Last night, a colleague and I facilitated a fascinating discussion and workshop about the impact of Generative AI in the writing classroom. It was the first Western Massachusetts Writing Project event at our new university home — we move from the University of Massachusetts to Westfield State University – and I designed and led the session with Catherine S., who runs the Writing Center at WSU.
The screenshot of the Answer Garden was a “writing into the session” activity, just to get a sense of where people were in their thinking of AI at the start.
One thing that made this session rather unique, I think, is the mix of educators — it was pretty even gathering of K-12 teachers (mostly, high school) and professors from the university, and that mix led to some deep, connected discussions about writing across the upper grades into the entry to college, and how platforms like ChatGPT, Google Bard and others are making an impact on the teaching of writing, and the writing that students are doing.
One activity that was a hit involved mixing the tables up with different people, so that college and K-12 folks did it together, and they were given a board with a span of “acceptable use of AI” to “unacceptable use of AI” with little cut-out squares that they had to place along that spectrum. Each square — such as using AI for brainstorming or Using AI to write a draft of a paper — sparked fascinating back and forth between participants about expectations of AI and their writers. (You can have access to make a copy, too)
We also created a large database of various AI platforms that could be useful for educators, grouping platforms and tools under curricular themes. We ran out of time for participants to play around with the sites, but made sure they had access to it. (You can have access, too).
Overall, our intentional message was not “the world is ending so ban AI” but more, “this is our new reality, so how can we start to think of AI as a partner to help us as teachers and maybe help our students as writers?” and I think that theme really resonated with the educators who joined us last night.
Peace (Writing It Down),