed format is: Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced, 1 inch margins.

B.     Have a parent or teacher proofread the paper

C.     Make all needed corrections, make sure your works cited page is correct and complete (including crediting any images you may have used on your title page) and turn the paper in on time!

XI.              School Approved Web sites

A.     A complete list of approved Web sites will be located on our school Web site. The list will continue to evolve over the course of the school year.



Cross Curricular Projects

The 2011-12 school year brings with it the arrival of cross curricular projects for junior high/high school students. Cross curricular teaching allows students to apply knowledge, principles, and/or values to more than one academic subject simultaneously. Classes may be related through a central theme, issue, problem, or topic.

One school-wide project will be scheduled per semester. Students will receive a grade in each subject area for corresponding work.  See example on the next page.