Or so it seems. . . .
A couple of weeks ago, the inevitable happened. . . . a student used AI and ChatGPT to “write” his assignment. I thought I had pretty much made the assignment plagiarism-proof by creating a specific question about a specific passage from the text we were studying, having students do the close reading and annotations in class, and beginning the writing process in the classroom. I was wrong. He wondered how I knew it was created by AI. I told him the truth: first, it was too perfect–no mechanical or spelling errors; the student is known for his lack of proofreading! Second, the diction was too academic. I shared the assignment with the head of school to discuss whether I should take further disciplinary action who asked, “What professor wrote this?” Third, he didn’t include textual evidence from the passage.
So I am reading up on using AI in the classroom. And I am falling down another rabbit hole. I am also seeing that AI, and ChatGPT in particular, can change the way I do things.
I follow Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook fame. He is come out with a new book, AI in the Classroom. It’s a quick read; I read it in one afternoon. He devotes a chapter to classroom applications of ChatGPT. Another book I’m delving into is The AI Classroom. This book goes farther than Miller’s to include other forms of AI that are useful. For example, the authors, Dan Fitzpatrick, Amanda Fox, and Brad Weinstein, introduced the app Curipod, which generates ready-made interactive slide presentations. It’s similar to Nearpod and Pear Deck. There are various options for presentations, including full lessons, lesson hooks, brain breaks, and full lessons among others. I typed in a couple of lessons I’ll be teaching or reviewing, and the app created a slide deck of some sixteen interactive slides. These slides are customizable as well.
Yesterday, I used ChatGPT to write some unit plans for the final units of study for this school year. I started with the novel Ghost by Jason Reynolds. One thing about ChatGPT: it has to be “trained.” I learned quickly that the more specific I can be in my prompts, the better the results. However, it is not infallible. When I asked for passages for close reading and annotation from Ghost and from Where the Red Fern Grows, I did not get accurate results, especially for Where the Red Fern Grows. (I checked!) However, I did get some good ideas from ChatGPT for both units, and I will sort through them as I write up my final plan.
AI presents us with some interesting tools and more questions. One thing I do know: we will have to teach students how to use this technology for learning. We will have to teach them how to use it ethically as well. Technology is “smart,” but I still think human beings are smarter. (After all, I knew the difference between my student’s submission and a computer’s!)