Generative AI and the Writing Classroom: WMWP Workshop

AI WMWP AnswerGarden Opening

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.

AI WMWP Group Activity

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)

AI WMWP Resources

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),

Write Out: Gathering Sensory Details for Haiku

Student Haiku

We’re in the second week of Write Out and using time in class to be inspired for writing. Yesterday, after watching a Park Ranger Video about writing Haiku poetry, we headed outside and gather some sensory details, and then my students wrote some Haiku poems.

They are doing final versions on note-cards, which we intend to mail off to Ranger Chris at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Peace (Short but Sweet),

Write Out: Leaf Maps

Leaf Maps

A fun Write Out activity that my students worked on the other day was to gather a leaf while writing outside, and then they created a Leaf Map — using the veins of the leaf and their imagination, they created a map of a place, with the leaf as inspiration for the artwork. Later, we will revisit the maps, and write stories based on the places of the Leaf Maps.

The Leaf Map idea came from a Park Ranger Prompt from the Capitol Reef National Park.

Peace (In All Places),

Write Out Found Poem: A Walk In The Woods

One of our special guests for this year’s Write Out is the writer Nikki Grimes, whose new picture book with Jerry and Brian Pinkney is A Walk in The Woods. The book is a beautiful, thoughtful look at loss and remembrance, through the eyes of a young boy who has lost his father, and yet, reconnects through a walk in the woods. A discovery by the boy of poems brings the story to a new level. (And knowing that illustrator Jerry Pinkney passed away during the creation of this book, and his son, Brian, helped finish some of the artwork is an entirely other level of this story)

This picture book is a perfect fit for Write Out, which has a theme of poetry and place, and tomorrow night (Tuesday, October 17th at 7 pm EST), Nikki Grimes will join Write Out in a Zoom session to talk about her new book. See the Write Out page for events to get more information and to sign up for the Zoom session.

For my Found Poem, I borrowed a line from each sequential page in the picture book and then brought them together for a poem. The only pages I did not borrow lines from are the ones with the poems the young boy found in the woods, as I wanted to leave those as a kind of sacred text for the story.

I then composed some music, used Keynote to stitch the book image and the Found Poem together, and then in iMovie, I added my voice narration. I felt as if my voice would be important here, letting the reader listen to the lines I borrowed from Nikki Grimes’ text.

Meanwhile, after reading the book, we did our own “walks in the woods” this weekend here in New England, where Autumn is well underway.

Walk In The Woods

Sunday Hike

Peace (Finding It),

Writing Out(side) for Write Out

Write Out Collage 2023

My students packed up their notebooks and pencils, and found a leaf, and then sat and wrote a story and made a leaf map, all for Write Out. It was a beautiful New England day.

Peace (On The Grass),