Metacognition & Assessment as Learning, Teacher reflections, Teacher Support, Technology, Uncategorized

Is ChatGPT AI the Final Deathblow to the 5 Paragraph Essay?

(or English writing assignments in general?)

The Problem

Many high school English classes use the 5 paragraph format as a major marked assignment for the unit or course. That is why I chose to analyze this formulaic writing piece, it is not the only type of assignment at risk.. Unfortunately, the use of AI may be just as rampant, regardless of the writing being assigned.

Plagiarism is not new to English classes. As English teachers, we have fought against the many ways students can easily plagiarize/cheat (use others’ ideas and writing as their own).   When I went to school in the 90s, this was relegated to copying someone else’s work, having them do it for you or using a book like Coles notes. Now, plagiarizing is as easy as using the internet.  Although it is also easier to prove. Material found on the internet are sometimes exactly what the assignment calls for, but more often than not, students still have to manipulate what they find to fit the assignment.  This mix of copied material and the students own words is disjointed, uses ideas/vocabulary or sentence structure beyond the students abilities, nd sometimes is just formatted differently. Word for word copied material is easier to catch too as the teacher can search a sentence in google or use a product like TurnItIn to detect plagiarism. This gives the teacher direct evidence t use t defend a case of plagiarism.

The difference between these sources used for plagiarism and the new ChatGPT AI is that with AI, a student can give the tech a prompt (often quite intricate and detailed-see examples below) and the AI will create a uniquely worded answer using ideas it has found online. Ideas being harder to prove as plagiarized (unless they are written in a level/style beyond the students capabilities-although the AI writes at an appropriate level for most high school students and can be adjusted to different levels in the prompt-see examples below). The amazing thing about the AI is that it does not not just provide one response, it can generate as many unique responses as the person requesting wants (by simply clicking the regenerate button). I have tried up to 10 responses and each was written unique (voice, word choice, sentence structure, organization…). I have even closed the program and reentered it using the same prompt and the AI produced even more unique reposes Some of the new responses even include entirely new ideas. And takes only second to generate a new response.

Teachers are getting worried, and with reason.  There has always been plagiarism, but “suspected plagiarism” is only as good as the method used to prove it, and the means (google search or plagiarism products) by which we have proven plagiarism have become inefftive.

How the ChatGTP works

The more specific your prompt, the easier it is for the AI to generate a “good” answer. See the examples below

The prompt used in this analysis: Write an essay explaining why the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet?

The 5 paragraph essay guidelines given to students, which the prompt will have to mimic or be altered to fit. See the image below:

Essay Checklist

Content
GOS
Harnessing
Thesis
Topic sentences (introduces topic and writers opinion)
Points (argues opinion)
Quotes (from short story, using proper MLA format)
Quotes are integrated and formatted correctly
Explanations (quote in own words, explains how it fits in with point)
Concluding sentences (restates opinion in new words)
Thesis restated
Arguments restated
GCS
Style
Use third-person omniscient point of view (*do not use personal pronoun – I, my, me, our etc.)
Use a moderate style of writing (no slang but you may use contractions – can’t, wouldn’t etc.) 
Use transitions words to make your story connect – First, then, suddenly, finally etc. (see handout)
Format
Use MLA (Modern Languages Association) Format
12 point font
Times New Roman font
Double space entire document
Include student/instructor/course code/date in top left-hand corner
Include header (student’s surname) on second page
Centre title
Do not bold, underline, or enlarge title

A generic rubric that could be used to mark a 5 paragraph essay (generated by ChatGPT):

Knowledge:
Level 4: Demonstrates a thorough understanding of the literary work and its themes
Level 3: Demonstrates a strong understanding of the literary work and its themes
Level 2: Demonstrates a basic understanding of the literary work and its themes
Level 1: Demonstrates a limited understanding of the literary work and its themes

Application:
Level 4: The 5 paragraph structure and MLA formatting are consistently and accurately applied throughout the essay. Process work demonstrates a strong attention to detail and effort.
Level 3: The 5 paragraph structure and MLA formatting is mostly accurate, but may have a few minor errors. Process work is evident, but may not be as thorough as in Level 4.
Level 2: The 5 paragraph structure and MLA formatting is somewhat inconsistent or has multiple errors. Process work is present, but may be limited or not fully reflected in the final product.
Level 1: The 5 paragraph structure and MLA formatting is consistently incorrect or not applied at all.
Process work is not evident or not reflected in the final product.

