We have opened 3 new buildings in our district over the last 3 years. A new middle school, a new elementary school, and a new high school STEAM Center. Science, technology, arts, math. Not actual steam like the Titanic.
One of the cool things that happens when a district opens new schools, is people like to come visit. And we love to host and share and show off. So yesterday, we were joined by the Fife City Manager, the Mayor, and a City Council member.
We walked around the building, pointed out features, answered questions, and generally enjoyed the entire event. We decided to pop into a 5th grade teacher’s classroom. The people popping in were the mayor, our superintendent, and yours truly.
The teacher immediately introduced all of us and asked the kids if they had any questions of the mayor. Bear in mind, there was no preparation for this event, and the kids are 11.
Here are a few of the questions they tossed at the mayor.
“What is happening on 12th St. in Fife, over at the bottom of Fife Heights?”
“How did you feel when you won your first election? What about the next one?”
“What kinds of things do you do as mayor?”
Of course the mayor did a fantastic job answering the questions, and one of the things that I really appreciated was that she answered the questions as she would have with adults. Clear answers that the kids understood. The Q/A could have continued for awhile, but we needed to move along.
As we left, I was struck by the visit. Kids are great. Teachers are great. This particular teacher is a complete pro. She has built a classroom environment where 3 visitors come in, kids are not phased, she gives the kids the opportunity to engage as they see fit, and the kids absolutely nail it.
For any who fret about kids, school, teachers, education, civics; yesterday was a solid piece of evidence that we’re in good hands.
As we gathered to end our tour, the council member asked the principal how the city could best support the school. The answer had nothing to do with money. The answer was to continue to be a part of the school’s community, come read to kids, visit classrooms, expose the kids to as many different kinds of people, doing as many different kinds of jobs as we can find.
The kids will become adults, become voters, become teachers, principals, mayors, council members, and today was a step in their young lives into their futures, as citizens.
We have a whole bunch of talented and passionate educators around our district. One of them is a gentleman named Keith Hannah. The list of Keith’s accomplishments and accolades would fill an entire blogpost. Trust me on this, Keith knows his business. His current title is K-12 Instructional Technology Facilitator. As with all of us in our small district, that title is the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what Keith carries on his shoulders.
So I like to use Twitter. And I’m seeing a lot of teeth grinding about ChatGPT. Kids are going to cheat. It’s the end of writing and thinking as we know it. Mankind will come to a close. And so forth.
Here’s part of Keith’s direct message about ChatGPT to our teachers. Note the calm.
“If you haven’t already become aware of ChatGPT – a form of artificial intelligence (AI) trained to provide natural language answers to questions on virtually anything and everything – even solve math problems and write essays incapable of currently being detected by plagiarism detectors like TurnItIn and Classroom Originality Reports – consider this your introduction to ChatGPT. I have spent the last week or so pouring over different resources addressing issues ChatGPT brings along with its potential role as a change agent in education. My “ChatGPT travels” have left me thinking about how this particular form of AI, which can seem a little nefarious or scary at first, may actually enact positive, transformative change.
Without question, ChatGPT and other forms of AI are disruptors to education. What’s more, they are only going to become more sophisticated over time. The first thing we need to pause and remember is that education has always faced technology disruptors…calculators, Google searches, and Wikipedia to name a few…and yet found meaningful ways to leverage these disrupters for educational value. The very idea that students can simply provide the interface with a prompt or question, and *POOF* an essay appears before their very eyes fills many-a-writing instructor with a certain sense of dread. Before we waste too much time worrying, however, I want to pass along a resource that many of you may find a measure of comfort in.
Click HERE to check out what I feel is probably the most comprehensive yet time-sensitive, thought-provoking, and solutions oriented resources I came across in my exploration of ChatGPT.”
This resource provides you with the following:
An explanation of ChatGPT
Potential implications for education
How to teach tomorrow in the face of ChatGPT
Ways to use this as a tool for teaching/learning
An exploration of blocking or banning ChatGPT
And, for the curious, additional resources to learn more
My favorite line of reasoning in the above? “education has always faced technology disruptors…calculators, Google searches, and Wikipedia to name a few…and yet found meaningful ways to leverage these disrupters for educational value.“
I’m hearing about districts that are ‘banning’ ChatGPT. Not sure how that would work unless we’re taking kids’ computers out of their homes. How about we follow Keith’s advice and see how we can best leverage the power of this brand new tool? It ain’t going anywhere. Let’s use it.