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How Educators Can Use AI in the Classroom

What in the world is AI, and what is it doing in my classroom? This is the question educators around the world have been debating since the release of some of the newest AI tools. (More on these in a minute!)

When you think about artificial intelligence in the classroom, do you picture robots walking around the classroom and taking over your job as the teacher?

It would be nice to have a robot there to tie kids’ shoes, submit your attendance, and clean up the classroom at the end of the day!

Well, AI tools in education haven’t come quite that far yet, but they have made some exciting progress. There are many benefits to us as educators (hello time-saving AI tools for teachers!), and beneficial for our students who are preparing for a future that will undoubtedly be driven by AI.

Here’s the good news. We can learn to use AI tools to save us time and make the learning experience more meaningful for students.

And if you’ve used Alexa or Siri, you’ve already used AI tools! (See? You’re practically an expert already.)

Read on to learn more and be sure to download our free Ultimate Prompts List & Teacher’s Guide to ChatGPT printable e-book here!

How do AI tools work?

Alexa and Siri are both examples of AI-powered virtual assistants. They use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand and respond to voice commands and questions from users.

AI is embedded in a lot of the tools we already use on a day-to-day basis, like scheduling apps, driving recommendations, facial recognition, and much more!

These AI tools have the ability to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, like understanding natural language and making decisions.

When a user asks Alexa to play a specific song or asks Siri for the weather forecast, both virtual assistants use NLP to understand the user’s request and then use ML algorithms to find the appropriate information and respond to the user’s request.

The coolest part is that these virtual assistants are able to learn from their interactions with users and improve their ability to understand and respond to requests over time.

This capability is one of the most interesting parts about AI- the ability of the system to adapt and improve with time and data. (Yes, that means the machine actually learns. Pretty amazing, right?)

How can AI be used in the classroom?

AI tools can be used for personalized learning, tutoring, language learning, assessing student progress, classroom management, and enhancing collaboration.

These tools can automate repetitive tasks, provide teachers with real-time insights, and help students learn at their own pace. AI tools can also improve student engagement, increase classroom efficiency and provide individualized feedback and support.

In other words, AI tools can automate some of the tasks that take a ton of your time as a teacher, so you can spend more time doing the things that actually move the needle for students- like teaching, conferencing with students, and all the other things you do throughout the school day.

Here are just a few ways AI tools can be used in the classroom to support students:

Personalized Learning: AI-powered personalized learning platforms can create customized lesson plans and assignments for each student based on their learning needs and abilities.

These tools can help your students direct the next steps in their learning. (And that’s without all the time it typically takes you to assess, give meaningful feedback, and guide them toward the next learning goal.)

This can be especially useful for students who may be struggling with a particular concept or skill. With AI tools, students can receive those “just right” supports more easily.

Here’s one example of how AI can power personalized learning for students:

If you have young kids, you’ve probably seen a TV commercial featuring Ello, “the world’s first virtual reading coach that works with real books”. Ello sends your child books based on their reading level, then uses an app to read with your child.

Ello uses patent-pending speech recognition and adaptive learning technology to engage with your child while they develop critical reading skills. Ello listens to your child read from real books, teaches and motivates them, and transforms them into enthusiastic readers.
Using AI in the classroom as a reading tutor
Ello’s AI-Powered Reading Tutor

Language Learning: AI-powered language learning apps and programs can provide students with interactive and immersive experiences, helping them to improve their language skills.

With AI-powered language learning tools, students can have a more engaging and interactive learning experience, which can lead to better retention and understanding of the language.

Here’s an example of a language AI tool in the classroom at work:

Imagine you had a student in your class learning English as a second language. You need to support your student in acquiring new vocabulary words, but this will take a lot of time.

  • Assess students’ current vocabulary knowledge.
  • Research vocabulary words.
  • Find research-based strategies to teach the new vocabulary words effectively.
  • Assess your student again to understand which vocabulary words have been retained.

With an AI tool like the app Knowji, you can utilize a built-in memory coach who assures each word is maintained and stored in long-term memory before moving forward.

Knowji keeps track of your learning progress for each word, and it brings back words you are struggling with more frequently than others. It also uses a spaced repetition algorithm that anticipates when you’re about to forget a word and prompts you to drill again before you’re about to forget it. This ensures long-term memory retention of everything you’ve learned.

How do teachers use AI in education?

An educator’s to-do list is a mile long, or more! AI can help cut down on the time it takes to perform certain tasks, and it can streamline tasks such as organizing and scheduling.

AI tools can help save time and allow teachers to focus on the areas they’re needed most. (Working with students!)

5 ways AI tools can save teachers time:

Classroom Management: AI-powered tools can help teachers manage the classroom by providing real-time insights into student engagement and behavior.

