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  • Writer's picturelaurawippell

Three ways to explore ChatGPT in your English B classroom

It’s been a few months since headlines about ChatGPT screamed at us from our devices, and while the amount of news on this form of artificial intelligence has slowed down a bit, it’s still causing waves and not going away anytime soon.


When I’ve talked to teachers there have been two main tendencies about ChatGPT’s existence:

  1. Many who are living in a complete state of denial about it.

  2. Those who curse its existence and have stomach aches every time they receive summative assessment from their students - now saying they have even more work to determine who actually wrote these assignments.




I think the IB says it well when “artificial intelligence (AI) technology will become part of our everyday lives—like spell checkers, translation software and calculators. We, therefore, need to adapt and transform our educational programmes and assessment practices so that students can use these new AI tools ethically and effectively.” (2023)


It’s a good point - can you imagine the kerfuffle that spell checkers would have raised in the language teaching community when they were introduced? We adapted and we survived. And we can do the same with this new technology we are facing.


Let’s be open minded about this, and look at it as an opportunity.


Here are three ways on how to explore ChatGPT in your classroom, depending on your teaching style and how you're currently feeling.



#1 - For the teachers who aren't quite ready


If you’re feeling on edge about setting up an account and handing over your personal details, why not explore ChatGPT in your classroom without actually using it? This is a great opportunity for debate, to have students write their opinions, or complete inquiry activities on ChatGPT.


Here’s an English B unit I’ve prepared on ChatGPT where students develop listening, speaking, writing, reading and critical thinking skills, all while practising for English B Papers 1 and 2! It enables you to do a deep dive into this new technology without having to actually use it, all while fostering international-mindedness with your students.


#2 - For the teachers who are concerned about academic honesty


When it comes to artificial intelligence, you’re going to need to establish rules. What is your school’s stance on this technology? It’s important a clear message is communicated to students about expectations around use.


If your school is allowing the use of ChatGPT for some activities, e.g. as a way of analysing bias, or critiquing writing styles, don’t forget to pay your school library and wonderful librarian a visit for a refresher on how your students can accurately and honestly quote ChatGPT as a source in their bibliographies.


When it comes to this new technology, we need to face it as a team - I can’t reinforce enough how important it is to ensure you’re following your school’s stance on this, and ask for support from your colleagues.

For those of you who would also want to use ChatGPT as a gateway to discuss ethics, here’s another interesting idea from an IB blog post.


And for those of you who have had the awful experience of having students using this technology to cheat, here’s an article that might help you see this unsavoury experience in a new light.


"AI technology will become part of our everyday lives—like spell checkers, translation software and calculators." International Baccalaureate Organization


#3 - For the teachers who want to dive right in!


You preach attributes from the IB Learner Profile, like the importance of being an inquirer and open-minded, because that’s exactly the sort of teacher you are!


If you’re more than happy to use ChatGPT and chatbots as a tool in your classroom, make sure you have read the previous section about being in line with your school, and then try out these ideas for activities using ChatGPT:


  • Use this as a tool to develop writing skills:

Ask ChatGPT to write a paragraph on a topic in a descriptive manner. Get the students to highlight all of the adjectives or phrases that were used to describe the topic, and ask students to evaluate if the text effectively communicated its message or not.


Do the same activity, but for persuasive, informative and instructive texts. This is great practice for Paper 1 and will get students reflecting on language use across different texts and text types.


  • Use it as a writing prompt:

I think the English B syllabus is simply wonderful and develops important skills that our students will need for the future. In a world of professional texts however, I do often miss creative writing and the power of storytelling for the sake of storytelling.


If you want to give your students a brain break from the world of text types and Paper 1 preparation, why not ask ChatGPT to generate a setting/character description that the students can use as a writing prompt for a short piece of creative writing? I’m always blown away at what they come up with when given a creative writing task.


  • Use it to reflect and develop critical thinking skills

As mentioned in this blog post, ChatGPT can be a wonderful way to explore bias in writing. If you ask it to generate a piece of writing on a particular topic, get your students to analyse the tone and bias in the writing, and what they would have written instead. It might not be human, but ChatGPT will still display bias in its writing.


An activity I had a lot of fun preparing was getting students to identify which texts are human, and which ones were written by a chatbot. This activity includes extracts from three famous literary texts, and extracts written by a chatbot in the style of these literary texts. It’s so much fun to get students to reflect on which ones they prefer, writing styles and voice, and how our writing can evoke emotional responses in readers.


I know this blog post won’t be enough to change your opinion on ChatGPT, but I hope it can help you find a way of exploring it in your classroom that you’re comfortable with.


Do you have any other recommendations on how to use it as an English teacher? I’d love to hear your comments below!



Sources:


Statement from the IB about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence in assessment and education. (2023, March 1). International Baccalaureate®. https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/statement-from-the-ib-about-chatgpt-and-artificial-intelligence-in-assessment-and-education/



Why ChatGPT is an opportunity for schools. (2023, March 6). International Baccalaureate®. https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/why-chatgpt-is-an-opportunity-for-schools/




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