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Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Classroom Technology Opinion

Confused About Which AI Tools to Use? These Teachers Have Advice

By Larry Ferlazzo — August 08, 2023 7 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
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Today’s post is the latest in a multipart series appearing over the past six months about AI’s impact on the classroom.

You can see all of those previous posts here.

Helpful, But Not the Holy Grail

Michelle Shory is a veteran language educator with 26 years of experience in five states. She is currently an ESL teacher and instructional coach at Seneca High School in the Jefferson County public schools in Louisville, Ky.

Irina McGrath, Ph.D., is an assistant principal at Newcomer Academy in the Jefferson County school district and the president of KYTESOL.

“Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way” — Tom Freston, businessman and entrepreneur

Artificial intelligence modernizes education by integrating existing teaching methods with cutting-edge technology, making learning more efficient. Although AI has been around for a while (Google, Google Translate, Grammarly, self-driving cars, etc.), AI tools have grown rapidly, with new advances being made daily. We believe that AI has the potential to change some of the ways educators teach and students learn; however, it cannot replace the power of human relationships and social learning, which lie at the core of any effective classroom. This post highlights some of the AI tools that have assisted us as multilingual educators.

ChatGPT is the most commonly used and well-known new AI tool. It is a groundbreaking, generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) because it can communicate in human languages (not just computer code). It’s been widely reported that ChatGPT can communicate in at least 95 languages—although, according to the bot itself, it can provide its “most accurate and detailed” responses in English. To use ChatGPT, enter a prompt, and ChatGPT will do its best to assist you.

As multilingual educators, we have used prompts like the following to scaffold an existing text:

● Could you simplify this text for me?
● Could you write it at a 5th grade level?
● Could you write it in Spanish?

We’ve also used it to create original texts with prompts like these:

● Could you write a poem about identity?
● Could you insert the following words in this poem?
● Could you write a speech about education that sounds like Barack Obama?

ChatGPT can also be used to save time with prompts like these:

● Could you write an email to Juan’s mom about his missing assignments?
● Could you write a letter of recommendation for Byombe? Here is his resume.
● Could you create a 5th grade lesson plan for an argument writing unit—and include a rubric?

As you can see, “prompt engineering” is a skill, and if you are not satisfied with what you know, you can ask ChatGPT to “try that again.”

In addition to ChatGPT, we have also utilized the following tools:

Diffit is an AI tool that will modify texts at different levels and in different languages. In addition, Diffit will create a summary, key vocabulary words, comprehension questions, and open-ended questions that work really well for class discussions. We have saved a lot of time with Diffit; however, we always review and adapt the created materials before sharing them with students. Diffit’s generated vocabulary list comes with definitions and example sentences. You can copy definitions or example sentences and paste them into any AI image generator to create visuals that would help multilingual students understand the meaning of the words better.

Image Generators: There are several image generators. Canva, Dall E 2 (also by Open AI), Padlet, and a handy collection called Tiny Wow. All of these tools will create images based on a description. For example, you could enter the prompt: “A red panda in a blue car” and receive many versions of the image, which could be in a modern, impressionist, or graphic style—depending on the language in the prompt. We have used these images to support texts or to create an intriguing image for a class discussion.

Canva Docs offers a “convert” button to convert text into a presentation. We copied an outline we wrote for the Multilingual Learners Summit keynote into Canva Docs, clicked on the convert button, and Canva gave us several suggestions for a slide deck to use with our presentation. We liked the one it selected so much that we used it for the conference! Again, we had to edit and review, but it was helpful to have a start.

Microsoft Reading Coach allows students to practice fluency by recording themselves reading a text. Reading Coach will listen and provide feedback on their fluency, speed, and accuracy. In addition, using AI, Reading Coach will provide practice items and warm feedback on missed items. We’ve shown teachers how to use this tool but have not tried it with a classroom of students.

Quillbot is a free paraphrasing tool with features such as grammar checking, citation assistance, translation, and summarization. It also provides the co-writer tool, which allows students to generate texts by typing sentences in the provided space or dictating them. Quillbot then corrects sentence grammar, offers suggestions on enhancing sentence clarity, and enables multilingual learners to listen to their writing being read aloud.

Scraft is an AI language tutor that allows students to practice writing in various languages and proficiency levels that range from beginner to fluent. Multilinguals can select a topic from an existing list or generate a random topic for their writing practice. Scraft’s AI will initiate a conversation, and as the student responds with short text messages, Scraft will correct and explain any errors made. If a student provides a simple sentence, Scraft will prompt the student to elaborate on the answer by requesting additional details.

The list of AI tools can be overwhelming. However, if you want to find more AI tools, check out https://www.futurepedia.io/. The site is updated daily with new AI tools, which are categorized by function.


Thanks to Michelle and Irina for contributing their thoughts!

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email (The RSS feed for this blog, and for all Ed Week articles, has been changed by the new redesign—new ones are not yet available). And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 11 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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