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An inside look at a 5th grade class using ChatGPT


With the rise of artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT, some teachers are concerned about plagiarism and cheating among students, leading some school districts to ban them.

Other teachers like Donnie Piercey, who teaches fifth graders in Lexington, Kentucky, are taking a different approach and turning to the online tool to help in the classroom.

“Like every other educator, I had this worry. Is this something that students will only use to cheat? So I started thinking, ‘OK, what role does AI – artificial intelligence – will she play in the classroom?'” Piercey, Kentucky’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, told “Good Morning America.” “And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there’s a lot more good that can happen through AI as opposed to the negative things that can come to the classroom.”

PHOTO: Teacher Donnie Piercey uses ChatGPT in the classroom at his school in Kentucky.

Teacher Donnie Piercey uses ChatGPT in the classroom at his school in Kentucky.

ABC News

ChatGPT, short for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, refers to an online chatbot service developed by the artificial intelligence company OpenAI. Users can enter complex questions and queries, similar to a search engine, and have the computer program generate answers, information, and even poetry.

Piercey decided to give ChatGPT a try and is now using the chatbot to generate prompts and exercises for students. For example, Piercey hosted “GMA” in his class and demonstrated how he used ChatGPT to create paragraphs which he then used in a grammar exercise with students, asking them to determine if the text was written by ChatGPT. or their classmates. He also used ChatGPT to generate custom games, which he then turned into reading exercises for students.

The veteran teacher said ChatGPT had its benefits and also helped to bring out students’ interest and creativity.

PHOTO: Donnie Piercey, a 17-year-old veteran teacher, told "CMG" he thinks ChatGPT has helped inspire creativity in his students.

Donnie Piercey, a 17-year-old veteran teacher, told “GMA” that he thinks ChatGPT has helped inspire his students to be creative.

ABC News

“The big thing I’ve been looking for as a teacher over the past 17 years is what I can bring to my lessons that inspire my students to be creative. With AI, with ChatGPT, I I’ve always been looking for a way that I can use this tool to inspire my students to be better students, to really master the content,” Piercey said.

Some of Piercey’s students say they think ChatGPT is here to stay and are open to adopting the tool.

“If it continues to develop, it’s basically typical of what this generation is doing right now,” fifth-grade student Isabella Whitice told “GMA.”

“If you keep the AI ​​like, safe, it’s going to be really helpful,” added Caleb Roberts, another fifth grader.

Nationwide, in Oregon, Tobin and Cherie Shields teach high school and college students and also use ChatGPT in their teaching.

“It’s going to make our education system more accurate and make it more interesting and more accessible and more creative, where I think a lot of educators think it’s going to do the opposite,” Tobin Shields told ‘GMA’.

Cherie Shields recently wrote an opinion piece for “Education Week” defending the use of the AI ​​tool.

“I think employers of the future are going to ask employees to work with AI,” she told ‘GMA’. “It’s just a life skill that we’re going to have to perpetuate if we want our students to be viable in the workplace.”

Some schools and teachers are expressing concern about ChatGPT

One of the hallmarks of ChatGPT and other similar services is its ability to find answers and perform simple tasks – writing an email or a plan in seconds, for example – but this usability and convenience factor worry some educators who say AI technology could lead to more cheating among students.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, previously told “GMA” that she was concerned about the rise of ChatGPT and AI tools in the schools.

“It’s scary because as teachers, we want kids to write whole paragraphs, but we want it to be their original work,” Weingarten said.

Some have already tried to limit the use of ChatGPT in schools, including public school districts in New York and Los Angeles.

Seattle Public Schools, meanwhile, banned ChatGPT in December, but then reversed course and allowed teachers to use ChatGPT as an educational tool.

“We can’t afford to ignore it,” district spokesman Tim Robinson told The Associated Press in late January.

Speaking to Axios earlier in January, Robinson said the district was concerned that students might be generating answers and content using the AI ​​system rather than brainstorming themselves. “Original thinking and original work are required of students, and the concern here is that sites like this may produce content that is not original,” he said at the time.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.