Thaddeus Stevens

Thaddeus Stevens

Friday, November 2, 2012

Turn It In Dot Com

For those students that don't "get" the idea of Turn It In Dot Com, the purpose is meant to be simple: How much of your work is actually your work?

But what exactly is "YOUR WORK?"

Well, a good rule of thumb is my version of the PRECIS TEMPLATE (you can look that up on Google or go on the side bar for a link related to that). The method I used before I ever heard of said device was the algebraic formula that I invented:

X uses Y to show Z

X, list credentials, uses Y to show Z

When W combines with X, Y occurs. This means Z.

There are many other ways you can write said formulas, but in the end, no matter what verb you use, the result is the same: You have found facts and you have made them your own by stating that they have some purpose other than just existing.

The same is true for a quote. If you don't connect it into the flow of your paper and state what it means, it's a refrigerator magnet. It's a cool quote, but that's about it.

So how do we make these things your own?

The car doesn't work properly. You can use your big old brain to TROUBLESHOOT and tell me why.

The historical facts say that Samuel Mudd was in cahoots with John Wilkes Booth, so he was sentenced to life in prison (he was later pardoned for using his medical skills during a yellow fever outbreak at Dry Tortugas prison).You revisit the case and IMPLY from available facts whether he was guilty.

There are a lot of fish dying in the river near where you go hunting. You use your big old brain to DEDUCE the reasons why and fight to solve the problem with reasonable and effective solutions. (on that note, just because Balanced Politics Dot Org and Pro Con Dot Org list great reasons why, how can you use your voice to affect my heart and my mind in making the change instead of just using standard "canned" arguments that you write out in a list?).

Mike Brown, an astronomer at Cal Tech, made specific comments about what a heavenly body must be like to be considered a planet. You use this quote to HELP your argument of why Pluto should not be a planet (he's actually the guy who helped make this decision).

A baseball player that plays for a losing team is doing exceptionally well this year. You are his agent, so you look at the numbers he has generated and compare him to other players and forecast how he would do if he played in a different park. Thus, you PREDICT where he will excel and how you both can make lots of bank.

Speaking of baseball, Bill James, a sabermetrician who wrote The Historical Baseball Abstract (think the movie Moneyball expanded to about 1,000 pages), said that if we look at the ideas that we research, we will need to see:

¨1) what is missing from the picture?
¨2) what is distorted here, and what is accurately portrayed?
¨3) How can we include what has been left out?
¨4) How can we correct what has been distorted?

For instance, Jackie Robinson has really good numbers and is a first tier Hall of Famer, but modern players get better statistics than him, so who is better? We would need to look at the average stats of the day AND in Jackie's case, we would need to look at the barriers against him as the first African American player going into the Major Leagues. As a result, we would see how much he really achieved by adjusting for conditions, but that said, we would need to be OBJECTIVE (factual expectations of increased ability) about that instead of SUBJECTIVE (our opinions, or in this case, unfair elevations of his talent). On that note, Jackie Robinson is my number one hero in the world. I can't wait for the movie next year.

In short, this is what we're doing when obtain information to research. We're looking at quotes, statistics, facts, and other information to determine if it's good.

Not all information is good.

Not every source that you use is reputable.

While not every teacher requires the same measure of proof in the sources that he or she requires you to be using, you should still be thinking, "Who is saying this stuff? What is this person's credentials? How can I insert this into a paper in a logical order that proves my point? How do I make it my own?"

That's important because if you're using the same order of sentence after sentence after sentence, you're plagiarizing. This is because your paper has to be you and not the guy or gal who you're taking EVERYTHING from. You have to be smart enough to understand it. You have to go back to the source and read more about it (use this person's works cited list as well!). You have to look up words, terms, and events you don't know about. Reading once isn't enough. Sometimes, you have to go on a wild journey to whatever it takes to be great. Higher level thinking and college demands it. Really.

But that said, I know you can do it! And that's why I'm here (to bring out the best in you)! If the people that worked here didn't believe that, they wouldn't be here either. However, we're all here trying to make you be as great as you are because that's what this show is about.

