GenAI: Your Ultimate Teaching Assistant!

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GenAI: Your Ultimate Teaching Assistant! 

Leveraging GenAI for Efficiency and Productivity

What’s Included in This Post?
• Timesaving ideas using GenAI
• Sample prompts

 

During my 28 years of high school teaching, I always had students who became my go to classroom assistants. It was always the trustworthy kid who had the extra time and willingness to help me out with day-to-day tasks like classroom organization, bulletin board creation, office deliveries, and trips to the faculty drink machine for the morning Diet Coke. As teachers, we know how helpful these efficient students are when completing these necessary, but time-consuming tasks. Now with AI, we can have efficient helpers not just in 4th period, but at any time we need them. Generative AI (GenAI) is the new classroom assistant that will increase your productivity and efficiency when building a Canvas course.

While many of the discussions about GenAI (like ChatGPT, Bard, and Claude) center on academic integrity, the benefits of saving instructors’ time cannot be ignored. In seconds, these AI assistants can develop outlines, generate outcomes, create learning materials, brainstorm ideas, write assessments, and evaluate student work. But, just like the work of teen classroom assistants, AI-generated resources may not be 100 percent accurate. It is important to remember that AI is not the teacher in the room and lacks the professional judgment needed to cull and curate learning materials. 

The quality of the AI-generated content relies on the specificity of the prompt. The prompt must include detailed information such as grade level, textbook information, timeframe, learning outcomes, and course modality. After providing course details, ask for a specific end product. To further refine the GenAI’s output, continue the requests as if you’re having a conversation with a student helper. At a recent Friday SLO Talk sponsored by the California Outcomes Assessment Coordinator’s Hub, Zola Aponte shared a series of prompts she used to generate a lesson plan. These prompts show not only the specificity needed, but the series of requests required to shape the responses. Additionally, according to Aponte, adding a phrase like, “make sure the information is factual and not fabricated” will help to improve the quality of the output. 

Below is a list of course-building and course-facilitating tasks that can be streamlined by the use of GenAI. Ready to put GenAI to work? Let's look at a variety of tasks that can help you save time.

Generate Course Content

Researching and finding learning materials beyond the textbook is a time-consuming task.  Streamline this process by asking GenAI to provide lists of resources that might include articles, videos, and websites on any given topic. In the prompt, state the desired reading or grade level to produce a list of resources aligned with your students’ abilities. Educators can also request explanations, case studies, or examples related to the lesson’s topic. Further, GenAI can generate a list of questions for the learning resources selected.  Use these materials while building Canvas modules.  

To see what resources GenAI would provide, I used the following prompt to gather resources for a third grade geography lesson based on a specific standard: 

“I’m preparing a lesson for the Mississippi standard 3.G.1., third grade. Please provide me with a list of articles, videos, and websites suitable for this level of students. Also include a list of short answer questions that cover all of the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.” The response included the following: 

Articles: 

  1. National Geographic Kids- Mississippi Facts for Kids
  2. Kids Discover- Mississippi: A State of Many Cultures
  3. Ducksters- Mississippi: Geography & Climate

Videos: 

  1. The Mississippi River for Kids” SciShow Kids
  2. Explore the States: Mississippi”- National Geographic Kids
  3. Mississippi State Song”- Have fun with a catchy tune about the state!

Websites: 

  1. Kids.gov- Mississippi State Facts for Kids
  2. Mississippi Department of Archives and History- Educational Resources
  3. Mississippi Kids- Interactive Learning Games 

Questions: 

  1. What is the capital city of Mississippi?
  2. Can you name three different geographical features found in Mississippi? 
  3. How does the Mississippi River contribute to the state’s geography and history? 
  4. Describe the climate of Mississippi.  How does it affect the people living there? 
  5. Why is the Mississippi Delta region important for agriculture in the state?

Brainstorm Ideas for Learning

GenAI can provide different ways for students to interact with content and demonstrate learning. It is often difficult to develop a variety of ideas for formative and summative assessments. Use GenAI to generate lesson activities and assessments that meet individual student needs. In the prompt, provide the learning outcomes and ask it to scaffold a list of three activities that lead up to a final assessment on a chosen topic.  Follow-up with a request for a list of final project ideas. Leverage the variety of options it provides to align with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) best practices as you build assignments, quizzes, and discussions in Canvas.

PRO TIP: It's important to conduct a continuing conversation with GenAI using a series of prompts.  Each prompt will further refine GenAI's responses. 

 

Assist in Grading and Evaluating

Use GenAI as your grading assistant. First, ask it to create the assignment’s rubric. To do so, write a prompt that includes a description of the assignment, grade level, the grading criteria, and ratings. Request that the generated answer be in the form of a table. The table format will make it easy to copy and paste content into a Canvas rubric.  I used the following prompt: 

“I am creating a grading rubric to assess a tenth grade writing assignment. Use the ratings: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, and below expectations.  I will be grading the paper based on the following criteria: organization, support with examples, voice, and grammar.  Generate a rubric that provides descriptions for each criteria and rating. Your answer should be in table form.”

Once you create the rubric, use GenAI to help evaluate student writing. To do so, copy and paste the essay text into a prompt along with the grading criteria. Ask GenAI to evaluate the writing based on the information provided. Be sure not to include any identifying student information. Edit and use this generated response as needed.

Provide Practice for Students Who Need Additional Help

For students who need more support in any course modality, recruit GenAI to act as a helpful tutor.  These additional supports might include: 

  • Creating multiple-choice questions 
  • Outlining readings and other content 
  • Breaking down content into smaller learning chunks 
  • Creating quizzes so students can test themselves
  • Providing feedback on written assignments

Final Thoughts

GenAI stands as a remarkable teacher's helper, streamlining course development and student support, ultimately enhancing efficiency for educators. How are you using GenAI as your teacher assistant? 

Reference: Aponte, Z. (2023, October). Canvas in the Era of AI. Friday Slo Talk. Virtual; Virtual.

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