We often fear the unknown, and this is certainly the case with AI technology. Maybe we’ve seen too many movies in which the robots take over. Maybe we fear, rightfully so, that new technology will lead to making some of our careers obsolete. Maybe we fear, though we hate to admit, that we will never get the hang of the new technology. Whatever our fear, as educators, we have to prepare ourselves and our students for a rapidly changing world. Tasked with preparing new generations for a workforce that we may not take part in, we have to figure out how to ensure that our students are equipped with the skills they need to succeed. And along the way, we can make sure that the new technology will be used to create equitable workplaces. Therefore, this blog post features a few equitable ways educators can use ChatGPT in their classrooms.
Whether it’s the elementary or secondary education classroom, writing is one of the most important skills that educators are required to teach their students. Writing comes with a lot of anxiety for our students, and we can help alleviate the stress with this latest technology. ChatGPT can be used at every stage of the writing process to show students the best (and worst) writing practices. Here are a few examples to inspire your next writing unit:
- Brainstorming: ChatGPT can be used to help the students narrow down their topics after a brainstorming session. Students can write down as many topics that interest them and input their top four choices in the program. They can collaborate with the system to narrow down the most engaging topic for their essay. It’s important to stress with students that they are collaborating with the system. It is their writing partner; it is not writing the essay for them. It is another tool that can help them write effectively.
- Thesis statements: Students dread thesis statements because they often feel like their opinions on a topic don’t matter, or they won’t have enough evidence to support their argument. Using ChatGPT, they can test out their thesis statements. If their argument makes sense, the program will begin working on their essay. This is where you stop and remind them that this should simply be used as feedback that they have a good thesis statement/argument. It is their responsibility to finish the work that they started.
- Argument/Counterargument: It can be difficult for burgeoning writers to think up counterarguments. It feels like you’re arguing with yourself, and for many students, it seems like a waste of time. Using ChatGPT as a tool to “argue with themselves” about a certain topic can help students come up with better arguments for their paper. The AI serves as the naysayer in their audience who needs better evidence to agree with the writer. Students can select 2 or 3 of ChatGPT’s counterarguments to address in their essays.
- Identifying biases: Educators can use the program to create subtly biased essays to show students how to identify a writer’s bias. It must be stated that the bias should not be offensive. Bias can appear as strong support for an idea without enough evidence to support why the idea is the best. It “just is” in the mind of the biased writer. Their opinion is best, and good writers can often convince their audience that this is true without revealing the writer’s biases. This is why critical thinking is so important, and educators should use whatever tool they have access to in order to help students become better critical thinkers and bias identifiers. By becoming better critical thinkers, students will also become better writers because they will be able to articulate their ideas using research, instead of relying on their opinions and biases.
- Revision: How many of us like revising our essays? If you raised your hand or nodded your head, you are in the perfect position to help others become more comfortable with revision. If you didn’t do either, you are in good company. Revising prose can be an arduous task that requires us to admit our mistakes. Or worse, rewrite entire portions of our essays. Boo! It’s a necessary task, but it’s one that can be quite daunting. Use ChatGPT to provide students with short writing samples to practice revision. Since it’s not their “mistakes,” they may be more willing to address the issues with the writing. Educators should purposely provide ChatGPT with limited information about the writing prompt and have students address the missing pieces in the AI’s essays. Once they get the hang of revising the program’s work, they can start revising their own. It will give them a sense of accomplishment, and it will serve as a reminder that if AI can make mistakes, so can they.
These are only a few of the ways that ChatGPT can be used in the classroom. But what makes them equitable? For starters, whether they are a struggling or advanced writer, the program enables the student to complete the task with whatever support that they may need. The AI does not get frustrated, and it can decipher the student’s meaning, even when it may not be clear to the student. Struggling students will no longer feel anxious about whether their reader understands their point. The technology is designed to help them. Advanced writers can use the program as a challenge to improve their writing, particularly their argumentation. Educators can use the program to scaffold writing units to meet the needs of all students by using the AI to personalize the writing process for their students in real time. Educators can model how to use ChatGPT as a writing tool/partner to ensure that students aren’t tempted to use it to complete assignments.
We were afraid of Google once. Too much information at our fingertips without the critical thinking skills to identify the good from the bad. But we figured out how to make it useful for the classroom. We equipped our students with the critical thinking skills to differentiate between misinformation and reliable information. We can use ChatGPT to make them better writers, and we can do it in such a way that both struggling and advanced students have a sense of accomplishment at the end of an assignment. This will not be I, Robot.
Cite: “What Is ChatGPT? What to Know About the AI Chatbot,” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/chatgpt-ai-chatbot-app-explained-11675865177