So think about getting information and making it your own like this: If you cut up an apple into pieces, it's still an apple - only smaller. If you make apple turnovers, it has apple in it and you can see the apple, but you've combined it with other things to be truly original and unique, even if you can still see strands of apple.

The same is true for a cake. Combine eggs, flour, sugar, etc. and you will have a cake. The ingredients make something new. However, before it's blended and cooked, it's just parts thrown together. Imagine how awkward it would look if you threw the eggs in while they are still in their shells! Yet this is what many a paper looks like when students don't outline, prewrite, or plan how they will assemble their materials.

Which brings us back to Turn It In Dot Com.

If you're really worried about staying under the magic plagiarism penalties / "go back and redo it" number, you will utilize pre-writing skills to avoid this. The good folks at the Tutoring Center can help you with this. You will figure out what information you need, and you will state the ideas in your voice. As a teacher myself, I never see a student who is showing me the DEEPER MEANINGS (the AND SO of the facts) as having plagiarized IF he or she is making a concentrated effort to apply the information in his own words. I can't speak for all teachers, but that's a good place to at least start in the learning levels.

Paraphrasing and summarization are tough skills to master. They require the higher level Bloom's Taxonomy skills of analyzing and evaluations. The highest level is to synthesize parts into the whole. With practice, it can be done. Oh, yes! You can do it! But you have to practice. Without practice, there is only the act of doing. Remember, Malcolm Gladwell writes in his awesome book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to be great at something. There are no shortcuts. We're not trying to be great after just 1 college class, but we're trying to move from listening about how something is done to doing it with help to doing it on our own to doing it on our own without thinking about it. When we can "just do it" (as Nike says), we're golden. That's the goal in all that we do. When we get so automatic, it's amazing what we can do or how we can do it. For example, I'm able to type 82 words a minute, but I can't diagram what keys are exactly where on the keyboard.
Go figure.

Nevertheless, this doing without learning stuff is anathema (horrible wrong / forbidden / something that should never be done)! Would you want me to build you a patio because I got a book from the Home Depot and now I think I can do it? Of course you don't, so why would you write a paper without having someone to help you with the instructions or without taking advantage of prewriting techniques?

See, that's where your teachers and the Tutoring Center can help you be great (or at the very least, a grade or 2 higher than you were before). You can ask them questions. You can come to us for help. Both of us keep an object in motion. We provide step by step instructions for you. We move you to the places that you want to be in the ways that worked for us. Sure, they might mean a little more effort, but the grade you receive when it's over will be worth it.

So now we go back to plagiarism

}1. Don’t cut and paste.
}2. Paraphrase means more than just REARRANGE the words or cleverly change 1 or 2 words (i.e. just getting rid of 1st or 2nd person and changing it to 3rd person).
}3. Borrowing specific and unique adjectives is also plagiarism unless they’re in quotes as well.
}4. If you’re going to word for word something, you must have it in quotes, and it must need to be there in the author’s voice.
}5. Don’t cut and paste (so not nice, I said it twice!)!!
}6. Making up bogus stuff and putting a citation next to it.

and what I call "Not-so-good-ed-ness."

}1. Listing authors with no credentials and telling me that they said something (a writer for the Podunk Express newspaper is not a Harvard researcher or even a Sports Illustrated writer when it comes to research).
}2. Forgetting a Works Cited Page, forgetting page numbers, forgetting in text citations.
}3. Writing everything from a source in order, line after line after line… even if you try to paraphrase it.
}4. Leaving acronyms in parentheses and never using the acronym again (it’s the first sign to me that you just sat next to a source and wrote straight out of it – really).
}5. Randomly inserting “really cool stuff” that you found that seems repetitive and builds into nothing cohesive, but it sure sounds NEAT-O!
}6. Not understanding what you’re paraphrasing or writing about.

This last one includes being vague about "studies" (WHAT STUDIES?) or not using the primary (original) source that a study or information came from (instead taking someone else's word for it. While they aren't all plagiarism, they're less than the scholarly effort you're looking for.

If you can avoid these things, you're golden. Really.

So yeah... this is a lot of words and a big lecture, but it's the building blocks to everything.

So if you want to learn about avoiding these things and doing other things better, please come to see us.

