In the AI age, it’s time to change how we teach and grade writing

In the AI age, it’s time to change how we teach and grade writing

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images “I found myself spending so much time looking for cheating that I missed the most important aspect of my grading: the ideas that students were actually coming up with,” writes Matthew Fulford. First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others thinking and public education. Many adults fear that, at some point, the skills they have spent years mastering may suddenly become obsolete. My father, an art teacher and darkroom aficionado, railed against digital photography in the early 2000s as the downfall of an art form he held (and still holds) dear. He retired before the transformation of his darkroom into a classroom computer lab and many years before the revival of film photography from Gen Z kids seeking authenticity in the smartphone age. Courtesy photo Matthew Fulford In 19th-century England, Luddites similarly protested textile machinery by famously smashing the expensive devices. Their outcry captured the imagination of many who feared that we were becoming, as the Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle put it, “mechanical in head and heart.” As someone who loves to write almost as much as I enjoy teaching students how to do so effectively, the arrival of Chat GPT in my Denver classroom last semester has placed me in a similar predicament. Within a few weeks, everything I knew about writing, plagiarism, student accountability, and grading was tested. I made a number of mistakes in a short time, and I realized that if we continue to treat the use of AI as plagiarism, we're all doomed to fail. Instead, we need to question the fundamentals of how we teach writing in high school and examine what we're grading when we read student writing. “What's the point of writing anymore if we now have browser extensions to do it for us? I mean, why am I even teaching this?” I asked my tech-worker friend when I was at my lowest. “Writing as we know it is dead!” “Not exactly,” he said, explaining that because AI relies on human-created content to generate answers, it, therefore, depends […]

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