“Exploring ChatGPT: Innovative Ways to Integrate AI Chatbots into Middle and High School Curriculum”

As an educational specialist who works closely with colleagues in all subject areas, I want to encourage teachers to consider the impact of tools like ChatGPT. Just as math teachers had to adjust their teaching methods when calculators became widely used, English and social studies teachers must also adapt their instruction now that AI tools are readily available to students.

In December 2022, there was a surge in articles and discussions about the implications of ChatGPT and similar tools in education. Some expressed concerns, while others pointed out the limitations of the current tool configuration. I recently spoke to our division’s technology director about the conversations happening in professional circles regarding these AI tools.

Our conversation raised numerous questions without clear answers. However, when he asked about my philosophy on ChatGPT and similar tools, I responded with a strong statement: “If I could go back in time, I would prevent the invention of such things.”

My response may have revealed my Luddite tendencies. I prefer simple technology, like a watch that tells time or a Nokia phone. However, I acknowledged that ChatGPT is already a part of our classrooms and emphasized the importance of finding ways to incorporate AI tools while still nurturing critical thinking skills.

Here are some suggestions for integrating AI tools into our classes while maintaining and strengthening critical thinking:

Prompt dissection

Zeynep Tufekci, an opinion writer for the New York Times and associate professor, warns about the potential for inaccuracies in AI-generated content, describing it as a “high-quality intellectual snow job.” In a social studies classroom, students can create a prompt and analyze the machine’s response in detail to identify inconsistencies and reinforce their understanding of the topic.

Find the biases

Students can generate prompts on various related topics and examine them for inaccuracies or biases. Since AI tools like ChatGPT are trained on existing data, they may reflect the biases inherent in the training data. This exercise helps students recognize these blind spots and encourages them to seek a multiplicity of viewpoints in their work.

Spot the computer essay

John Warner, a blogger for Inside Higher Ed and author, highlights the limitations of AI-generated writing. In a language arts classroom, students can compare human writing with AI-generated writing and discuss the differences in voice, nuance, and passion. This exercise enhances students’ ability to identify the unique qualities of human-generated content.

Use primary sources and first-person accounts

Assignments that require students to interview individuals and connect their experiences to texts provide more opportunities for student writing. This approach ensures that students use their own language to express their understanding and prevents them from relying solely on machine-generated prompts.

Compare two readings

Peter Greene, a senior writer for Forbes magazine and an experienced English teacher, suggests assigning students to compare and contrast literary works, focusing on lesser-known or unconventional pairings. This task encourages students to demonstrate their learning, make connections, and engage in meaningful analysis. AI-generated analysis is limited by the available internet sources and may not cover unique or rare content.

Expect classroom discussion to be used as a resource

As Peter Greene proposes, classroom discussions can become part of the texts students consider. By treating classroom conversations as valuable sources of information and perspectives, students will actively participate and take note of important points. This approach promotes authentic writing and critical thinking.

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Beth McMurtrie emphasizes the importance of essay writing in developing research skills, critical thinking, and persuasive expression. These skills will be even more crucial in the age of AI. Instead of ignoring the presence of AI tools, we should prepare our students to navigate the current world and the future.

I may still prefer listening to records, though.

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