I came across another new site that seeks to use AI to make the lives of teaching a bit easier. Or so it suggests. I don’t mind experimenting with some of these sites because I am always curious about what the output will be and if it is useful or not.
Teaching AIssistant (get it?) is a Lesson Planning site that uses AI to generate Lesson Plans on ideas. There are some basic questions and prompts to get things started and then the AI does its thing. Since I am in the midst of a unit on Argument Writing with my sixth graders, I figured I would give Teaching AIssistant a try.
My guiding prompt: generate a lesson plan that has students “write an argument that includes claims, counter-claims and a refutation of the counter-claim.”
This is what it generated for me:
Lesson Plan: Crafting A Written Argument
In this lesson, students will learn how to craft a written argument by analyzing a real-world problem related to their age group and writing an argument that includes claims, counter-claims, and a refutation of the counter-claim.
- Students will be able to identify the main points in an argument.
- Students will be able to craft a written argument that includes claims, counter-claims, and a refutation of the counter-claim.
- Students will be able to identify the key elements of persuasive writing.
- Students will be able to evaluate a written argument based on its persuasiveness.
- Whiteboard and markers
- Worksheets with the real-world problem and writing prompt
- Rubric for assessing student work
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by asking the students if they ever disagreed with something someone else said or did. Allow time for students to share their experiences. Then, introduce the concept of persuasive writing and its purpose. Explain that they will be learning how to craft a written argument, which is a type of persuasive writing used to convince others of a specific viewpoint.
Real-World Problem (15 minutes)
Divide the students into small groups and provide each group with the real-world problem worksheet. The problem should be one that is relevant to their age group and has divided opinion.
For example: The school has proposed to replace the playground equipment with new equipment that increasing numbers of students cannot use safely. There are strong voices of support and strong voices of opposition.
Instruct the students to read the problem and discuss possible viewpoints with their group. Help them to identify their target audience.
Writing Prompts (20 minutes)
Provide each student with a worksheet that outlines the writing prompt. The writing prompt should ask the students to write an argument that includes claims, counter-claims, and a refutation of the counter-claim. Remind them to consider the viewpoints of others and to use evidence to support their claims.
For example: Write an argument that either supports or opposes the proposal to replace the playground equipment. Address the concerns of those who disagree with your position.”
Peer Review (10 minutes)
Pairs of students should read and evaluate each other’s work. Guidelines should be provided to ensure students are clear on what to look for (eg inclusion of viewpoints different from their own perspective, whether information is persuasive, logic, organization, etc.).
Closing (5 minutes)
Review the main elements of persuasive writing and the purpose of crafting a written argument. Emphasize that being able to craft effective arguments will be an important skill throughout their academic career and in life.
Use the provided rubric to evaluate student work. The rubric should assess students on their ability to identify the main points in an argument, craft a written argument that includes claims, counter-claims, and a refutation of the counter-claim, identify the key elements of persuasive writing, and evaluate a written argument based on its persuasiveness.
Not too bad, I suppose, although a bit too generalized, but I was curious how ChatGPT would analyze that AI-generated lesson plan, so I took that entire lesson plan, popped it into ChatGPT and asked it to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson plan first generated by Teaching AIssistant. (Kinda strange to have one Generative AI critique the work of another Generative AI, right? And since one is built off the other, it’s like making the AI criticize itself. The AI don’t mind.)
Here is ChatGPT’s analysis of the Teaching AIssistant plan:
Strengths of the Lesson Plan:
- Clear objectives: The lesson plan clearly outlines the objectives of the lesson, including the ability to identify main points, craft a written argument with specific elements, and evaluate persuasive writing.
- Real-world application: By using a real-world problem relevant to the students’ age group, the lesson plan helps students see the practical application of persuasive writing skills.
- Active learning: The lesson plan encourages student engagement through group discussions, writing prompts, and peer review, allowing students to actively participate and learn from each other.
- Step-by-step structure: The lesson plan provides a clear structure with distinct sections, including an introduction, problem analysis, writing prompts, peer review, and closing. This helps maintain a logical flow and facilitates comprehension and learning.
- Assessment rubric: The lesson plan includes a rubric to assess student work, which provides clear criteria for evaluation and helps maintain consistency in grading.
Weaknesses of the Lesson Plan:
- Time allocation: The time allocated for certain sections, such as the introduction (10 minutes) and peer review (10 minutes), might not be sufficient for effective student engagement and meaningful discussions. More time could be allotted to ensure thorough understanding and participation.
- Lack of differentiation: The lesson plan does not address differentiation for students with diverse learning needs or abilities. It would be beneficial to include strategies or modifications to accommodate different learners, such as providing additional support for struggling students or extension activities for advanced students.
- Limited focus on counter-claims: While the lesson plan mentions the inclusion of counter-claims and their refutation, it does not provide explicit guidance on how to develop and address counter-arguments effectively. Including specific strategies or examples for handling counter-claims would enhance the lesson plan.
- Assessment limitations: The rubric provided for assessment covers the main objectives of the lesson, but it does not account for other aspects of writing, such as grammar, clarity of expression, or creativity. Consider expanding the rubric to encompass a broader range of writing skills and qualities.
