Could AI ChatGPT Lead to Better Student Learning Tasks? | Steve Barkley

Could AI ChatGPT Lead to Better Student Learning Tasks?

Blogs and podcasts about ChatGPT are a constant in feeds on my computer each day. I am expecting that soon, if not already, instructional coaches, administrators, and teacher leaders will be facilitating conversations about problems and opportunities impacting teaching and learning. Will Richardson in his free, new online book, One Foot in the Future describes the challenge.

Chat GPT

ChatGPT chatbot by OpenAI – artificial intelligence

“All of which means that for educators tracking these trends, none of this feels remotely comfortable. These tools and technologies are already challenging what we do and how we do it. Huge swaths of current practice and pedagogy are going to have to be interrogated for how effective and how relevant they are in helping our students understand and navigate a landscape that continues to change at light speed.

Here is a podcast that the Western Academy Beijing has posted to update parents on their explorations with AI.

This post from Ed Week, Outsmart ChatGPT: 8 Tips for Creating Assignments It Can’t Do raises the question: Can educators remove students’ temptation to use ChatGPT and other so-called “large language models” to plagiarize by coming up with assignments that the ChatGPT won’t be able to handle? If yes, what might those assignments look like?

As I examined the tips, I identified that they were the same strategies one would explore to increase student investment and engagement in learning prior to an AI presence.


  • Ask students to write about something deeply personal.

That reminded me of a podcast I had recorded with Erica Benson about her strategies for argumentative writing that requires listening. She begins with asking students to consider, “What breaks your heart about the world?” She requires their writing to humanize the people with views that differ from theirs. Find out more here.

  • Center a writing assignment around an issue specific to the local community.
  • Direct students to write about a very recent news event.

Teachers could ask students to compare a very recent news event to a historical one, say the balloon that was reportedly sent by the Chinese government to spy on the United States with the Cuban missile crisis. Connecting to the local community increases the opportunity to have students connect with “real people.” I explored this impact in an earlier blog.

We can help students gain a true sense of real-world, meaningful application of what they’re learning in class, by connecting them with real people from their community. The key is to invite guests who live in the same neighborhood as students and who reflect their ethnicity and experiences. Studying square footage? Invite a local contractor to join you in your next class meeting. Studying story plot? Bring in the local reporter. (Be sure to have the students read some of the reporter’s stories in advance, to provide context.) You won’t need to go far to find people—start by asking your students or colleagues if they know someone who fits what you’re looking for. When students meet living examples of people from their community, they connect what they’re learning in class with what they need to know for the ‘real world,’ all while helping them create a clearer vision for their future.” (Education Week)

  • Have students show or explain their work.
  • Ask students to give an oral presentation, along with the written work

In math class, students usually show how they arrived at a particular answer to get credit for solving a problem. That concept could apply to writing. For instance, teachers could prompt students to detail their brainstorming process, explaining why they choose to write about a particular topic. Teachers could also ask questions such as: ‘How did you decide to structure your paper this way?’ That could just hold students to be more accountable for their process of writing.

Students’ live or video clip explanations of their process and product leads to greater accountability and greater learning.

  • Students high schoolPut project-based learning to work.

As an example, “several school districts explored water quality in different parts of the country for a social studies course, looking at different policies in different states and cities. They tested the water in their own communities, looking for contaminants. Then they created graphs and charts showing the impact of local policies on local water supplies and presented their findings. ChatGPT was never going to do that project for them. It would be impossible to cheat on that project with it. And the kids didn’t want to cheat because they were doing something really cool and interesting and relevant to their lives. If students are taking pride in their work, they don’t want a robot to write it.”

While the presence of ChatGPT may require different tasks (assignments) to engage students in the necessary learning behaviors, it can also provide students with new empowered learning opportunities. Consider students providing the following prompt:
Create a 20-question quiz to practice probability calculations for high school students. The questions should get progressively more difficult. Give the answers at the end of the text. (From ChatGPT and the application of A.I. in education: prompts and possibilities)

Learners generating such assessment/feedback tasks, as and when they are most useful, can self-direct their own exploration and practice. (Empowered learners) Larry Ferlazzo writing in Education Week provides a look at 19 ways to use ChatGPT in classrooms.

I’d love to hear what conversations are emerging in your coaching and professional learning activities concerning the requirements and the possibilities of these new technologies to maximize learning.

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