Don’t ban ChatGPT in schools. Learn with it.

Don’t ban ChatGPT in schools.  Learn with it.

Cherie Shields, a high school English teacher in Oregon, told me that she had recently assigned students in one of her classes to use ChatGPT to create outlines for their essays comparing and contrasting two 19th-century short stories that touch on about gender and mentality. health: “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Once the outlines were generated, her students put down their laptops and wrote their essays by hand.

The process, she said, had not only deepened the students’ understanding of the stories. It had also taught them about interacting with AI models, and how to coax a useful response out of one.

“They have to understand, ‘I need this to make a record of X, Y and Z,’ and they have to think very carefully about that,” Shields said. “And if they don’t get the result they want, they can always revise it.”

Creating outlines is just one of many ways ChatGPT can be used in the classroom. It can write personalized lesson plans for each student (“explain Newton’s laws of motion to a visual-spatial student”) and generate ideas for classroom activities (“write a script for a ‘Friends’ episode that takes place at the Constitutional Convention”). . It can function as an after-work tutor (“explain the Doppler effect, use language an eighth grader could understand”) or a debate sparring partner (“convince me that animal testing should be banned”). It can be used as a starting point for in-class exercises, or a tool for English language learners to improve their basic writing skills. (The teacher blog Ditch That Textbook has a long list of possible classroom uses for ChatGPT.)

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Even ChatGPT’s faults – such as the fact that the answers to factual questions are often wrong – can be food for critical thinking. Several teachers told me that they had asked their students to try to trip ChatGPT, or to evaluate the answers the way a teacher would evaluate a student’s.

ChatGPT can also help teachers save time preparing for class. Jon Gold, an eighth-grade history teacher at Moses Brown School, a pre-K through 12th grade Quaker school in Providence, RI, said he had experimented with using ChatGPT to generate quizzes. He fed the bot an article about Ukraine, for example, and asked it to generate 10 multiple-choice questions that could be used to test students’ understanding of the article. (Of those 10 questions, he said, six were usable.)

Ultimately, Mr. Gold said, ChatGPT was not a threat to student learning as long as teachers paired it with meaningful discussions in class.

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