- Lack of technology integration: The lesson plan relies solely on traditional resources, such as whiteboards, markers, and worksheets. Integrating technology tools or resources, such as online research or writing platforms, could enhance the lesson plan by incorporating digital literacy skills and providing additional learning opportunities.
Overall, the lesson plan has several strengths, including clear objectives, real-world application, and active learning strategies. However, addressing the weaknesses, such as time allocation, differentiation, and inclusion of specific guidance for counter-claims, would further improve the plan’s effectiveness and comprehensiveness.
OK — so that critique is pretty specific and has a lot in there that I might agree with or at least consider if I were to tweak the plan further for actual use in the classroom. I then asked ChatGPT to revise the Teaching AIssistant plan, based on its own analysis.
Lesson Plan: Crafting a Persuasive Argument with Engaging Activities
Overview: In this dynamic lesson, students will explore the art of crafting a persuasive argument by analyzing a real-world problem relevant to their age group. They will engage in interactive activities, collaborate in groups, and use technology to enhance their learning experience.
- Students will identify and articulate the main points in an argument.
- Students will construct a well-structured written argument that includes claims, counter-claims, and a refutation of the counter-claim.
- Students will analyze and apply key elements of persuasive writing.
- Students will evaluate the persuasiveness of a written argument using critical thinking skills.
- Interactive whiteboard or projector
- Laptops, tablets, or smartphones with internet access
- Worksheets with the real-world problem and writing prompt
- Rubric for assessing student work
Introduction (15 minutes):
- Grab students’ attention by presenting an engaging video clip or a thought-provoking scenario related to the real-world problem they will be exploring.
- Facilitate a class discussion by asking open-ended questions about persuasive writing and its purpose. Encourage students to share their thoughts and personal experiences.
Real-World Problem Exploration (20 minutes):
- Divide students into small groups and provide each group with the real-world problem worksheet. Ensure the problem is relevant and relatable to their age group.
- Instruct students to analyze the problem, discuss various viewpoints within their groups, and brainstorm possible arguments. Encourage critical thinking and lively discussions.
- Utilize the interactive whiteboard or projector to have each group present their main points and arguments to the class. This promotes engagement and knowledge sharing.
Writing Prompts and Technology Integration (30 minutes):
- Provide each student with a writing prompt worksheet. Enhance their engagement by introducing technology tools, such as online research platforms or writing software.
- Ask students to conduct online research to gather evidence and support their claims. Emphasize the importance of considering different viewpoints.
- Encourage students to use digital tools to create multimedia elements for their arguments, such as images, videos, or infographics.
- Facilitate peer collaboration and feedback by utilizing online platforms for real-time document sharing and commenting. This fosters active participation and allows students to learn from each other’s work.
Argument Showdown (15 minutes):
- Organize an argument showdown where pairs of students present and defend their arguments to the class.
- Encourage respectful debates and create a supportive environment for students to challenge and question each other’s viewpoints.
- Incorporate audience participation by allowing classmates to ask questions and provide constructive feedback.
- Emphasize the importance of effective communication, critical thinking, and evidence-based reasoning during the argument showdown.
Closing and Reflection (10 minutes):
- Recap the main elements of persuasive writing and its real-world applications.
- Engage students in a reflective discussion about their learning experience and the challenges they encountered.
- Encourage students to consider how they can apply their newfound skills in other academic subjects and real-life situations.
- Conclude by highlighting the significance of crafting persuasive arguments as a lifelong skill and the ability to influence positive change.
Assessment: Utilize the provided rubric to assess student work, considering their ability to identify main points, construct persuasive arguments with supporting evidence, analyze key elements of persuasive writing, and evaluate the persuasiveness of arguments. Additionally, consider including criteria for creativity, clarity of expression, and effective use of technology resources.
Much better, right? Finally, I asked ChatGPT to generate a list of “real world problems” for sixth graders to grapple with in an argument writing assignment.
Here’s a list of ten real-world problems suitable for 12-year-old students to use in this lesson:
- Should schools have mandatory uniform policies?
- Should junk food be banned from school cafeterias?
- Should students be assigned homework over school breaks?
- Should the school day start later to accommodate students’ sleep patterns?
- Should cell phones be allowed in classrooms?
- Should schools eliminate standardized testing?
- Should students have a say in determining the curriculum?
- Should animals be used for cosmetic testing?
- Should single-use plastics be banned to protect the environment?
- Should physical education be a required subject in schools?
These problems are age-appropriate and can elicit diverse viewpoints, allowing students to engage in meaningful discussions and develop persuasive arguments.
All this took less than 15 minutes. Now, none of it was new to me and my lessons around teaching Argument Writing to my students but if I were a new teacher, this kind of back and forth, and using the AI as thinking partner, would be potentially very valuable (particularly if you worked in a school district that requires teachers to file lesson plans for administrative review — luckily, I am not required to do that).
I’ve always been tinkering with Curipod, which is an interactive presentation platform fueled by AI generation, and it is pretty nifty. You give it points of discussion and it creates a slideshow presentation with various interactive elements — word clouds, quizzes, drawings, etc.
You can check out my sample on the introduction of Argument here. I am in the midst of using Curipod for a presentation this summer for teachers on how AI might be considered for use to support English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities.
Peace (and plans),