Writing Instruction for the Age of AI Workshop

Teachers taking place in a Short Answer workshop at the spring NETA conference in Omaha, NE
Educators take part in the Writing in the Age of AI workshop in Omaha, NE

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New AI tools like ChatGPT have upended K12 writing. Seven states have recently joined the Department of Education in calling for, “more professional development opportunities to equip educators with the skills and knowledge to effectively integrate AI into teaching and learning, and also for building students’ AI literacy”1. At the same time, almost 71% of educators (as of March 2024) report having had no training on AI.

Our team has been leading AI literacy professional development for the past two years. Writing Instruction for the Age of AI is designed to equip teachers with the policies, tools, and strategies necessary to meet the challenges – and seize the opportunities – created by AI in writing instruction and assessment. Our workshop focuses on answering one central question:

How do we effectively adjust writing instruction for the age of AI?

"I wish this had been even longer! Wonderful framing of responsible AI use, good modeling of effective teaching strategies, and very engaging."

An image of teachers talking to each other at a workshop
Texas educators take part in an abbreviated version of the Writing in the Age of AI workshop at the 2024 TCEA Spring Conference in Austin, Texas

Workshop Overview

Target Audience: 6th-12th grade teachers and administrators 

Length: 3 hours (flexible, with options to customize)

Learning Outcomes:

1. Understanding AI: Educators gain a foundational understanding of AI, enabling them to explain its basic mechanics and what it can & can’t do.

2. Practical Integration Strategies: Educators develop actionable classroom policies to effectively integrate AI into their teaching practices.

3. Tool Acquisition: Educators experience a variety of curated AI tools to implement the workshop framework, including Short Answer, and learn how to use AI safely and effectively with students.

Creators:

Adam Sparks profile picture

 Adam Sparks is a licensed educator with seven years of secondary English and Social Studies teaching experience. He recently finished his master’s degree in Learning Design & Technology at Stanford where his work focused on formative assessment, writing instruction, and technology integration.

Alexa Sparks profile picture

Alexa Sparks is a senior software developer studying Educational Data Science at Stanford. At Stanford, Alexa specializes in the underlying technology driving new AI tools (i.e. machine learning, natural language processing, etc.) and currently works on a research team studying AI’s ability to provide effective feedback on student writing.

Our 5 Point Framework

The Writing in the Age of AI workshop uses this 5-point framework to guide educators in a highly engaging, hands-on session:

1. Set clear classroom policies on AI:  Students need to know when they can, can’t, and should use AI in their learning. In this section, educators develop AI policies to achieve this while also working to reframe academic integrity as a learning outcome in their classroom.

Questions answered: What is AI? How should we use AI detectors? What does “academic integrity” mean in the age of AI?

2. Teach students to write without AI: In this section, educators experience ways to embed independent writing activities across the curriculum to ensure students are capable of writing without AI.

Questions answered: Why learn how to write on your own when a machine can do it 1000X and (often) better? How do we make up for lost independent writing practice caused by AI?

3. Develop students’ ability to write with AI: Educators learn how to safely and effectively model effective AI use with students. A variety of free tools are demoed that help students research, draft, and edit writing. Strategies for critically assessing information provided by AI are also detailed.

Questions answered: Is it safe to have students use AI? As a teacher, how can I maintain full control of student experiences when using AI? How do I model effective AI use for students?

4. Embed metacognitive reflection: Students need to be able to actively monitor and explain how AI is influencing their thinking. In this section, we introduce metacognition research and demo reflection activities and tools to actualize it in student writing.

Questions answered: How do I ensure students don’t use AI to “think for them”?  Is it possible for me to control cheating with AI?

5. Reinforce “the why” in writing: Educators discuss the value of writing beyond academic assessment, including research and practices to show students the importance and power of writing.

Questions answered: What is the value in teaching writing now that machines can write for us?

"I walked into this session nervous about AI. I left with a strong feeling of positivity and feeling excited to use this new technology."

Impact & Feedback

We have delivered this workshop in schools and districts across the country, including with these organizations:

  1. Educational Service Center 20, San Antonio TX
  2. (Upcoming) Educational Service Center 11, Fort Worth TX
  3. (Upcoming) Educational Service Center 9, Wichita Falls TX
  4. (Upcoming) Educational Service Center 3, Victoria TX
  5. Norris Public Schools, Norris NE (see our case study)
  6. Papillion LaVista Community Schools, Papillion NE (see our case study)
  7. Nebraska Educational Technology Association Spring Conference, Omaha NE
  8. Mid-America Association for Computer in Education Spring Conference, Manhattan KS
 

Educators consistently praise the workshop for it’s practical approach to AI. “This was the best session I attended at this conference,” said a participant in Austin, TX. “So eye-opening and left me with resources I can implement tomorrow. I love that you led with the research.” A high school English teacher in NE recently shared, “We were literally arguing about almost all of this at a staff meeting just last week. I’m so excited to take this back and share what I learned.”

These experiences speak to how our workshop can be an important first step in developing AI literacy, ensuring that core writing skills not only survive but thrive in the age of AI. Reach out if you’d like more information on bringing our workshop to your school.

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Teachers taking place in a Short Answer workshop at the spring NETA conference in Omaha, NE
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Writing Instruction for the Age of AI Workshop

New AI tools like ChatGPT have upended K12 writing. Seven states have recently joined the Department of Education in calling for, “more professional development opportunities

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Intro Hello there, my name is Adam Sparks. My wife Alexa and I are the creators of Short Answer! First, we want to say thank

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