Anti-Burnout For English Teachers
Anti-Burnout For English Teachers
5. The REAL Reason We Need to Talk About ChatGPT: The Opportunities and Challenges of AI in the Classroom
Challenges of AI in the Classroom Banner

In this episode I share my personal journey with ChatGPT and my own challenges of AI in the classroom. I address concerns surrounded AI-generated content and share strategies for assessing and grading student work in the Age of AI. I explore the potential impact of AI on different industries and offer insights into the increasing importance of student authenticity and creative expression. Tune in for a conversation on how teachers can navigate the integration of AI in their classrooms (or not!) While avoiding burnout.

Today, I want to share a story that unfolded during my recent literary analysis unit on The Water Dancer, where AI’s presence became both fascinating and concerning.

As I guided my students through this engaging unit, providing them with all the necessary tools and scaffolding, I was disheartened when some of them turned in assignments completed with the assistance of Chat GPT, an AI language model. To my disappointment, the responses were far from satisfactory, often filled with fabricated details and nonsensical answers. This experience led me to reflect on the challenges we face as educators when it comes to AI-generated content and the implications it has on students’ writing abilities.

While there are challenges of AI in the classroom, the increasing availability of generative AI is not without benefits. The most exciting thing about AI in the English classroom is that it gives an impetus to help students understand and express their own unique and creative selves. Some key points:

  • It helps students find and share their humanity, which makes them unique and creative.
  • Students need to develop skills to get to the heart of what makes a piece of writing tick and bring their own spin, not just replicate AI.
  • This helps students prepare for a future where AI will replace mediocre work, so they need to develop their individuality and creativity.

In this podcast, we will explore various aspects of AI in education, including the limitations and potential of AI tools like Chat GPT, as well as the ethical considerations and struggles we encounter as we strive to ensure academic integrity. Together, we will seek innovative strategies to tackle these issues, empowering ourselves and our students to embrace the benefits of technology while maintaining a strong focus on genuine learning experiences.

Key Points Discussed in This Episode

Personal Story: Literary Analysis Unit on The Water Dancer

  • Disheartening discovery: Students using AI language model for assignments
  • Reflection on challenges faced by educators with AI-generated content
  • Implications for students’ writing abilities and academic integrity

Exploring AI in Education

  • Understanding the limitations and potential of AI tools like Chat GPT
  • Ethical considerations and struggles related to AI in education
  • Balancing technology’s benefits with maintaining genuine learning experiences

Practical Solutions and Strategies for Challenges of AI in the Classroom

  • Discussing innovative approaches to tackle challenges posed by AI
  • Empowering educators and students to embrace AI as a powerful tooll

Nurturing critical thinking, creativity, and authentic writing skills alongside AI usage

  • Discussions and Experiences
  • Sharing personal stories and experiences related to AI in education
  • Examining the evolving landscape of AI’s role in the education sector

Opportunities for Discussion Based on this Episode

Challenges of AI in the Classroom Discussion Questions


Okay, so I’m pretty excited to get into this. AI has been rapidly changing, and I think it brings a lot of possibilities and also a lot of trepidation, especially on the part of us high school English teachers because we have already probably seen this being a potential problem that could be very large.

Personal Experience: Challenges with AI in the Classroom

I’ll tell you about what happened with me. In the spring. I was doing a unit on the water dancer, and as a literary analysis unit. I felt so good about it because I had walk students through the different pieces. I think that I did a pretty good job if I don’t say so myself that I had really set the students up so that this formative assessments were leading to the summative assessments, they had everything that they needed, it was really scaffolded they could go back to their assignments to get the quotes, they didn’t really need to go back to the book much at all.

So everyone that had stayed with me on the assignments had everything. So that meant that when students use ChatGPT to complete their assignment, I was pretty disappointed. And what was pretty interesting as I said, they had read The Water Dancer, which is a book that is not in the corpus of ChatGPT because of when it was published, and I tested it out a little bit when we got into the assignment to see what chat GBT would give me.

And it was a little comical to be honest. It gave me some assignments that were I don’t know, they were kind of like, perhaps they made sense if you knew what the book was about, generally, but there was a lot that was made up. And if I asked for a quote, quote, it was I asked for some questions that were just comprehension questions. And it just made up answers. I guess it probably had a summary or it had a little bit of information. So then it just, you know, extrapolated and embellished around that.

