AI in the Classroom: 33 Strategies & Lesson Plan Ideas

While AI can offer students a more interactive and engaging learning experience, it is crucial to carefully consider and address these concerns to ensure a balanced and effective integration of AI in education.

Emily Veno
• 
May 5, 2023

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.✨
             -Arthur C. Clarke’s three adages on the future


A pop song sung by A.I.-generated versions of Drake and the Weeknd blew up on social media — before being removed by streaming services.

The Republican National Committee released an A.I.-generated ad criticizing President Biden.

ChatGPT can now correctly answer questions from the LSAT, and some say it may be on the way to replacing lawyers, doctors, therapists, and customer service representatives.

And all of these developments have happened within a matter of months.

As artificial intelligence (AI) advancements continue to reshape various aspects of our lives, the education sector is no exception. As an innovative virtual school, Prisma has been investigating how artificial intelligence may impact the education industry as a whole, and the learning experience of our individual learners.

AI tools are potential game-changers in revolutionizing how we teach and learn. This post explores the role of AI in education, its short-term and long-term impact, and provides AI lesson plan ideas for learners of all ages.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems capable of performing tasks typically requiring human intelligence. These tasks may include problem-solving, learning, planning, understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, and more.

AI technology has made significant strides in recent years, enabling machines to learn and adapt to new information, making them increasingly interactive and capable of assisting in various areas, including education.

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that is capable of creating new data or content that is similar to human-created content. This new technology uses machine learning algorithms and neural networks trained to analyze and understand patterns in existing data, and generate new content that closely resembles the original data.

This technology has found applications in numerous fields, such as art, music, and writing, with popular AI tools like OpenAI's ChatGPT.

Examples of generative AI tools
  1. ChatGPT: An AI-powered chatbot by OpenAI, which can generate human-like text responses, from simple one-sentence answers to multi-paragraph articles and essays, based on user input. The free version of ChatGPT uses GPT version 3.5.
  2. Bard: Bard is a conversational generative artificial intelligence chatbot developed by Google, developed as a direct response to ChatGPT.
  3. Bing: Bing’s search engine incorporates an AI chatbot that uses the most recent and powerful version of ChatGPT, 4.0. Responses can include citations and have a higher level of accuracy and complexity.
  4. MidJourney: Midjourney generates images from prompts submitted by users through an integration on Discord.
  5. DALL-E: Another image generation AI tool created by OpenAI.
  6. Synthesia: An AI tool that generates video content using user prompts.
  7. Amper Music: An AI tool that generates musical compositions using user prompts.

What's Prisma?

  • Prisma is an accredited, project-based, online program for kids in grades 4-12.
  • We exist to ignite a lifelong love of learning and prepare kids to thrive in the future.
  • Our middle school, high school, and parent-coach programs provide personalized curriculum, 1:1 support from educators, and cohorts where kids build community.

Artificial Intelligence in Education

AI technology has the potential to transform education through personalized learning, improved student engagement, and reduced workload for educators. The growth of AI in edtech has led to the development of tools that can assist teachers in lesson planning, grading, and identifying students' strengths and weaknesses.

However, there are concerns about AI's impact on education, such as the risk of over-reliance on technology, plagiarism, decline in writing & critical thinking skills, potential biases in AI algorithms, and data privacy issues.

While AI can offer students a more interactive and engaging learning experience, it is crucial to carefully consider and address these concerns to ensure a balanced and effective integration of AI in education.

How might generative AI tools change education in the short term?

Generative AI tools are already changing the education and education technology fields in the following ways:

