AI within the Classroom — Educators Share Their Private Challenges and Successes

AI within the Classroom — Educators Share Their Private Challenges and Successes

AI Explorations and Their Sensible Use in College Environments is an ISTE initiative funded by Normal Motors. By means of skilled studying alternatives for educators, this system is designed to organize at the moment’s college students for tomorrow’s AI careers.

Not too long ago, we spoke with three contributors of the AI Explorations program to study its impression in Okay-12 school rooms. These modern educators mentioned the challenges of finishing this system and their experiences planning and implementing AI curriculum of their courses.

Coral Zayas

Coral Zayas is the brand new elementary educational assist specialist for science in Crowley ISD’s iNetwork of faculties. She was an ISTE-GM AI Explorations program yr 2 participant and has since applied initiatives from the Fingers-On AI Initiatives for the Classroom guides in her bilingual courses in Leander, Texas.

ISTE: What motivated you to affix the AI Explorations PD program?

Zayas: I knew that it was an ideal probability to be taught from different educators and consultants within the area. The entire ISTE teams have phenomenal educators. So, I used to be motivated to take the business and peer information after which carry it into my classroom.

We are likely to name AI rising tech in Okay-12 or increased ed. However I do know that these applied sciences have existed exterior of the training area for much longer. And I get to carry that business info to my college students and assist them make these real-world connections.

That is why we did an AI unit final yr—to point out college students this new and exploding area of know-how and pc science in school and assist them see these connections. The youthful I can get them concerned about rising fields like synthetic intelligence, the extra publicity they will have. Then, they will develop their curiosity in taking different STEM programs as they proceed in center faculty and highschool. I believe it’s significant to carry what we see exterior of training into the classroom.

When did you begin implementing your personal AI initiatives primarily based on what you realized within the AI Explorations program?

I acquired to show a model new course in our district final faculty yr. We had been piloting and exploring a STEM course for sixth grade college students. We had a pc science unit that was constructed into the course. So, I informed my sixth grade teammates about my curiosity in synthetic intelligence and requested, “Do you thoughts if I add a mini-unit that we are able to connect to the pc science course, which focuses on synthetic intelligence?” They had been very enthusiastic about it, and so they stated, “Sure! Let’s attempt it!”

Utilizing quite a lot of sources, I created about 4 weeks of AI classes with totally different actions. My class had an attention-grabbing dialogue primarily based on “How I’m Fighting Bias in Algorithms.” The ISTE-GM AI Explorations network helped connect me to other resources outside of the course, too. One of the things that the Facebook group shared was MIT’s new AI and CS community for educators. I was able to get access to many lessons on artificial intelligence and implement those lessons in the mini-unit as well. I used quite a few of MIT resources like Dancing with AI and Zhuori, as well as ISTE resources.

What were the ISTE resources that you included?

We used some of the lessons from the free elective teachers’ guide and the guide for secondary teachers. I also combined some resources to match what we were working on at school, for example, UN sustainable development goals, which we worked on in other projects in the STEM course. We combined those lessons to reiterate other learning experiences, connecting them to artificial intelligence.

Amanda Bailey

Amanda Bailey is an African-American team leader of the ISTE-GM AI Explorations program and the district technology coordinator for Crescent Academy in Southfield, MI. Crescent Academy is a Title 1 school that serves 90-99 percent African-American students. Amanda’s team developed a capstone project for elementary students: AI and Machine Learning for 5th Graders.

ISTE: You started the AI Explorations program during the pandemic. Can you discuss some of the challenges you experienced? How did you get through them?

Bailey: At first, looking at what was expected of us, I thought, “I can’t finish this.” And then I said, “No, you’re not going to give up, you can do this, you’re working from home…” So, I just made the time, even if it was 30 minutes here and there.

I set a virtual meeting schedule with my teammates, Matthew Blacker and Rasahn McCombs. And we all collaborated via Google Docs or Slides before and during the meetings. Then, we came back together and met before the due dates. Once we did it the first week and got the hang of everything, it was a lot better.

