3 Ways to Rethink Instruction in the Age of AI

AI has burst on the scene within the last year, concerning educators immensly. In this post, I discuss 3 ways to rethink instruction in the age of AI.

Last time, we discussed 4 Ways to Use ChatGPT to Your Advantage as teachers. Today I want to discuss the implications of AI for classroom instruction. Let’s consider 3 ways to rethink instruction in the age of AI.

Sounds ominous, right? The Age of AI. It’s the first in a dystopian trilogy followed by AI Strikes Back and AI Triumphant

But it’s all about how we frame it, right?

I was fortunate enough to attend the AP Conference last week in Seattle. There was a panel discussing the future of education and AI. I was surrounded by immensly smart, reflective, and forward-thinking people.

One world-language teacher asked the panel a poigniant question:

“What’s your metaphor for AI?”

Some answers were translators, calculators, Wikipedia, pocket knives, performace-enhancing drug…

No teacher mentioned the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, but it seemed to be on everyone’s mind.

I think having a metaphor is crucial in how we approach this new age of education.

If we approach it from a dystopian metaphor, we run the risk of fearing it, banning it, and ignoring it. That would be a disservice to our students, who will need to become AI literate in order to compete in the emerging economy.

So, let’s talk about…

3 Ways to Rethink Instruction in the Age of AI

1. Rethink Your Metaphor

I would love to give the world language teacher credit for this one, but I promptly lost his card. I’m hoping he’ll reach out to me.

Metaphors are key in developing frameworks. Framework shapes perception. Perception shapes how and even if we’ll use the powerful abilities of AI in instruction. And we must use it if we don’t want to leave our students behind.

AI has burst on the scene within the last year, concerning educators immensly. In this post, I discuss 3 ways to rethink instruction in the age of AI.

They’re going to use it anyway, whether we forbid it or not. We want them to be able to use it as a starting point. As part of the learning process. Left to their own devices, it’ll be the entire process.

We must guide them away from confusing AI generation with creation.

Framework: AI generates, they evaluate and create.

My metaphor from the start has been the calculator. I know math teachers far and wide thought of the calculator as the death knell of math skills, but it wasn’t.

2. Rethink the Role of Process

This leads us to the role of process in learning. I remember in grad school, one of my professors told me, “We can’t see the process. We can only evaluate the product.”

This was true at the time, but like the savvy math teachers before us, we need to find ways to have students “show their work” in our subjects.

We need to find ways to evaluate the process.

To do that, the process needs to become visible to us. It needs to be laid out and happen in the classroom.

Brainstorming can begin with AI. AI can even generate a sample product. We need to teach students strategies for evaluating AI generation and for using it as a tool in their creative process.

3. Rethink What Product Is

One of the teachers on the AI panel was Tim Towslee.

Towslee said, “If we give students assignments that can be done by a machine, maybe we need to rethink those assignments.”

Wow. That’s something I’ll consider from now on in my instructional practices.

It’s no wonder that Towslee’s metaphor is a pocket knife. As a scout leader that makes sense for him. He teaches scouts how to use a pocket knife as a tool in the wilderness. It can enable necessary tasks to happen more quickly and with more ease. It can also enable survival in some cases.

Classroom teachers should teach students to use AI as a tool in their learning. We should be clear that AI doesn’t create–it generates. People create, and it’s up to the creator to sift through, evaluate, and build on that generation.

Something else we should consider that Towslee said: “If the basic learning can be done by AI, they can focus on more complicated questions.”

It will be imperrative to take our questioning to a higher-level. Open-ended, DOK levels 3 and 4 must by necessity replace basic recall.

We must devise ways for students to show us their thinking. Show us their process.

I want to open a discussion for practical ways to do that. I invite you to comment here or shoot me an email at leah@leahcleary.com. I’ll be posting about this a lot over the next school year!

AI has burst on the scene within the last year, concerning educators immensly. In this post, I discuss 3 ways to rethink instruction in the age of AI.
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