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Why Try AI?

At the Friday Institute, the PLLC team is committed to finding and sharing innovations that make teaching both more impactful and manageable. One such innovation is the use of generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, and I’d like to share how this has transformed the work of a teacher I work with.

This dedicated special education teacher friend spent countless hours creating progress monitoring tailored to each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals. The diversity of needs meant crafting unique questions and multiple-choice answers for every goal, which was as time-consuming as critical. However, with ChatGPT’s assistance, the teacher and I were able to input the monitored skills, provide context and quickly receive customized questions and answers. This has slashed the time needed for creating assessments, freeing up hours for actual teaching.

We didn’t need a computer science background to see remarkable outcomes. We found that using a simple framework known as RAFT—Role, Audience, Format and Topic—to guide our interactions with ChatGPT provides solid results. We specify the Role we want the AI to assume, describe our Audience, clarify the Format for the material we need and state the Topic or standards we’re addressing. This straightforward approach has consistently yielded practical and relevant materials.

For instance, when struggling to teach figurative language, we used RAFT to direct ChatGPT to create hands-on activities. The AI tailored activities to our student audience, in the format we required, and focused on our specific learning objectives. The results were a suite of engaging activities that capitalized on the students’ strengths while reinforcing their understanding of the subject matter. For a summative assessment, we instructed ChatGPT to create a culminating activity based on those same objectives. ChatGPT delivered—providing teacher directions, student instructions, handouts and a model example of the assignment. It even anticipated potential stumbling blocks, allowing us to preemptively smooth out any issues.

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, when guided by the RAFT strategy, can be a powerful ally in education, helping teachers to not just cope with the workload but to enrich the teaching and learning experience significantly. This technology is invaluable in freeing time for teachers to do what they do best—teach.

AI’s Role in Teaching Enhancement

The potential of AI extends across various aspects of teaching:

  • Lesson Personalization: Tailoring content to the class and individual learners.
  • Concept Simplification: Breaking down complex topics for better understanding.
  • Resource Creation: Designing worksheets, quizzes and handouts quickly.
  • Interdisciplinary Integration: Merging concepts from different subjects for a richer learning experience.
  • Example Provision: Offering practical, curriculum-linked examples.
  • Obstacle Anticipation: Identifying and planning for possible learning challenges.

By assuming these tasks, AI allows educators to focus on what’s irreplaceable—the human connection in teaching.

Navigating AI’s Limitations

As promising as AI is, awareness of its potential errors and biases is essential. Before integrating AI tools like ChatGPT into the classroom, educators should familiarize themselves with its capabilities and limitations. Our aim is not to replace the human touch crucial in education but to give teachers more capacity for it. Generative AI can be an ally in reducing workload and enhancing the educational experience, but teachers must carefully vet all AI-generated material to ensure its accuracy and appropriateness for students.

Generative AI is becoming an invaluable tool in education, not as a substitute for teachers but as a support that allows them to devote more time to what truly matters—teaching. As we continue to explore and share these innovations, we invite educators to join us in harnessing the power of AI to enrich the learning journey for teachers and students.

For those interested in diving deeper into the world of AI in education, consider joining the Friday Institute’s webinar series “AI with the FI: From Awareness to Advocacy.”

Amy Walter is a lifelong learner and teacher, and her passion for education is evident in her dedication to creating a future where every teacher is a master of their craft, sparking a love of learning in every student, and driving academic excellence through innovative and dynamic professional development designed and delivered with passion.