  1. Transforming writing instruction and assessment: Because generative AI tools like ChatGPT can produce essays, written responses, and exam answers, there is the potential of AI to do students’ assignments for them. There isn’t a clear answer yet as to what kind of use of AI tools constitutes plagiarism. Some school districts have banned AI entirely, and others have written academic honesty policies that incorporate a viewpoint on AI. Some teachers have moved to in-class writing assignments or oral examinations rather than traditional writing assignments to address these concerns. Some have argued that these advancements will permanently transform how humans write, meaning we may not need to teach writing the same way anymore. Others disagree, and argue that the act of organizing one’s thoughts into writing without the assistance of artificial intelligence is essential for developing critical thinking skills. There is much more thinking to do on these topics, and no consensus yet.
  2. Providing personalized learning experiences: AI-powered tools have the potential to analyze students' learning patterns and adapt the content accordingly, ensuring that learners receive targeted support and resources based on their unique needs. Sal Khan of Khan Academy has developed a tool called Khanmingo that he claims could revolutionize education through AI-powered tutoring. Other promising tools for personalization include Pressto, a generative AI tool that teaches kids how to write, and Cognii, a virtual learning assistant that walks kids through concepts. Simple interactive chatbots like ChatGPT can also facilitate real-world, problem-based learning and encourage student participation through personalized feedback, question prompts, and more.
  3. Reducing workload for educators: AI tools can assist with grading, lesson planning, and administrative tasks, giving teachers more time to focus on nurturing students' growth and creativity. Many of this can be done through simple free tools like ChatGPT. At Prisma, our curriculum design team has used ChatGPT to differentiate & generate texts for different reading levels, produce lesson plan ideas, and more. However, there have also been some specialized tools developed for teachers.

Here are some AI tools for teachers that may help reduce workload:

  1. Education Copilot provides AI-generated templates for lesson plans, writing prompts, educational handouts, student reports, and project outlines.
  2. Yippity can turn text or a website into a quiz automatically.
  3. gotFeedback is an AI feedback tool integrated into the gotLearning platform. It can analyze student work and provide a starting point for individualized feedback.
  4. FormativeAI integrates ChatGPT to help teachers generate standard-aligned questions and hints for learners.
  5. Parlay Genie is a generator for higher-order thinking questions based on a topic, a YouTube video, or an article.

How might generative AI tools change education in the long term?

The future of AI is uncertain. In just the past year, the pace of advancements has been so fast that many people are concerned that society has not adequately prepared for how AI will transform our institutions, industries, and day-to-day lives. Similar to the development of the Internet in the 90s, we know this new technology will majorly transform the world, but we can only make predictions as to how.  

In the long term, generative AI tools may have the potential to reshape the education system by:

  1. Changing the role of the teacher: We don’t know yet how far AI will go in replacing human workers. Some theorize that AI will eventually replace all workers, and others argue that a “human touch” is needed in most fields, including education. However, we can safely assume that as AI becomes able to transmit instruction, give feedback, and personalize the learning experience, the role of teachers will change. At Prisma, we call our teachers “learning coaches” because they serve more as mentors, guides, and motivators. Perhaps this change will be more widespread across education as AI advances.
  2. Evolving the goal of curriculum: Traditionally, the purpose of education has been to prepare students for the workforce. If artificial intelligence changes what kinds of jobs are available, education will need to evolve to meet those changing needs. We’ll need to shift learning outcomes to emphasize real-world skills that aren’t suited to being done by AI tools, such as collaboration, generating unconventional ideas, and working with AI effectively. Some futurists might say even those jobs will eventually be done by AI. In that case, the curriculum will need to evolve even more, to prepare learners to live a life of joy, health, and happiness outside of the traditional workforce.
  3. Accelerating lifelong learning: If all learners have access to AI tools from a young age, that can personalize the learning experience to their needs, strengths, and passions, it has the potential to massively multiply what they can learn and achieve over time. If we as a society don’t let AI tools make us complacent and comfortable with them doing the bare minimum for us, we can accomplish more than we ever would have before.

How might we teach learners to use AI?

Best Practices for this New Technology

Although some school districts have banned AI in fear of plagiarism and a reduction in critical thinking, at Prisma, we believe this approach is unwise. Similarly to the introduction of the calculator as it relates to math instruction, we believe that artificial intelligence is a tool that shouldn’t be ignored, even if it isn’t appropriate for students to use all the time. Students will be experimenting with AI tools on their own time regardless, so we believe it’s better for schools to take on the responsibility of teaching learners when and how to use these tools.

If you're a parent, in addition to the suggestions below, we recommend checking out this article on ways to experiment with AI at home.

