Every writing instructor has to deal with the occasional case of plagiarism. Students wait too late to write a paper, then panic and steal others' online writing. Sometimes they don't cite sources properly. Other times they simply cut and paste whole articles. Either way, it's bad bad bad.
This year I have had almost zero cases of cheating, which is amazing. My students have been doing some darned good writing, and I'm so proud of them. The lack of plagiarism this year also reflects the fact that I completely revised my assignments and essay prompts so that my criteria are more creative. It's virtually impossible for my students to cheat on 3 out of their 4 essay cycles. However, one of the papers was a more traditional research essay, and sure enough, one of the students turned in an essay that was patched together from at least three different websites. Maybe about a page of it--maybe--was his own.
So, I called him out on it and sat him down to talk about the essay. I asked him to tell me what happened with it. What were the first words out of his mouth?
"Well, when I turned this paper in in high school, my teacher gave me a 95 on it, so I thought it would be great for this class."
Oh! Well, that changes everything! If only I had known...
Hmmm. A penny for your thoughts, dear readers? Is there any logical way to respond to this without a) wringing said student's neck, or b) banging my own head against the wall at the same time? What would you do (besides epic fail the paper, of course)?