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AI lesson plans? I have adapted to Google Docs, which is great, but turned down AI -- for now

A bright future or a sense of doom?

Property of Harvard University

Though a septuagenarian, I still like to become conversant with the latest improvements in technology, particularly in education.

One superb educational advancement tool emanates from a company that I have come to despise: Google. However, their invention of Google Docs has proven to be very beneficial is my retirement career as a tutor for writing and other subjects.

Google Docs provides many benefits that others do not. It allows me to make suggestions that are on the side of the writing. Students can also forward to me their teacher or professor’s suggestions if they use Google Docs — many high schools do.

In addition, when I make suggestions to an essay or other writing, Google will send a message to the student informing him or her about the suggestions.

Grammarly can be adapted to this, which also can help — though they are not always correct.

However, when I discovered a suggestion for my tutoring session from a vendor, I drew the line.

Educators constantly need to improve

Because I appear to be balking at AI, I must make some provisos first. Teachers must always be willing to investigate new ideas and techniques. Some can turn out to be disasters, such as the infamous “open classrooms” of the 1970s, the “wave of the future,”

When they were designed in the 1970s, these rooms were considered the wave of the future. They would foster teamwork among teachers. Added bonus: They cost less to build than traditional rooms.

But now the rooms are little more than useless relics of a dated concept -- a reminder of how fads can grip the collective consciousness of the education establishment.

Open rooms tend to be noisy and susceptible to chaos, teachers say, creating a greater problem in crowded schools.

Decades after schools with open classrooms were erected, school districts everywhere are trying to add walls and doors, at a cost of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

Howard County converted its wide-open spaces into "flexible" rooms with removable walls.

Teachers found the open space distracting, as did children, especially those with learning disabilities or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Nancy Trejos, “ ‘70s open classrooms fail the test of time,” Washington Post, May 13, 2001

That criticism was written more than two decades ago, but this wave of the future turned into a disaster.

Many new approaches have been successful.

However, to place the writing of lesson plans in perspective, I will return to the 1970s when I learned from some excellent educators.

My education

I was not certain if I went to enter education when I was in college. After a year pursuing what I knew what not my calling, I changed directions.

Education had become my second option in life at Penn State, but I had taken all of the root courses for education if I wanted to come back to it.

What I needed was a few methods courses and student teaching, and with the help of my good friend Art Martynuska, I left my job with the federal government and entered summer school at St. Francis College (now University). There, I learned from two excellent members of their education department, Dr. Dick Crawford, the department chair, and Dr. Art Julian, who became my mentor with student teaching.

There, I learned how to write lesson plans with behavioral objectives, which were the norm at the time. Once I started teaching first as a student teacher in the fall of 1974 and then full-time in 1975, I followed that format for years.

In short, I had a solid foundation.

When I entered the academic challenge of teaching at the college level, I no longer used the behavioral aspect of the objectives, but I followed the syllabi and rubrics and long-term objectives in determining what to accomplish in a classroom.

With guidance from other educators, I learned how to adapt in that way — and use technology in a positive way

Then came tutoring

In retirement, I was bored and wanted to continue with education, though not in a classroom. I ultimately was led to electronic tutoring, which I thought I would dislike.

I was wrong. I love this, and I have become a much better educator because I have adapted and learned many new techniques.

However, I entered this challenge with trepidation: Fear.

Really, fear in my 70s? Yes.

First, I had concerns that I would not be able to relate to the young people because of my age. So, I adapted to that.

Second, I had always taught in a classroom, had never worked in an electronic environment. Would I be able to adapt?

Third, would I be able to tutor students from middle school through high school, college, and grad school. I had never taught anyone younger than 15, and most were at least 16.

One of my first students was just 13. I adapted.

I learned — and continued to improve. According to my students and parents, I am doing well.


First, I knew what I am trying to teach, even if I have never read certain texts or do not know exactly how teachers from across the U.S. and Canada are using very different approaches from what I did.

Knowledge conquers everything, and so far, my mental faculties are acute.

Second, I am willing to learn new skills. For instance, the majority of my students are bright and enrolled in AP or honors programs. However, many of them are ESL, English Second Language students.

In short, I knew nothing about teaching ESL students, but I know how to research and learn new techniques. It has worked.

The AI ESL lesson plan

I do not always know if a student is ESL, so I try to talk to parents prior to meeting with the students. They do not always offer than information, but I learn that many of them spoke another language for years before entering the U.S. and speaking English.

Most of these students are very bright and have superb futures ahead of them, but they struggle with the rudiments of the English language. Some of the parents of these students are M.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, top IT professionals, along with CEOs, VPs, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Their children are ordinarily superb in STEM subjects, often recording unbelievable scores on the SAT and ACT in the science and math areas.

This was something that was new to me, and I had to adapt.

So, when a young teenaged girl asked me for help with English, telling me that she had come from Asia just a year ago, I was offered an AI lesson plan.

I read it, but did not use it. Our first meeting was very different from what the AI plan envisioned, and it worked great. The lesson plan actually talked down to me. Perhaps if I was not a veteran teacher, I would not have been offended.

Still, I was because was trying to teach me techniques that I had learned from Drs. Crawford and Julian more than 40 years ago.

In short, this read like something came directly from a computer — which it did.

In short, it was worthless.

However, I have learned some many new ideas and techniques over the past two years that

I will not sweep AI under the carpet.

Instead, I will play it by ear — as I have since 1974.

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