Here are the best practices we recommend for teachers and school leaders:

  1. Draft an AI policy for your school or classroom. In this policy, outline your school’s beliefs about AI, including how the tool should be used by learners, teachers, and administrators. We recommend this policy include 1) a stance on when and whether use of AI tools constitutes plagiarism, 2) guidance on when it is appropriate for learners to use AI tools, 3) guidelines for smart use of AI tools, such as checking citations, proper prompt engineering, and using AI as a starting place rather than a final product. Keep this policy brief, share it with parents, and revise it as the technology evolves.
  2. Run AI-focused professional development for teachers. Giving educators space and time to experiment with and discuss this new technology is essential. Keeping it casual is fine! There should be no pressure to find or be an “expert” in AI since the tools are evolving so rapidly. Consider setting aside time to just play around with the tools together and brainstorm ways the tools could be used.
  3. Don’t use tools that claim they can detect AI plagiarism. These tools are not foolproof, and that’s speaking generously. (Example: The US Constitution recently failed a check by one of them!) They can lull teachers into a false sense of security, and end up in false accusations of academic dishonesty. Instead, learn how to identify the hallmarks of AI-generated text yourself, and make sure you know your students’ writing well enough to tell when they deviate from their usual voice. Have a conversation with a learner if you suspect they’ve used AI in a dishonest way. This guide from Quill and CommonLit is helpful.
  4. Abandon assignments that AI can easily do wherever possible. Take an inventory of your curriculum and assignments. Experiment with pasting your assignment prompts into ChatGPT and seeing what the chatbot comes up with. At Prisma, our project-based curriculum with writing embedded as steps in a hands-on, real-world project makes it challenging for learners to simply pop their homework into ChatGPT. (It’s much easier to ask ChatGPT to write a 5-paragraph essay on the themes in Romeo and Juliet than it is to ask it to write a reflection on your design process building a model of a new invention).

AI Lesson Plan Ideas

Your starting place for developing AI lesson plans will depend on your subject area and the age of your learners. Here are a few ideas to get you going, broken out by learner age.

Elementary school learners:

  1. Have a discussion about AI. Young learners may be tempted to personify the AI tools. Make clear that the tools are not human and do not think the same way humans do (avoid using humanlike language to describe the AI tool, such as “he/she/they,” “it feels,” “it wants,” “it knows,” etc.).
  2. AI Storytelling: With supervision, use AI tools to generate creative story prompts and encourage students to write their stories based on those ideas. Or, ask an AI to generate a short story and critique the story together. How could it be made more interesting?
  3. AI Art: Take drawings your students have created on their own, and use them as a springboard to generate AI images. Or, use AI to generate images in the style of a famous artist and ask learners to identify what commonalities they see in the images.
  4. AI Tutoring: As a class, collaboratively ask a chatbot questions about a topic of interest or a tricky concept. Encourage learners to generate follow-up questions until they understand.

Middle school learners:

  1. Middle school learners may be able to handle more independence when it comes to AI Tutoring. Encourage them to work through tricky math problems or scientific concepts independently with a chatbot, then come back together as a class to discuss how helpful what they received was. Encourage students to trade prompts that were helpful in problem-solving with each other.
  2. AI Writing Revisions: When teaching writing concepts like tone and voice, have students use ChatGPT to show how prompts like “revise this writing to have a more casual tone” or “revise this writing in the voice of Dr. Seuss” impact the text. Make sure to discuss the limitations of the tool. Compare a beautifully-written text from an author you are studying to AI-generated text, and point out to the learners that AI text typically sounds more generic.
  3. Social Media and AI: Discuss the impact of AI on social media platforms and explore the ethical considerations of AI algorithms in shaping online experiences. Learners of this age may be highly susceptible to manipulated images and videos and should be taught to question what they see.
  4. History of New Technologies: Compare and contrast this new development to other historical eras where technological advancements transformed human life, such as the invention of the printing press, steam engine, or cotton gin. How has human labor evolved in similar periods in the past? How can this learning be used to predict our future?

High school & college-aged learners:

  1. AI programming: Introduce students to programming languages used in AI development and engage them in coding exercises. They can also take online certifications in machine learning, prompt engineering, and more as electives.
  2. AI ethics and society: Plan open discussions and debates about the potential benefits and drawbacks of AI, covering topics like privacy, job displacement, and bias. You could use science fiction stories as a springboard for evaluating potential long-term implications of AI.
  3. AI tool documentation: Higher level writers should be expected to use AI tools as a starting place for their writing, not as an end result. Require a written statement that accompanies projects and essays that acknowledges whether and how AI was used and how the learner augmented what the AI tool produced.

As artificial intelligence continues to advance, its role in education will only become more significant. Generative AI tools have the potential to revolutionize education by providing personalized learning experiences, enhancing student engagement, and supporting teachers in their creative and professional development.

By incorporating AI lesson plans and tools across various age groups, educators can prepare students for a future driven by AI technology and ensure they develop the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.

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