With AI-powered classroom management tools, teachers can have a better understanding of how students are engaging with the material and can intervene if needed.

Assessing student progress: AI-powered assessment tools can help educators quickly and accurately evaluate student progress. They can get valuable insights into areas where students may need additional support.

Educators can have real-time data on student progress, which can be used to adjust instruction and provide targeted support.

Enhancing collaboration: AI tools can also be used to enhance collaboration among students, for example, through the use of chatbots that can facilitate group discussions or projects.

With AI-powered collaboration tools, students can work together more effectively and efficiently, which can lead to better learning outcomes.

AI tools can be used to enhance collaboration by:

  • Helping to form well-balanced student groupings
  • Recognizing patterns in student participation
  • Identify learning gaps

Check out this AI tool to enhance student collaboration:

Packback Questions is an inquiry-driven discussion platform.

On Packback, students ask the discussion questions, giving students a space to develop their ideas, take an active role in learning, and practice writing.

Packback’s A.I. Instant Feedback and Moderation ensure that the discussion stays on track, helping educators spend less time managing the discussion and more time engaging with students.
How Packback Works

Generating content: Have you heard of ChatGPT? It can help you create engaging and interactive content for the classroom, such as interactive quizzes, simulations, and games… in just a minute or two! With AI-powered content generation, teachers can create engaging and interactive materials.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art language model that uses machine learning to understand and generate human language. It’s trained on a vast amount of text data and it uses that knowledge to generate human-like responses to questions or prompts.

How can teachers use ChatGPT in the classroom?

ChatGPT can be useful in a variety of applications such as natural language processing, automated writing, and chatbot development.

It’s a powerful AI tool that can help with tasks such as summarizing text, translating languages, and even generating creative writing. It can simulate human-like communication and understanding.

Try out this ChatGPT prompt:

  • Head to ChatGPT and create a free login.
  • Type the following prompt into ChatGPT: “Write 5 math problems for fifth-grade students. The math problems should give students practice with multiplying and dividing fractions. The word problems should feature characters with the names [name 1], [name 2], and [name 3].

Example response, given by ChatGPT in just a few seconds:

Using AI in the classroom to write math problems

Your students will love these word problems, especially if they feature student names! This is just one example of how you can use ChatGPT to create content for students. We love using it to generate poems, reading passages, and even templates for report card comments!

We created a Teacher’s Guide to Using ChatGPT to save time in the classroom, and it comes with a giant spreadsheet of prompts and ideas for you. Download it for FREE here!

25 ways to use ChatGPT in the classroom:

  1. Generate a list of vocabulary words based on a reading passage
  2. Write a classroom newsletter based on upcoming events and projects
  3. Generate individual spelling lists based on a student’s test results
  4. Generate a reading passage for a certain grade level
  5. Create a template for report card comments
  6. Generate prompts for a debate
  7. Create writing prompts on a given topic
  8. Generate discussion questions for a passage
  9. Summarize a passage
  10. Create assessment questions based on given material
  11. Create a game or activity for a particular topic
  12. Generate templates for feedback on student work (essays!)
  13. Generate templates for IEP goals
  14. Create lesson plans based on a list of information/activities you provide
  15. Generate discussion prompts from a given passage
  16. Generating writing samples for students to revise
  17. Give a simple explanation for complex topics
  18. Write a set of directions for a task
  19. Generate activity ideas based on a topic
  20. Translate a text into another language
  21. Generate discussion questions based on a book
  22. Generate a short story featuring a certain character or plot idea
  23. Generate music from song lyrics
  24. Generate song lyrics to the tune of a familiar song
  25. Summarize and organize large sets of data

A few words of caution when using ChatGPT in the classroom:

We go into detail on how ChatGPT works, along with the pros and cons for its use in the classroom, in our Teachers’ Guide to Using ChatGPT in the Classroom.

There are a few important points you won’t want to miss:

  • ChatGPT is often inaccurate. We suggest assuming the results are not accurate and fact-checking everything. ChatGPT is a language model. Think of it as your pretty creative virtual assistant. It is NOT designed to produce factual information.
  • Never enter student data into the model. This is a given, for student privacy!
  • ChatGPT can exhibit biased content.
  • ChatGPT is only updated on content prior to 2021. You can enter your own set of data to “train” your model, but it will not produce timely content as is.

Concluding Thoughts

AI in the classroom is not as futuristic as it seems. It’s already made progress in providing benefits to educators and students!

AI tools, like virtual assistants, use natural language processing and machine learning to understand and respond to user requests, and they can learn and adapt over time.

As educators, it’s important to understand the capabilities and potential of AI tools in order to take advantage of their benefits and prepare our students for a future that will be driven by AI.

Loved this bite-sized professional development on innovative practices in education? Check out more 10-minute FREE on-demand PD classes here.