But for that reason, when students gave me assignments that were based on ChatGPT I knew immediately because it didn’t make any sense, not only was the writing just flat and basic. The details themselves didn’t make sense because they they didn’t they didn’t make sense.

I’ll tell you another story quick. So one of my students gave me I was like, what happened? What did you see? And they said that they had found something online. And they gave it to me, and it was the most hilarious summary that I had ever. It was so funny because it it was it had some of the details kind of of the text, but not really because it just wasn’t following the whole narrative.

Future Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Improvement of Technologies

So that was ChatGPT in the spring. And now we’re actually in a different version of ChatGPT. So right now the ChatGPT. framework, like what it’s based off of, is GPT-3, but a four exists. So it’s really three and a half. But I do find that it generates better responses now.

I’ve done some experiments and and, you know, kick the tires on it a little bit and it does give much better responses now than it did in the spring. So I don’t know. It still makes things up.

Because we are in the business of getting students to write themselves. So if they are giving us things that are written by ChatGPT, not only is it sad, it makes us cry, it also leads to a lot of frustration because of what happens next. Because I’m not really sure how this is going go because right now, okay, like let’s say that we know we know for sure that they did not write this that it was written by AI.

So you may have had access to or know of tools that did plagiarism detection that could detect for AI. I’ve tested those out recently as well, like chat, or what is it called GPTZero is not doing it. It is not very successfully identifying AI so I would say that’s probably unless it gets an upgrade. Not going to work. I don’t know how other like Turn It In has a plagiarism detector. Maybe that’s working better. But here’s the problem.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: AI Evidence

So let’s say that something is detected as being written by AI. Then what? There’s no paper trail, right? So there’s nothing to say. Look, this is what came off of the internet. This is what you wrote. They’re exactly the same. It’s all very like loosey goosey and I just don’t know how well that’s going to stand up. So not only is there a lot of time put in on our part to figure out what the heck is going on.

Because we know that the student didn’t write this but then if we are able to say that it was written by AI then there’s the paperwork of discipline referrals, having conversations talking to the parents, there’s all this that is going to feel I think going forward very uncomfortable, because we don’t have solid evidence in order to say that this is not happening. So there’s a lot of stress, stress on our part, right?

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Cheaters Are Going to Cheat

And I’m sorry to bring this up in the summer when you guys are relaxing, I’m relaxing too, but I will say I have some ideas for how to go about approaching this that I think will feel better. Of course, nothing’s gonna be perfect. All the students that want to cheat will cheat.

But I did I also wanted to tell you that I did a little bit of a investigation, a little bit of research on YouTube about chat GPT and plagiarism, and this isn’t even where I was. intending to go. But this is what I found. There are so many videos, so many videos, y’all so many videos of people giving students advice for how to get around the plagiarism checkers. So I think if a student wants to cheat, they’re going to do it.

So I think we need to have a different strategy and I will give you a couple ideas that I have. Okay, so idea one, okay. And I also have to tell you the last one I am so so so excited about I think this is the most excited. I’ve been talking to you so far, because I don’t know I think I think this is gonna be really good.

I’m just really excited, but I’m leaving this to last so that I can you know, leave something for excitement. So stay till the end. All right. So, first idea.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Blended Classrooms

My first thought is that we need to focus more on process. So what a couple like some of my colleagues outside of the building in the building, whatever. Some people what their reaction is here is to say, Okay, well, if we can’t trust that they’re going to do the right thing on the computer, then we need to have them handwrite everything. Write everything by hand.

Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I just can’t go back there. I don’t use a lot of paper in general for for reasons like I have gone through the process of saying, This is why I’m not going to use paper. I don’t want to spend my life at the copier. I don’t feel like oh my gosh, and this is going to be like a little bit controversial, but I don’t know that blended learning works as well as people want it to because I think that students lose paper especially when they’re not used to having paper all the time.

They just do not keep track of paper I feel like now there are the students that are actually able to keep track of and organize themselves with paper are so few and far between.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Paper Trail

And I found last year actually made it a goal last year to be a little bit more blended to incorporate more paper than I had in the past and I regretted it because I felt like when I gave feedback on paper students it was as if it didn’t exist. Like they lost the paper. And then when I told them that the feedback existed on their paper, they did not believe me. Like the paper was gone. The feedback didn’t exist. It’s like the paper never existed.

