My students published their research-based essays on the Holocaust this morning, which was not a small feat! I was so incredibly proud of their diligence and desire to produce a quality piece of writing during the final month of the school year. After their celebration, they went to recess and lunch. When they returned, I had a press release waiting in their mailboxes with some not-so-good news that I learned about last night (and didn’t have the heart to tell them about until after the Publishing Party) about one of the texts we read that turned out to be a fabrication. The first question (I’m not making this up) out of one of my student’s mouths, as soon as I finished reading the release was, “What happens if you included information about him in your essay? If it’s not true, what do you do now?” I smiled, delighted by the fact that she realized that the truth matters when you’re writing a research-based essay. I explained to my students that it was not their fault if they included fabricated information from this book in their essay for me; they would not be penalized. However, since several of them are planning to submit their essays to “This I Believe,” I told them they’d have to eradicate the sentences that talked about that book from their writing since they were untrue.
There was quite a discussion that took place after that initial question was posed to me. There was one follow-up about removing sentences from the essay before publishing it online. Again, this made me realize that my kids truly understand the fact that when you write an essay, it needs to include the facts. NOTHING can be made up! While I’m saddened that this book* does not portray the happy ending I thought it did, I am glad my students learned the lesson that you have to question and research everything, even when something claims to be “a true story” on the dust jacket.
It was difficult to share the news of the fabrication with my students. However, not telling them wasn’t an option since they’re entitled to know the truth. After all, the truth matters!
* = I purposely didn’t mention the name of the book my students and I read in this post since it has been pulled from bookstores. If you’d like to know what book I’m referring to, then please click here.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.