Copyright–Not My Favorite Topic to Teach

I love teaching the research process!  Let students loose on a topic they find interesting, and they are enthusiastic and engaged.  I hate teaching Works Consulted, Bibliography, References, or whatever you want to call it. I know it’s critical, I never leave it out of the process, but all of those periods, italics, and colons that have to be in the absolute correct format rarely seem relevant to students. Plus the rules change regularly. Doesn’t matter if it was 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005 or is 2013–it’s really difficult for students (some adults too) to understand the importance of intellectual property and proper citation.  Too many schools have no systematic way of teaching these procedures.  It is getting worse as more and more districts feel they can dispense with the services of a professional librarian at the middle level who would be the onsite expert in all matters dealing with copyright.

The rules of citation really have changed with the easy availability of information, images, and audio via the Internet. Fair use, Creative Commons, public domain–what do these terms all mean and how do they relate to helping students do research efficiently and ethically?  The answers are all contained in a course created by Barbara Greenstone available free to anyone in iTunesU at the iTunes Store as long as they have an  iPad.  You don’t have to do the course as “a course”, however the materials provide an up-to-date resource on the topic.

Here’s how you find the course at the iTunes Store:

1. Go to the App Store and download iTunesU app–it’s free.  Click on the green download button–the image below has an update button because I have already downloaded the app.


2. The app will appear on your screen and look like the one below (in the middle with a mortarboard).

app icon

3. Click on the app and your library will open.  You can toggle back and forth between the catalog and your library (what you download through iTunesU) with the button in the upper left hand corner.   As you can see I have already downloaded several courses from iTunesU–all free!


4. Click on the button in the upper left hand corner to get to the catalog, and a screen similar to the one below should appear.


5. Click on K-12 and scroll through the B’s until you come to Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor and click on that link.


6.  You should then see the courses available from your colleagues in Boothbay!  Click on “Copyright for Educators”.

BBHcourse   COURSE SUBSCRIBE   Click on Subscribe in the green box–button here is not green because I have already subscribed to the course.

7. Open the file and you will see the course outline. 


Some districts allow teachers to create portfolios of independent work to earn re-certification credit.  Time spent on a course like this one would be easy to document because the content is spelled out as well as ways to demonstrate understanding.


About Jill Spencer

I taught middle school for many years, and now I consult with schools across the country and internationally in the areas of curriculum and instruction, including technology integration. Please also check out my blog about middle school teaming at Other publications include: Teaming Rocks! Collaborate in Powerful Ways to Ensure Student Success Everyone’s Invited! Interactive Strategies That Engage Young Adolescents 10 Differentiation Strategies for Building Prior Knowledge
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