And I think it’s the same way like there’s no paper trail, you know, like when everything’s online, everything’s in the same place. There’s a paper trail, even if they were to resolve my comments, we can get them back like everything that I’ve told them is existing somewhere. And with Google classroom or we use Schoology like there’s a lot of like safeguards in place so that students have a copy. I have a copy. We have a lot of where did when did changes happen? When were things turned in? It just feels better to me and I keep like I said, I can’t go back, but maybe, maybe that’s you.

But this is the thing. I still found that we’re like comparing to my colleagues, the ones that did use paper. Okay, the ones that use paper for the whole process, they did not have people using ChatGPT but they had they spent so much time so much time and the students just don’t get it. So what we’re trying to do by it’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater in my opinion. It’s like using a hammer when you need like a scalpel, you know?

So I don’t think that’s the answer. Maybe this will work better for you because your teaching style was already closer to writing by hand anyway, but really, this what I’m really trying to give people here and the conversation that I want to have is how we can do things in a way that is easier for us and I really do feel like paperless is easier. Maybe not if you can’t, if you are not able to grade on the computer, in which case, nevermind, but for a lot of us I think that it’s just it’s just easier.

So I’d say if you’re in a mindset where you do use a lot that’s electronic. Let’s not go back, because I don’t think that that is the answer. It’s like it’s definitely a band aid. Regardless, it’s a band aid that will only get you so far. And it’s really at the expense of a lot because when we say that we want to use technology it’s for it’s for reasons like we’ve come to find that there are useful applications. So okay, I’ve talked a lot about that.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Need for Policy Clarity

Let’s move on to the next one. Okay, so the second thing that I think we really need to do is have clear guidelines around the use of AI. So this means that we need to for ourselves, clarify what our process or what we find acceptable and I think there’s there’s so much where students already use AI like we use AI in our daily lives. And I think to say we you can make your own decisions about how much you want to let in. But I think that it won’t only be that we have more opportunities for AI.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom Planning Toolkit

I think students will have greater access between the time that we were out of school and now there have been more of these chat interface tools. Like there’s Google Bard. There’s Bing has an AI on there. And I don’t know if anybody else did this, but I’m in the pilot. I don’t, I don’t okay, so here’s the pilot. So Google actually has now added that is embedded in Google Docs. So it’s in I haven’t tried everything, but it’s it’s definitely in Google Docs. And it’s in sheets. I think it’s in slides too.

So you can just like highlight something and say expand, it gives you some responses, and then you can just copy and paste it. So I would hope that Google wouldn’t put that in our education version. But I don’t know maybe they would. And if it’s not, this year, maybe in five years, you know, so I think that is something that we just need to keep in mind and say like this is not going to get easier, so we need to deal with it.

So think about what are the processes that you feel good about? And the ones that you don’t just make some policies around them. So that it’s clear to students. So if you’re gonna say you cannot use any generative AI, then make that clear, but I would say and I thought about this a lot over the last couple weeks. I think that my policy as long as this is going to be okay with my department and with my school.

I think my policy is going to be that it needs to be cited. And I’ll get into a little bit more of some other ideas that I have that I think I’m probably going to implement but I think having it be cited. Let students know like I know that it exists. I’m expecting you to remain responsible about it. And if you do use it, you need to tell me so that I can keep that in mind.

I think it’s going to come down to how then do I grade it? So that’s something I still need to figure out. Like, what does it mean to grade something that was written by AI? And I would expect that especially because I’m saying you have to cite it that it couldn’t just be like you’re copying and pasting something from AI and turning it in like maybe they’re using it for a outline or for I don’t know, so I think getting some, like maybe Can I get some help with rewarding this or checking grammar?

There’s a lot of things that I think might be more appropriate to use ChatGPT, maybe you’ve listened to me brainstorm that lesson. You’re like, No, I don’t want to do any of those things. And that’s fine. But I think, at least clarifying for students. These are the things that I don’t want you to do, so that they don’t have anything like when it comes out. They’re not like oh, I didn’t realize I know you didn’t want me to completely cheat. So I think that’s important.

