Monday, February 6, 2023

Stop Freaking Out Over ChatGPT #EdChat

My feed has been swamped with all of these posts proclaiming that ChatGPT is great for education and that it will bring about the demise of education. Every take in between has been given as well. I've been around long enough to have seen this reaction with multiple tools over the years. There are plenty of people out there that are going to tell you how to use ChatGPT in your classroom or how to check and see if your students are using it to complete assignments. Much like the Force, it can be used for good or for bad. It is not all one or the other. 

Ugh.

Rather than spend a bunch of time coming up with a variety of reasons about why teachers should not worry about ChatGPT, I just had ChatGPT come up with the reasons for me. 

  1. Lack of personalization: ChatGPT, as advanced as it is, cannot replace the personal touch that a teacher brings to the classroom. A teacher’s ability to understand individual student needs, emotions, and learning styles cannot be replicated by a machine. ChatGPT may provide a quick answer, but it cannot provide the human connection and personalized support that students need to learn and grow.

  2. Limited scope of knowledge: While ChatGPT has been trained on a massive corpus of text, it is not perfect and may not always provide accurate or up-to-date information. Teachers, on the other hand, undergo extensive training and have a deep understanding of their subject matter and the curriculum. They are able to provide students with a comprehensive and well-rounded education that goes beyond just answering questions.

  3. Importance of critical thinking and problem solving: Teachers play a crucial role in fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills in their students. They do this by encouraging students to think deeply about concepts, ask questions, and engage in discussions and projects that require creativity and innovation. ChatGPT, while it may provide answers to questions, cannot facilitate the kind of hands-on learning that helps students develop these important skills. Teachers should not worry about ChatGPT as they provide a level of education and support that a machine simply cannot match.


I will throw in another reason why people should stop freaking out about ChatGPT. 

Teachers were very concerned about essay writing with the introduction of the Internet. There was this fear that students would not create an original essay every again. I always found this funny, because any teacher worth their salt can identify a plagiarized paper from a student they have had in class for a small amount of time. It is not that hard to see that a student who has written at or slightly below grade level is writing at the college level out of nowhere. While taking credit for the student's writing advancement would be nice, teachers know it came from somewhere else. Either too much "help" from a parent or from an online source. The way this was addressed in many classrooms was more in class writing assessments. Will some students beat the system and submit work they did not do? Of course they will. Students have been beating the system as long as there has been a system. The overwhelming majority of students follow the directions, do the work, and are honest about it.

The big issue that many teachers do not want to look at is WHY students would choose to be dishonest with their work. Finding the root cause might require teachers to look inward at their curriculum and overall classroom learning environment and that can be much scarier than the thought of AI taking over the teaching profession. Food for thought. 

I used AI to create an image of what AI looks like in a dystopian world. Here it is. Kind of nuts right?

Hugs and High Fives, 

Nick




Thursday, February 2, 2023

Student Podcasting with @Soundtrap #MakerEd #PBL #ELA

6th grade students had the opportunity to create their own short podcast episode to share their thoughts on a book they think other should read. These book talks are around 2 minutes long and allowed students to create some intro music using Soundtrap tools. You can find the Podcast, Stevens 6th Grade Ideas, on Spotify

The students set up their Soundtrap account, chose a book they liked from this year and had to record two versions of their Book Talk. The first version was an off the cuff take. They just needed to talk about the book and cover a few common points. The second version required the students to create a script to guide their Book Talk. Once they had both recorded, they were able to choose which one sounded better to them. From there, they created some intro and outro music and let their teacher know they were done. Stevens listened to the podcast episodes and uploaded each one to Anchor which pushes the podcast to Spotify. The lesson took three 70 minute blocks to complete. The first block was a short assignment with Soundtrap that had students create a ringtone so they could get used to the program before embarking on their podcasting adventure. 

Here are a few of the book talks you can listen to from my page, but I encourage you to head over to Spotify and listen to many of them and share them with your students if they are looking for new books to read. 

 
   
   
   
 

Thanks for listening and sharing. The students are very excited to share their thoughts with the world. 

Hugs and High Fives, 

Nick

Monday, January 23, 2023

Beyond an Hour of Code #Coding #Education

There is feeling by teachers that teaching coding is not a valuable use of time in the classroom. As standardized tests ramp up in schools across the country, many teachers find it hard to fit coding into their curriculum beyond one houri n December. The biggest misunderstanding that seems to take place around coding is the belief that EdTech is trying to turn all students into coders. This could not be further from the truth. Here are some of the real reasons why teaching coding to students is valuable. 

1. Coding supports problem-solving skills - One of the biggest things I have encountered as I learned to code as an adult was how much I depended on my problem solving skills to figure out why something was not working in my code. Coding systems will spit out errors when your type the wrong thing in the wrong place. The coder needs to find out where the problem is, why it is a problem, and how to fix it. Working through a problem toward a solution is an important skill and students need help developing it. Watching students work through their code is always interesting because you can see the wheel turn as they go line by line. This takes me to the next good reason. 

