When ChatGPT was released at the end of 2022, people around the world trialed it (and other AI tools) with awe and trepidation. There was surprise and admiration at the ease it could generate texts and find solutions to complex problems. There was also concern that students may misuse it for written tasks. And, of course, there was the little voice at the back of our heads saying, "How long will my job exist?!"
Personally, I like to believe that teaching roles are safe. AI is fabulous in many ways, but us teachers have empathy and creativity on our side! We’re pretty awesome. And now we have AI to make us even more so!
In this post, I’ll explore 10 ways that teachers can use AI to their advantage to make their teaching even more fabulous and save time!
1. Example texts
AI can generate texts for a specific topic, level, and language focus. These texts are not always super engaging or creative, but they’re definitely functional. This can be really useful when you’re rushing to cover a lesson or when your lesson goes off on a tangent and you want something tailored to the students’ needs immediately.
You can, of course, generate the text in class with the students’ input and have them rewrite it, or you can add your own unique style to it. And if you need comprehension tasks too, AI will also generate these with answers.
2. Lesson planning
Planning what to teach is probably one of the most time-consuming tasks for teachers. Using Ellii materials is one of the simplest ways to reduce this time. A quick search of Ellii resources usually returns a number of options, but occasionally you’ll be searching for something a bit more obscure.
This is when you can ask AI to plan your lesson for you! I was surprised just how comprehensive a lesson plan it provided.
It gave the following information:
• Introduction activities
• Vocabulary activities
• Grammar activities
• Final reflection
• Homework tasks
• Assessment ideas
• Extension activity suggestion
3. Extension activity ideas
Finding the perfect activity to match the lesson topic can sometimes be tricky. AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT or Bard, can give suggestions.
Take this Ellii sample lesson on Online Privacy, for example. It’s already pretty comprehensive with a reading text, comprehension questions, vocabulary review, discussion and debate topics, and a written task. Perhaps you want to review the topic in your next session with the class, but you’re not sure how.
These prompts returned the following activity suggestions:
- A debate (which students would already have done)
- A role-play for a data breach response team (sounds fun)
- A news report about an online privacy scandal (intriguing)
4. Homework ideas
Much like extension activities for inside the classroom, AI tools can help you create and select tasks for outside the classroom. Asking for a specific number of tasks will provide you with a selection of options to choose from.
This prompt gave the following ideas on the topic of "accidents":
• Accident story rewrite: Rewrite a story about an accident they or someone else had.
• Accident timeline: Draw a timeline with key moments. Write sentences to describe each one.
• Accident interview: Interview someone about an accident they or someone else had.
5. Vocabulary lists
One of the things I love most about Ellii is that you can create your own flashcard deck. With 4,500+ flashcards to choose from, deciding which words to focus on can sometimes be a challenge.
You could use one of Ellii’s lessons for inspiration, or you could ask an AI tool for ideas.
6. Mnemonic ideas
Spelling in English is notoriously difficult, so we need to give students strategies to help them remember. Mnemonics are a great way to do this, but they can be tricky to create, especially at lower levels when vocabulary is limited.
I used this prompt with ChatGPT:
It suggested "Funny Rabbits In Every Neighborhood Dance," which is pretty good. Though I feel that "neighborhood" might be a bit difficult for some learners. I’d perhaps change it to "Funny Rabbit Is Eating New Dinner" or work together with the students to create their own, using AI to help them.
7. Apply for a job
AI can provide helpful support with creating CVs, cover letters, or personal statements. You can enter your specification, plus your skills, qualities, and experience, and ask it to generate text suited to you.
It’s obviously wise to use the generated text as a guide and to add your own personality!
8. Answer tricky questions
We’ve all been there. That moment when a student asks you something really hard and you think, "I have no idea!"
We can always throw these questions back at the class and see if another student can provide the answer or swot up (British English slang meaning study intensively) on the topic before the next class.
Now teachers can sneakily ask AI during a quiet moment in class or get students involved in creating their own AI prompt to find the answer.
9. Give feedback
Teachers can copy and paste students’ written work into AI chatbots and ask them to grade it or give feedback. The tools can give advice on grammar, vocabulary, style, punctuation, and structuring. Teachers can then decide which suggestions they’d like to share with the learner.
Alternatively, teachers can do this with the student present to show learners how to use AI to improve their own work.
10. Support learner autonomy
Training students to use AI effectively can help them be more self-directed and ensure that they’re not tempted to submit AI-generated work instead of their own. This reduces the time that teachers spend checking homework so they can support learners in other ways. Here is a related post on Developing Learner Autonomy with AI.
Did you know #Elliicon2023 is AI-themed this year? We have some incredible speakers who will be exploring humanity and technology in ELT. Join us for free on September 14 and 15!
How do you use AI to help you as a teacher? We’d love to know how you’re using it! Share your ideas in the comments.