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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teaching with AI: Can the bot be a useful tool?

Credit: DALL-E

ChatGPT can be a powerful teaching tool, argues Ben Talsma, who helps teachers use technology, on Chalkbeat. A learning specialist for Van Andel Institute for Education, a Michigan-based education nonprofit, he helps teachers use technology

AI can help teachers model the concepts they want students to understand. This works for all sorts of things, from comparing and contrasting different characters to telling the difference between complete and incomplete sentences. Teachers can, in a matter of minutes, create dozens of examples for students to rate, rank, sort, or comment on. . . . I’m seeing teachers provide students with samples of AI-generated work, then working with them to improve it. This is an engaging way to open up deep conversations about writing.

"ChatGPT often makes factual errors" Talsma writes. Fifth-graders love fact-checking AI-generated content to find errors. Embrace the disruption, writes Sarah Dillard of Kaleidoscope, which develops liberal arts courses for schools. "Banning ChatGPT is a bit like mandating abstinence-only sex education." It's not going to work. Instead, she writes, educators can figure out how to use AI.

It will be "even more important to develop students’ capacity to discern what’s true from what’s merely polished and authoritative-sounding," she writes.
ChatGPT can summarize complex passages for struggling readers, giving them enough of a toehold to read the original text; rephrase difficult concepts in ways that can help students relate them to their own experiences; and provide a second opinion to students on their written work.

ChatGPT also can lighten teachers' workloads, she writes. It "can help generate curriculum, lecture notes, test questions and classroom rubrics — and use those rubrics to grade student work."

Larry Ferlazzo links to four helpful resources on using ChatGPT for teaching and learning.

Teach students, explicitly and step by step, how to construct sentences and paragraphs and create linear outlines, suggests Natalie Wexler, co-author of The Writing Revolution. That way, they'll be able to write as well as the bots.

"Only 27% of eighth- and twelfth-graders are proficient in writing, as measured by national tests," Wexler writes. Many educators expect high school and college students to turn "to artificial intelligence to do their writing assignments for them."

"Teaching students to write is tantamount to teaching them how to think clearly, logically, and analytically, and it moves their reading comprehension to a higher level," she concludes. "No bot-created paragraph or essay can do that."

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