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teachers and ai
#8 Blog 2023

The Role of K-12 Teachers in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

October 2, 2023

The Role of K-12 Teachers in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

AI is a game-changer, but how can teachers maintain control of the learning in their classrooms? Get ideas for using AI in assignments and what to do if it’s unexpectedly detected in student work.


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The role of teachers is more important than ever in the age of artificial intelligence. Powerful new tools that use this emerging technology have the potential to change the way teachers teach and students learn. Some even call it a “game-changer.” But no matter how the game changes, teachers must always be in control of their classrooms. In a sense, they must always be the classroom’s “head coach.”

As the coach, you need a game plan for the use of AI in your classroom. As you develop your lesson plans, you must think about the role AI may play. It is important to clearly articulate the guidelines for the use of AI in each assignment or project. Here are some commonsense guidelines to consider:

  1. For this assignment or project (e.g., a creative writing assignment), students should do all original work and not use AI.
  2. For this assignment or project, students can use AI only on specific parts of their work, provided they list all references (e.g., a research paper where AI can be used for background research, but not in the writing of the paper itself).
  3. For this assignment or project, there are no limits on how students can use AI, provided they list all references (e.g., a science class experiment in which the student uses AI to analyze the observational data and help draw conclusions).

The best way to ensure AI enhances learning and is used properly in your classroom is to have a clear “AI usage” plan for students to follow before they begin their work.

So, then what should you do when AI is identified in working with students?

When a student’s work is possibly being created by AI, teachers should use a thoughtful approach that creates a teachable moment. This way, a potentially difficult experience can be used to strengthen the education goals of both the teacher and the individual student.

Here are some simple suggestions for teachers:

  • Familiarize yourself with your school's academic integrity policies and procedures.
  • Before talking with the student, make sure you are confident that the work is possibly AI-generated. This could be done using AI-identifying software such as GPTZero.
  • Arrange a private meeting with the student to discuss the issue. This should be a safe space where the student can openly share their thoughts about the work and how it was developed.
  • Clearly present what you have identified, without making any accusations. Ask the student to explain the similarities between their work and the content that was identified as possibly AI-generated.
  • Give the student an opportunity to explain. Many times, there are circumstances or misunderstandings that must be shared and considered.
  • If the student did use AI, use the situation to educate the student about academic integrity, the importance of doing original work, and how the proper use of educational tools is crucial to their success in the future.
  • In addition, if confirmed, you may need to take additional steps according to your school’s policies.

What additional ideas or concerns do you have? Comment below.

K12 Teaching and AI

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Rob Weil
Mr. Weil taught high school math in Colorado for twenty years. He also served as the president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCFT) until he joined the AFT staff in 2001.  Mr. Weil works on issues related to teachers and teaching, collective bargaining, international education, and... See More

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