Okay. So clear guidelines. And I think once we say that, if we do say that they can use chat GPT for various reasons. Then we introduce the idea that they have to fact check. Because like I was saying up at the top that there’s information that chat GBT doesn’t have and will just make up and not tell you that it hasn’t, that it’s not true.

Challenges of AI in the Classroom: Fact Checking

And actually I did a query the other day, where I asked it for wasn’t looking for. Oh, I was asking for short stories that weren’t that were more contemporary and had a lot of trouble. Can I come up with anything and it kept giving me answers and I’m like, um, that’s not a thing. And they’re like, Oh, so sorry. Let me give you something else and then they’ll give me something else that was made up and I said, Can you just not make things up? Like, just give me as many as you can, and then it still made things up.

So I think fact checking like once we say you can use chat GBT, then the fact checking is a part that we would teach like, that’s part of the process. So that’s something to think about as well. Um, okay. So then the next thing that I think that we need to consider is okay, so, so we can, actually so, okay, so we can make this more of part of the process.

So I was saying maybe we ask it for an outline, but maybe we give students an avenue that is guided, or AI assisted. So that would mean that we would say, Okay, if you’d like it to provide an outline, go ahead, do that. Now, show me the outline that it gave you. Just copy that chat, and put it in this document. That’s going to be part of your, like process documents that you’re giving me.

Then you say you asked ChatGPT to for some suggestions for improvement. Great. Show me that chat. Show me what you asked it. And what it gave you back. So that’s something that I think if you are really being upfront about it, like this is the process that I would like you to go through or you can go through if you choose

I want you to tell me how it’s going so that I can go back and kind of follow through and also that would help you as a teacher, if they are using the AI assistance to know where they were having trouble and where you might want to fill in going forward like okay, they had trouble with the idea generation like doing that on on their own. Alright, let’s figure out how to do that. In a way that’s not so AI assisted the next time.

So let me give you some ideas for how to go forward or you had trouble with X, Y or Z whatever that is. If you know what that asked for help for. Then you can use that in your personalization going forward. Okay, so that is something like using a chat log one suggestion that I really liked. I was listening to a business podcast, and they were talking about using ChatGpT for I think marketing copy. And what they said was what they would do is first so they would tell chat GBT, I’m about to ask you for some support for writing my marketing copy, but first I would like you to get to know my business.

So ask me 20 questions that I will answer to say that you have more information about my business to better help me write my marketing copy. And I think that this is a really interesting strategy. I tried this out 20 questions is a lot. So maybe we say five or 10 to a student but say the prompt that they’re going to start with with ChatGPT is I’m writing a essay or a whatever on prompt and give them the prompt. I’d like some support me but before I do that, before you do that for me, asked me five or 10 questions about the reading or about the prompt or whatever to help me or to help you help me.

So I think that’s a strategy to get started in. Kind of like reframing what chat GBT could be for them, so it’s not going to be a year. Giving me something that I’m just going to turn in as if it’s my own. It would be really more like a assistance. So I think that there are two ways that we want to maybe think about ChatGPT if we’re going to incorporate into the classroom. One is as an assistant like I’ve just been talking about.

The second would be as a brainstorming partner. So that would be like, give me 10 ideas about this and then it would be like using those and like okay, I have an idea, let’s go and then they would be off of ChatGPT or maybe they would go back and be like, I’m having trouble with this idea. I could go here there and then maybe ChatGPT could say like, okay, like if you do this, then this if you do that, then that so it’s able to kind of play out that scenario. So that might be a way that is depending on your comfort level, a way to go.

Alright, so those are two things. Okay, now this is we’re getting into the part where I’m very excited. Okay, so I think that what’s most important about everything related to ChatGPT and the generative AI is to make sure that students understand that it’s important and actually very dangerous to get hooked on chat GBT in a way, that they are reliant on it.

And when I say dangerous, I think that I’m not being too overdramatic here because Okay, so this is what creatives are saying so, like copy editors marketers, authors, people that make coffee for a living are saying that they do see chat GBT being important going forward indefinitely. Honestly, taking people’s jobs, maybe, but not taking everybody’s jobs.

So it’s really that actually before I get into that I’m going to talk to you about Seth Godin. Um, he has been a little bit on a tear but he’s been talking about how, what’s what chat JpT will do is replace the mediocre.

