Friday, July 19, 2024
Ways to use AI in the Classroom

Ways to use AI in the Classroom

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11

It seems like AI is everywhere at the moment, but how can we use it in the classroom? First off, some general points.

  • Most AI requires the user to be over 13 years old, so it is not appropriate for younger students to work directly with AI in a lesson at the moment. However, you can cut your preparation and planning workload using AI and use AI-powered applications with the children.
  • AI apps often have a warning that they might not be accurate because they sometimes make things up! Never use AI-generated text with children without checking it thoroughly first.
  • Understanding how to prompt the AI is key to getting it to do what you want.
    • Give the AI a role. You are an expert primary school teacher is a good starting point for making sure the text or image is appropriate. You can also ask it to Act as a critic or an editor.
    • Tell the AI which year group the output is aimed at and which curriculum you are following.
    • Make your instructions very clear and explicit. For example, Prepare a text on the subject of frogs in the Amazon rainforest for a class of ten-year-old children, following the UK national curriculum. Include the following grammar features: noun phrases, complex sentences, and present tense verbs. Include the frog’s habitat, life cycle, diet and threats to the frog. Make the tone of the writing serious and factual. Mention at least two different species of frog. Make the entire text between 500 and 600 words.
    • Be prepared to have a “discussion” with the AI about what you need; it might not get it right the first time, no matter how clear you are.

Just a few of the general teaching tasks that AI can help with are:

  • Creating model answers and also producing poor-quality answers that the children can improve.
  • Planning a scheme of work. Remember to specify in your prompt which curriculum you are following and the age of the children you are working with. Also, include how many weeks the scheme of work needs to cover.
  • Generating comprehension questions for a text.
  • Creating quizzes to test subject knowledge.

Useful free AI sites for teachers include:

  • ChatGPT – This is the site that brought AI into the mainstream.
  • Bing Chat – As well as text, this site will generate images.
  • Craiyon and Stable Diffusion both have good free image generators.
  • Character.ai allows you to “chat” with characters and historical figures.
  • Quizalize can create quiz questions on any topic.

Note: Many free AI sites require some kind of sign in so it is worth creating a Google account to access them quickly.

The ideas below have been organised into subject sections:

English:

  • Use AI to generate ideas for writing. For example, try a prompt like Generate 10 ideas for a story set in Ancient Rome, or Generate 10 metaphors to describe the Sun.
  • Input a text into the AI and ask it to improve it. Show the children both versions. Compare the improved text to the original text. Have all of the changes improved it? What would you have done differently?
  • Ask the AI to generate a vocabulary list for a piece of writing.
  • Use AI to generate a text for teaching specific grammar or punctuation points. Try a prompt such as: Generate a text about a school that includes at least two examples of the following points: a possessive pronoun, an expanded noun phrase, and a verb in the past tense. Remember to tell the AI the age or level of the children you are working with to make sure the language used is appropriate.
  • Ask the AI to create a plan for a piece of writing.
  • Use AI to alter existing texts to a different reading level. For example, you could give it the text from a newspaper report and ask it to rewrite it for a six-year-old to read.
  • Ask AI to suggest character and place names. A good strategy is to ask for a few and pick from that.
  • Generate spelling lists; for example, try the prompt: Generate a list of 10 words which include the suffix –ly for a seven-year-old child to learn.

Maths:

  • Use AI to generate practice questions. For example, try the prompt: Write 20 equations that use multiplication in the 2, 5 and 10 times tables. Do not include the answers; give the answers separately.
  • Create themed maths questions easily to align with your topic. Try the prompt: Write 20 questions that use addition and subtraction to 100. Use the theme of vehicles.

Science:

  • Use AI to create a quick quiz that can be used at the beginning of a topic to gauge the children’s existing knowledge or at the end to assess their understanding.
  • Use AI to generate lists of keywords with definitions. Try: Generate a list of keywords with their definitions for the topic of rocks and soils for a class of 7-year-old children.

Computing:

  • Experiment with using different prompts to generate text or an image. Start with a very general prompt, such as: Write a story about a cat. Then try a more detailed one, such as: You are an author of children’s stories. Write a story about a cat who gets lost. Show the output to the children and ask them to compare the different outputs given by different prompts. What do they notice?
  • Ask the AI to generate some information about a topic you are studying, for example, the Ancient Egyptians. How do you know that what it has written is accurate? How can you fact-check the AI output? Show children some reliable sources (such as the BBC, a museum website or Kiddle) and ask them to check it.
  • Show the children examples of how apps and websites use AI and ask them to generate ideas for an AI-powered app.
  • To make sure that the content is appropriate, it is better to generate this before the lesson and use screenshots to show the children rather than use the apps or sites live. Some tools to try include:
    • The Brickit app which scans a pile of Lego and suggests what you could make from it.
    • Dishgen which creates recipes from ingredients.
    • Idea Generator which can use your input to generate ideas.
    • Online chatbots such as those used by companies and banks to help their customers.

Art:

  • Animate a drawn character using Animated Drawings, an AI-driven animation program.
  • Upload a line drawing to Petalica Paint and see the effects of different colours on the artwork.
  • When you are planning for children to create their own art in an artist’s style, you can use Bing Chat to create some example images. Be aware that each chat is limited to 5 inputs. Here are a couple of examples created in this way.
    • Prompt: Generate an image of a bus in the style of Claude Monet.

A bus in the style of Claude Monet

      • Prompt: Generate an image of a cup in the style of Guiseppe Arcimboldo.

A cup in the style of Arcimboldo.

Music:

  • Ask the AI to generate a list of composers or performers who make music in a particular style or at a particular time. Try a prompt like: Make me a list of the names, dates and a brief biography of all the major European composers of the 19th century. Put the output into a table. Remember to fact-check this carefully.
  • Use the AI to suggest music; for example, try this prompt: You are a music teacher. Generate a list of music I could use in a unit about drumming, and tell me why each piece would be a good fit.

History:

  • Research the history of AI and make a timeline. This Kids Britannica page is a useful starting point.
  • Ask the AI to answer in the persona of a historical figure and ask them questions about what they did and why they did it. Show this to the children and ask them to answer the same questions. Do they agree with the AI’s answers? Character.ai has some ready-made historical figures, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Shakespeare, or you can log in and generate your own.
  • Research AI pioneers such as Alan Turing.

PSHE:

  • Discuss who owns text or images that have been created using AI. Who owns ideas?
  • Pose the question: Is it OK to use AI in your work, or is it cheating?

If you have any other ideas, let us know in the comments below!

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