We'd love to help you achieve your dreams of college success.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mr. Bigler's Searching Project

If I was looking for information on what my job is going to be like, I would start by looking for what jobs are out there. I could do this with the websites on the right or something like

Using the buzz words of the trade, I could Google search for other things. Knowing what COMPANIES are excellent will tell me who knows what's what. They'll also teach me before, during, and after the classes that I sit through.

In addition, by looking at jobs, I'll know what SKILLS and LICENSES that I will need for them. Without a license, you may not be hirable. Really.

Nevertheless, if I'm not interested in what I'm reading about, I might find that I want to be an X not a Y. It's better to know now before you waste a few weeks, months, or years in training and find that the job just wasn't what you thought it was. Besides, that's why Mr. Bigler gets you into labs early - real life experience that you have with a job is everything.

That said, some of the best websites for each field are the ASSOCIATIONS and ORGANIZATIONS of the trade. I'm not here to get you into one or not into one, but TRADE UNIONS are great for telling people what's current in TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS and POLITICAL + SAFETY concerns regarding the field today.

Most students really want to be in the up and coming jobs, and I don't blame them. We're going forward in history - not backward. Thus, you might want to look for all things GREEN. This doesn't mean that you do or don't have to believe in global warming, but a lot of people who are building do believe in this. In addition, the government pays for environmentally-friendly rennovations in tax incentives.

Mr. Bigler is all about TOOLS of the trade. He is a contractor and a professional teacher at Thaddeus Stevens for many years now. He knows what people need, and the ability to own and use tools will make or break your days on the job.

Finally, CODES and REGULATIONS guide all of the things that we do in the field of technology. The government will expect that we're complying with laws and standards. Our professional organizations will make sure that our ethics and workmanship are equal to those people that we work beside. Really. There are no Lone Rangers.

Finally, going to You Tube for HOW TO VIDEOS makes learning and trades come alive. Really.

This project may seem difficult, but this project is essential to being the kind of employee that Thaddeus Stevens is training to be successful in the 21st century job world.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Prior to being a math tutor at Thaddeus Stevens, Bethany Herr grew up in Lancaster County and graduated from Donegal High School.  Afterward, she attended York College of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education.  During her last semester of college, she began  her experience in the classroom when she student taught 8th Grade Mathematics/Algebra in Morganton, North Carolina.  Many people from Pennsylvania may not be familiar with this location, but Brittany was intrigued by her experiences with the southern culture and the ability to live in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. 
Following graduation, she worked as a high school geometry teacher at Garinger High School in Charlotte, NC.  This past summer, she returned to Pennsylvania to work on her master’s degree in Mathematics Education at Millersville University. 
Beyond working and studying, Bethany loves to travel around the United States and internationally.  Her most memorable trip was to Egypt in 2010, where she spent several weeks exploring the country and interacting with the people living there.  Highlights of the trip included climbing inside the Great Pyramid of Giza and completing a night hike to the top of Mt. Sinai.  Beyond travelling, Bethany enjoys kayaking, backpacking, and spending time outside.  This past summer, she spent a week hiking the Rocky Mountain National Forest.   
She looks forward to seeing everyone in the math lab this fall semester! J

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Kevin McCulley is very excited to be tutoring at the Math Lab at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. Prior to coming to Stevens, Kevin graduated from Ephrata High School in 2005.  He then went to Grove City College to get his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education. Afterward, he has been a substitute teacher who has educated students at many different high schools in the Lancaster area. 
Last spring, Kevin's came to be a part of the Thaddeus Stevens family when his mom, Mrs. Linda McCulley, a math teacher at the school, informed Kevin that the school was looking for someone to watch the lab on Tuesday nights. Kevin quickly jumped at the opportunity, and he has been there ever since. 
This year, the ACT 101 grant that has provided additional tutoring hours to Thaddeus Stevens students he allowed him to increase hours in the lab to 2-8 Monday to Thursday and 10-2 on Satursdays. As a result, he will be available for tutoring five of the 6 days of the week that the lab proudly serves the students of Stevens.
In addition to tutoring at the Math Lab, Kevin plans on continuing to substitute at the local high schools of the area. In his free time, he also enjoys juggling as part of the juggling duo, The DKers.  In addition, he has also started a Survivor Fantasy Football League in the Lab. Should you want to be a part of this competition, feel free to come in and get in on the game! Finally, Kevin wants the students of Thaddeus Stevens to know that if anyone is interested in joining an indoor soccer team this winter, then they can let him know since he is looking to start one.
Kevin looks forward to working with you at the Math Lab in the near future.


