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Lillie Marshall, Humanities Teacher
Boston Public Schools
Lillie Marshall, a Turnitin MVP All-Star honorable mention, takes 150 students’ work wherever she goes—near or far—at a Greek cafe in Boston or an airport in Greece.
Turnitin: Welcome to the Turnitin Educator Spotlight Series. I’m Ray Huang. Joining me today is Lillie Marshall, a Turnitin power user and Turnitin All-Star honorable mention in the MVP category.
Lillie, thanks for chatting with me today. Could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your first impressions of Turnitin?
L.M.: I teach in Boston Public Schools. I’ve been using Turnitin since 2010, and I love it. When I began to use it was like the heavens opened and there was an angel sound, I was so excited about it because I had been in the district for ten years, and I just spent so much time suspecting if someone plagiarizing, Googling pieces of their work, sometimes finding it, sometimes not. So it’s just a huge benefit.
Turnitin: Now I know you do a good amount of travel—a pretty extensive amount—because I recall you sent out a tweet that you were grading in the airport waiting to hop on a plane to go to Greece (follow Lillie on Twitter @WorldLillie).
L.M.: Yes to Greece, yes. Yes, but mostly I just spend hours and hours using Turnitin in cafes, or libraries, because we have a load of 140 to 150 students in our school. So before Turnitin.com, catching plagiarism was a huge issue because you can’t be googling every little thing for 150 papers that you suspect. And before Turnitin, also doing the rubrics was a big hassle for 150 papers having to add it all up. But I just love that you can click it, and it can automatically calculate the grades.
Turnitin: So, tell us about your progression through learning and actually using Turnitin.
L.M.: So, yes, I began using Turnitin because of its plagiarism-busting properties, just because we have such a big student load, it was essential. And, I used it to teach students about plagiarism. They did an example of something plagiarized so they were able to see how Turnitin would catch it, and we talked about why plagiarism is so terrible and the repercussions of it. But then, I quickly got excited about a few features. One of the features being that you can create and upload rubrics and just click, click, click, and it calculates automatically what the student’s score would be.
The second one is the QuickMark, because I found myself constantly writing the same comments over and over again, and then I realized it could either be stored within Turnitin already, or I could create my own marks and just drag them right in.
And then finally the narrative comments as well. So I do the QuickMarks, dragging them in on different parts, and then I do a paragraph or three narratives for each student of the overall about their paper. And I just love that because I have terrible handwriting, and I hated handwriting comments and my hand would hurt, but I love typing. So it makes it a lot easier for me. And I know that some of my coworkers really like the voice comments feature, because they don’t like typing. But for me, my personal preference is typing comments, and Turnitin makes that possible.
Turnitin: What have you done within your school and among your colleagues in getting others to use Turnitin?
L.M.: So to get others to use Turnitin, you know, there’s a lot of talk about teachers who started teaching longer ago and don’t like adopting new technology, and it’s only the young whippersnappers who like it. But, that’s really not been the case in our school. Our school has a really diverse teaching staff in terms of how long they’ve been teaching, and we’ve seen interest among all of the different age groups in our school because the benefits are so clear. So the way that I’ve helped the staff with Turnitin is I had run workshops helping teach Turnitin, and often I’ll do it in collaboration with another colleague--sometimes even from departments like science or math because they’re starting to do more writing.
And so in addition to the workshops, I’ve done a lot of sort of spot help, like if someone emails out to the staff, “I’m having trouble doing the narrative comments feature.” I can either pop by their classroom or send then an email or the link to the tutorial about how to get it done.
And another thing that we do to support each other is we’ll have kind of grading parties. Like several of us will go to a café and all do Turnitin grading together in the café.
Turnitin: Grading parties, I love it. Now you run a couple of websites. Tell us about those.
L.M.: I’ve written and published two websites about global education. One of them is called TeachingTraveling.com and that helps teacher travel by sharing stories of teacher-travelers who’ve made it happen. And so, it shares stories of grants and different programs for that. And then, the other website is AroundtheWorldL.com in which I talk about my own travel exploits, both physical travel and also mental travel. In fact, I think I mentioned Turnitin in one of my posts—I wrote about going to an ed camp, and Turnitin was one of the tools that I presented because I do various presentations about education technology.
Turnitin: So as you travel the world, it’s probably during school breaks and such. Many teachers I know still have a good amount of grading to do during those breaks. How does Turnitin help you in that regard?
L.M.: So the portability of Turnitin has been essential for the fact that I travel so much. So you think we have 150 students and they each hand in a paper of about 4 to 10 pages and then there are drafts on top of it, and the rubric paper on top of it. That creates a stack of papers about 7 inches tall and extremely heavy. And before Turnitin.com, I had to lug these giant bags of papers everywhere I would travel over the vacation. And there would always be the terror that I would lose them somewhere. In fact, once I almost did. But with Turnitin.com, all I have to bring is a slim little computer and I can get all my grading done—a lot of it I get done in the airport, or in hotels. I went on a teacher tour of Greece a few years ago, and my coworker and I just both brought our computers and we did a lot of our grading in the airports. I think I tweeted out something like, “Thanks Turnitin, I’m able to get my work done in the airport.”
Turnitin: Well Lillie, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.
L.M.: Thanks a lot Ray. Bye.
Turnitin: I’ve been talking to Lillie Marshall, Humanities teacher at Boston Latin Academy and an MVP honorable mention for the Turnitin All-Stars award program.