What that means is that people that are at this level, this mediocre level, like what ChatGPT gives is mediocre. It’s like average, it’s fine. So if that’s where you are, not you, you are awesome, but anybody that is giving mediocre work, that’s what you’re replaceable. And I think that’s a little it’s a kind of scary place for people that are not doing not awesome.

But so I think that that leads to an opportunity for us I guess this is why like, I sound a little bit like sadistic now that I’ve said that this is what I’m excited about. But what I’m excited about is helping students to understand their own unique and creative selves. Because that’s, that’s what gets me excited, is helping them to know that and now there’s like this impetus like it’s it’s not just oh, I’d like that because it’s fun. And it’s, it’s great for you to be yourself and to be able to express that.

It’s, they have to know if they want a job, you know. I mean, people people will have jobs. Well, we’ll figure out how it goes. But, I mean, some some of the jobs are going to be feeding the AI some of the but but I think it’s a real a real situation to think about that. The there will be jobs that are displaced due to the rise in the eye. That’s just a fact. Right? I think that’s what we’re all about.

We’re about helping students to get to the heart and soul of a piece figuring out what makes it tick, replicating that bringing our own unique spin. And I think that’s just it’s gotten me so excited. So I think that Okay, so this brings me to, this is what I’m excited about, but I was so excited that I decided to make you some things. I made a lot of different pieces that I want to share with you. So what I was just talking about this, this need for people to be more individualized or individual like be themselves and show their humanity.

That is, I think where we want to start. We want to start with that idea that our students need to find and share their humanity because that’s what makes them unique. So it’s those things like that, that like spark that. You know, real, authentic self. That’s what we need to find for them or help them find and express. And that’s that’s what that’s what we got this for right.

So what I did was, I made you a unit that I’m giving you for free that gets at that that helps you to work with your students to set the tone. I imagined it or imagined it being delivered at the beginning of the year. So it’s setting the stage for this is what I’m expecting out of you and our classroom and our time together, that we find what makes us unique and special.

And we’ll celebrate that we’ll celebrate that in the works that we read, and the writing that we do and the projects that you create, because it’s very important because of the future world that you are going to live in the jobs that you are going to have. You need to be able to do that. So those are the skills that we’re going to work on.

So that unit, like I said, it’s completely free. And I’ll put a link in the show notes. I hope that everybody grabs it. The second thing that I mentioned before, I believe but I’ll say it again, is I’ve also made you a toolkit and this toolkit. I am pretty darn excited about this as well. So this is something that you can use to clarify your attitude towards AI in the classroom.

I think there are a lot of different aspects to think about. So this toolkit kind of walks you through this. It has a lot of fun pieces and has a quiz that you can take a little self assessment. It has some case studies for you to work through some discussion questions that you can use on your own or I think they would work really well in a in a collaborative team are in a department with your best English friends.

I think that would that would be really fun in a really nerdy English way. So there’s that toolkit. It also has a challenge a seven day challenge that you could use in the lead up to school if you choose and a what’s it called a little bit of a template for you to craft your own policies towards AI that you can use in your classroom this coming year. So I hope that you are able to use those tools.

Remember, I will put those in the show notes and I would love to hear what you’re thinking about what I’ve put forward what you’re thinking about AI in your classroom how it went for you last year. What you’re going to change out for next year.

As I said, I think that this is really exciting and we have we have a lot of opportunities. And I think that we should take those like what was frustrating about last year and kind of turn it on its head so that we can really get our students engaged and thinking about the future. That’s it, and thanks for sticking around and I will talk to you next time.

Resources to Address Challenges of AI in the Classroom

ChatGPT and English Classroom Planning Download

I’d love to talk with you more about your ideas for addressing challenges of AI in the classroom. What are your plans? What are you still working through? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me @englishclassroomarchitect on Instagram.

More About Anti-Burnout for English Teachers

Are you wanting a classroom strategy that keeps you energized and joyful but want tools and resources to make teaching high school English more manageable? It’s possible, and I’ll share what I’ve learned through my years of trial and error. Let’s build a better classroom!

5. The REAL Reason We Need to Talk About ChatGPT: The Opportunities and Challenges of AI in the Classroom
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