My team supported me a lot. Having that support of the whole group on the ISTE platform, connecting with other groups and team leaders, and especially having Steven Jones as our coach helped me a lot. Steven was really supportive and made himself available whenever we had questions.

Now that you’ve completed the AI Explorations PD program, will you be implementing an AI learning project?

I have plans for a maker space that is going to launch in January. I want to incorporate tools and resources from Google Earth, Tinkercad,, ScratchJr and others to be used with Chromebooks and iPads. This space will be for the Pre-K through first grade levels.

I am sorting through the tools that I learned about from the ISTE-GM AI Explorations program and trying to figure out how to help teachers use them with their students. I would like this to be inquiry-based design and based on challenges as the instructional guideline—using tools and resources I find in those AI Explorations course modules that fit the guideline.

Would you please share your experience supporting a district with a large proportion of students of color?

In the past, materials were limited and supplies were limited. Teachers didn’t have sufficient knowledge. And, just as I was getting ready to train my teachers, the pandemic happened. So now, I hope to use what we have available to help the teachers in my district support our students.

When I was getting my degree in educational technology, I learned that you always consider what you have first and what you can do to modify it. Not every school has a Mac or iPad for every student. Using what you have to make it work is important. I am able to do that with the content of the AI Explorations course. I am excited to help teachers teach coding while telling a story, thinking about how we can intertwine literacy and STEM. For example, ScratchJr is one thing I want to do in the maker space. We don’t have to build a robot. Let’s just use what we have available to get students to think, tinker, play and test their ideas. Play is the highest form of research. I want to take pieces of hands-on experience from the course and apply those STEM concepts.

Eamon Marchant

Eamon Marchant is a forward-thinking high school teacher, coach, site tech coordinator and science department chair at Gretchen Whitney High School in California. He was an ISTE-GM AI Explorations program year 2 participant and has since been teaching about AI topics in his AP CSP class. His site also offers an advanced high school course focused on developing and programming AI applications.

ISTE: What sort of challenges have you met when implementing AI lessons and projects with your students?

Marchant: There are a couple of difficult little things. One of them is that many AI lessons are accessible, but they are very distant from the actual code itself—far away from the actual work it would take to make something. The kids pick up on that. When I show kids something simple—for example, the Machine Learning for Kids site and Google tools like Teachable Machine—they understand it, and they like the ideas behind it. But, there’s a lack of satisfaction when they can’t build something themselves.

To find ways to make students think, not only “Can I use this tool?” but “I can build tools myself,” there’s still a deficit of resources. And it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just a challenging jump with all the math and code that goes behind it. And I am still trying to figure out ways to bridge that gap.

How do you help students face those challenges?

Our strategy is a two-pronged approach. We use Machine Learning for Kids to just have them get comfortable with the concepts first. Then, when they go on to our AI-focused class, they start from the absolute fundamentals of programming. So, they begin with organizing lists and learning Python syntax. From there, they can work their way out to writing a neural net.

We want to see if they can connect the dots when they get to the end of the course. Hopefully, I’ll be able to say that they put together all the things they learned and understand it this year, but that’s conceptual.

Where do you most often see students struggle when learning AI?

Download the free Hands-On AI Projects for the Classroom guides to start engaging your students in AI creation today.

I think the biggest hurdle for many students is that, when they first dive into using AI as a tool, especially from the code approach, a lot of them aren’t used to a computer not doing what they want it to. Most computer programs they’ve been using are either super intuitive or super forgiving. But writing code isn’t like that. So, when they have an idea written out, but it doesn’t work, it’s a whole new type of frustration for many of them.

This is something new that they have to face. If this was a math class, and they got a problem wrong, that’s okay. They can still turn in their homework the next day with that wrong solution. They might not even know that it’s wrong. However, this is a different case. If the program doesn’t run, it just doesn’t run. Often, students feel like they can’t turn in something that doesn’t run. I have to convince them that they can, knowing that I will at least give some credit for their effort.

Any AI learning resources you’d like to recommend to educators?

Some of my personal favorites are Experiments with Google, Blob Opera and Magenta.

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