AI in the Classroom

One-on-one coaching … with a chatbot

I'm writing a personal narrative about my baseball season.
That sounds like a home run of an idea! To start, how did you feel during the season? Maybe think about a specific game that was really exciting. Can you tell me about it?

It’s a typical idea development conversation, the type that teachers have with students all the time. Except it’s not. This sixth grader is being coached by a chatbot.

The conversation took place in Kerrie Ghiozzi’s sixth grade English language arts class. She’s one of several teachers at John Jay Middle School who is using SchoolAI—an artificial intelligence tool created for schools. She's enthusiastic about the platform's ability to provide students with one-on-one feedback. “Look around the room,” Ghiozzi motions towards students reading and writing on their laptops. “They’re all being coached.”

Hastings educators visit

Sharing insights, thinking through questions

Katonah-Lewisboro Schools is on the cutting edge of implementing SchoolAI, a platform which was released in August 2023, as well as several other AI tools. On April 15, a group of administrators and teachers from the Hastings School District visited to see how it looks.

The visit was arranged between Julia Drake, EdD, Katonah-Lewisboro's Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and Melissa Szymanski, EdD., Hastings Schools’ Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.  “AI is so new," said Dr. Drake. "Collaboration across districts increases all of our knowledge and powers best practices."

"Putting teachers with teachers is the best way to research new education tools,” said Dr. Szymanski.

Stressing importance of a secure digital environment

The tour guides were Chris Nelson, the District's director of technology, and Mike Sammartano, District staff developer, who coaches teachers in incorporating technology into learning.

Sammartano told the visitors that the impetus for Katonah-Lewisboro Schools’ licensing SchoolAI was ChatGPT—the most well-known, general market artificial intelligence platform. He recounted how earlier in the school year, through conversations with students at John Jay High School, he realized that they were using ChatGPT to do homework.

“We saw an immediate need to get AI out into the open,” said Sammartano,” and use it as a learning tool.”

He began visiting classroom and leading conversations with students and teachers about AI, how it works and how to use it in productive ways.

Nelson highlights the fact that SchoolAI is a secure environment. If a student enters something off topic into the chat, the bot redirects them, just like a human teacher. Teachers are also able to view each chat and note each students’ progress.

a high level of Student engagement

Hastings educators visited several middle school classes which were using various aspects of AI, as well as spoke with ninth grade English language arts teachers about student's exploration of the ethical ramifications of AI in education and beyond.

Guy Amdur’s sixth graders were using SchoolAI to help them evaluate the quality of their claims for literary essays. Teachers create a chatbot specific to each assignment, shaping what they want students to focus on and the type of feedback they want it to give. “The chatbot gives them feedback on their ideas,” said Amdur. “It’s one-on-one. They love using it.”

Sixth grade teacher Marcia Daley Savo said she used SchoolAI to create an avatar of an ancient Chinese scholar that the students could query for their research projects about ancient China. “You could hear a pin drop,” she said, describing how engaged the students were with that aspect of the research process.

AI is here to stay

“We have a lot planned to navigate this as a District,” Sammartano said to the visitors from Hastings Schools, before they left. He mentioned that he is running a cohort of teachers in taking a deep dive into all aspects of AI in education.

“One thing is for sure. It’s not going away. Let’s get it right.”