The newest tutor in the Math Lab is Steve Sturgis.  Steve is a professional engineer with licenses in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He's originally from the Reading, Pennsylvania, area, where he graduated from Governor Mifflin High School.  He also graduated from Lehigh University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Science in Management Science. 
In addition to his education in engineering, Steve was an ROTC student on campus. After this, he then spent four years in the US Army, where he was stationed in Savannah, Georgia, and the Washington DC area.
Prior to helping tutor Thaddeus Stevens students in the maths and sciences, his business career encompassed 24 years of service with M&M/Mars, working in manufacturing plants in both Hackettstown, New Jersey, and Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania until he retired from Mars in 2005.  In addition to this, his career advancement with this company took him to the M&M/Mars National Office. When his job ended, Steven kept working as a PC Technician for Lancaster General Hospital for 3 years. Here, his roles included that of Industrial Engineer, Shift Manager, Contract Packaging Manager, and Personnel Manager.
Now that his work responsibilities have changed, his dedication to others still goes on. In the past few years Steve has been volunteering as a Mentor at Donegal Middle School, working with 6th and 7th grade students in Math classes. He looks forward to making a difference in your math abilities as you take advantage of all that the tutoring center has to offer you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


First and foremost, putting quotes around terms means that you will search them out IN THAT ORDER ("Reading High School" instead of all high schools that have a reading program).

Second, by looking for full text, you won't get abstracts (150-250 word summaries of what you're reading). This is a very good practice to get into (unless you are trying to figure out if a study will tell you what you want it to).

Third, by looking for articles with references, you will find that you can look up all of the sources that your article used. This is useful for studies on things (for example, seeing the study on Autism that your author is writing about).

Next, by looking for peer-reviewed articles, you will get scholarly documents written by PHDs and guys and gals with masters degrees. This is useful, but this might be a lot of terminology from the field that you aren't familiar with yet. Know what you're using. Make sure that just because PHD Smith knows it, you know it, too. If you don't understand it, it's useless to your cause. Really.


Use AND or + (depending on the engine) to connect words that must be there. (Steroids + baseball)
Use NOT or – to connect words that should not be there. (Titanic – movie)
Use OR if only one of the words must be there in the search.
Use an asterisk (*) to show that any letters can be there after the initials letters. (biolog* for biology and biologists)

Monday, August 27, 2012


Dan Glass is also very excited to be a new English tutor at Thaddeus Stevens.
Originally, Dan grew up in Berks County; however, he was able to experience the world when he joined the Air Force and was stationed in the United Kingdom for the better part of 5 years. After getting out of the military, he stayed in country and continued to experience all of the things that England had to offer until he returned to the America that he grew up in 8 months later.
From there, he pursued an associate degree at Reading Area Community College, which he used to complete a bachelor's degree in  high school English education at Alvernia College (now University). In 2010, he also completed his master's degree in education at Alvernia University. Combining these degrees with 3 years of high school education experience and over eight years of college education experience at various schools in the area, Dan has a strong desire to share his love of writing, research, and education with students everywhere - namely the students at Thaddeus Stevens, who he hopes will take advantage of all of the opportunities that the school has to offer them.
In addition to working at Stevens, Dan is an afficianado of travel, hiking, and photography, and he especially loves to explore the many waterfalls that our state parks have to offer. He has seen many of these great natural monuments of Pennsylvania, and he is always trying to find ways to take his wife, Heather, to more of them on their many trips throughout the area. In addition, he is a huge baseball fan and reader / writer / music listener / explorer of American history and culture.
He hopes that he can inspire your educational and / or road trip journeys with the knowledge that he has gained from his many years "on the road!" All it takes is a single step to start your journey, no matter how many steps you have to take!