2. Attention to detail - The answer to your coding problem is always in the details. I have seen students spend many minutes trying to debug their code, but will refuse to proofread their essay before submitting it to their teacher. Teaching students the value of taking their time, checking their code for errors, and making notes on anything that needs to be fixed are skills that translate to writing. ELA classroom teachers, which I was for over 15 years, have tried to get students to make proofreading a part of their writing process. It wasn't until after I left the ELA classroom that I found that coding is how I could encourage students to proofread. Proofreading skills improve with practice and proofreading code is a must if you want your code to work. 

3. They might become a coder - The goal of using coding is not to make every student into a professional coder for the rest of their life. However, there are some students who might never have considered coding as a career if they had not had a taste of what it is like in the classroom. Women and women of color and not represented across the coding world and if there is going to be a move toward more equity in this world, more opportunities need to be given to students to explore coding in fun and engaging ways. Bringing coding into the classroom can start the move to bring balance to the coding workforce. 

4. Basic Understanding of the world - Students will take biology, chemistry, physics, etc. and families and teachers generally do not think twice about this. We are not expecting all students to become biologist, chemists, or physicists. We want students to have a basic understanding of their world. Technology has become engrained into just about every facet of our lives. It is near impossible to go about your day without needing something that has been coded. Being able to look around and understand how things work and why they work the way they do can be helpful as you navigate your world. Asking students to explore coding to obtain this understanding is something that should no longer seem like a wild idea. 

These are just a few of the reasons why bringing coding into the classroom more than just an hour a year. Building in coding as part of the curriculum will bring positive results beyond just coding knowledge. Take the time to explore coding yourself and you will see how you use your own skillset to solve problems and create code. 

Hugs and High Fives, 

Nick







Thursday, January 19, 2023

An Argument for Project-Based Learning #PBL #EdChat #Education


There are people that are still very wary of project-based learning. I understand that there are questions about why it is better than other pedagogical approaches. There are some educators that are afraid to try and add PBL to their classroom because their school/district is chained to standardized tests and the thought is that PBL doesn't prepare students for those types of assessments. I wanted to give a few reasons why PBL is worth exploring in your classroom. 

1. Active engagement - One of the things that is amazing about PBL is the fact that students are actively engaged in the process of learning. In a traditional model, students are passively receiving the information. When a student is actively engaged, they are more likely to retain the information. If standardized tests are a worry, PBL will allow students to retain more of the material covered in class. Another nice part of active engagement is the energy that comes to the classroom. There are few things better than a jumping classroom because students are actively exploring  a variety of interesting topics. 

2. Soft skill work - When students are working on their projects, they are also getting a chance to work on their soft skills. Communication, collaboration, time management, and other skills are important when working on complex projects. Students will work on these skills many times over during a year filled with projects. Again, the traditional classroom, format has everything structured for the student with very little need to work on the soft skills. A student can sit in the back of a traditional classroom all year without being actively engaged. Those soft skills are important for everyone to have as they mature and enter the workforce. 

3. Ownership - I used to tell students, "If you can't get excited for the project you chose, why on earth would you get excited about the one I choose?" When students choose their project, they have a sense of ownership of their work. They take more pride in it and they commit to the ins and outs of it. There are times when students need to jump through hoops and complete mandated work, but that is true for most people in their jobs. Doing the boring stuff is required so you can do the fun stuff. When the students get to choose what the fun project is going to be, they take full ownership of it and get to work. 

4. Class culture - Classroom culture is important in every school. Creating a community of learners is not easy task. I noticed how students all came together during their different projects. They supported one another and offered feedback and cheered each other one when it was time to present. Students were far more respectful of a student presentation because they know how hard they worked and they wanted the respect of the class when they presented. The bonds that are formed by group projects are an amazing thing to watch. Groups form and create amazing things together and I would hear them talk fondly about them years later. Those memories are connected to the content in a way traditional note-taking instruction could never accomplish. 

5. Differentiation - Our students are on an educational journey and they are all at different points on the trip. PBL allows for students to choose projects, set goals, and share their work in ways that meet their needs. Not all projects are going to look the same and that is a good thing. A classroom full of students will be filled with a variety of IEPs and 504s. As a teacher, crafting different assignments for each of those students every time one is needed can be too time consuming. Allowing more choice in their work with PBL lets the students adjust their work as needed. That way, all of the students will be able learn in a way that is best for them. Over time, I did not have to help those students tweak their projects because they learned what would push them to do their best.

These are just a few reasons why project-based learning is a great thing to bring into your classroom. There are so many other reasons! Check out my book on PBL in the classroom and feel free to reach out if you have questions or are interested in PD on this topic. 

Hugs and High Fives, 

Nick