Communication:
Level 4: Writing is clear, well-organized, and effectively conveys the analysis of the literary work
Level 3: Writing is generally clear and organized, but may have some minor errors or could be more effectively conveying the analysis of the literary work
Level 2: Writing is somewhat clear and organized, but may have some errors or lacks effective analysis of the literary work
Level 1: Writing is unclear, poorly organized, and lacks effective analysis of the literary work

Thinking:
Level 4: Demonstrates critical thinking and analysis by thoroughly evaluating the evidence and making well-supported claims
Level 3: Demonstrates some critical thinking and analysis by evaluating the evidence and making somewhat supported claims
Level 2: Demonstrates limited critical thinking and analysis by presenting evidence without proper evaluation or making unsupported claims
Level 1: Demonstrates little or no critical thinking and analysis by failing to present evidence or make logical claims

AI Generated Responses:

1st Attempt:

AI prompt: Why are the adults in romeo and juliet to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet?

“There are a few reasons why the adults in Romeo and Juliet might be considered to be to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. One reason is that they are unable to resolve the ongoing feud between their families, which ultimately leads to the tragic chain of events that results in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Additionally, the adults in the play are often rigid and unwilling to bend the rules or consider alternative solutions, which only serves to further escalate the conflict and contribute to the tragic outcome. Finally, the adults in the play are often overbearing and controlling, and their attempts to manipulate and control the lives of Romeo and Juliet ultimately contribute to the tragic events that unfold.”

Not a 5 paragraph essay, but it does answer the question and is well written/argued. The prompt would have to be refined to fit assignment expectations. I will leave it to you to decide what mark it would receive on the above rubric.

2nd attempt:

AI prompt: Write a 5 paragraph essay for Why are the adults in Romeo and Juliet to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet?

“The adults in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet are largely to blame for the tragic deaths of the titular characters. The first and most prominent adult responsible is Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father. Despite the fact that Juliet is only thirteen years old, he insists on arranging her marriage to the County Paris, a man she does not love. When Juliet pleads with her father to allow her to marry Romeo, the man she does love, he refuses and becomes angry and abusive towards her. This pressure from her father leads Juliet to take desperate measures, ultimately resulting in her death.

Another adult who bears responsibility is Friar Laurence, who is supposed to be a guiding and wise presence in the lives of the young lovers. However, he makes several mistakes that contribute to their deaths. He agrees to secretly marry Romeo and Juliet, knowing full well that their families are enemies. He also gives Juliet a potion that will make her appear dead, hoping that this will reconcile the families and allow her to be with Romeo. Unfortunately, the plan goes awry and Juliet wakes up in the Capulet tomb to find Romeo dead by her side. In her grief, she takes her own life.

The adults in the play also contribute to the tragic outcome through their ongoing feud. The Capulets and the Montagues have been engaged in a bitter dispute for generations, and the adults in both families are more concerned with preserving their pride and upholding their honor than they are with the well-being of their children. Their refusal to reconcile and put an end to the feud directly leads to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Finally, the adults in the play fail to provide a supportive and loving environment for the young lovers. Juliet’s mother is distant and uncaring, and Romeo’s parents are not present in the play at all. Without any adult guidance or support, Romeo and Juliet are forced to navigate their tumultuous relationship on their own, leading to their tragic end.

In conclusion, the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the deaths of the young lovers due to their refusal to allow Juliet to marry for love, Friar Laurence’s missteps, their ongoing feud, and their failure to provide a loving and supportive environment for the couple.”

It is a 5 paragraph essay, but it does not fit the formula given to students. I will leave it to you to decide what mark it would receive on the above rubric. Prompt needs to be refined.

3rd Attempt:

AI prompt:
Why are the adults in Romeo and Juliet to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet? Write a 5 paragraph essay. The introduction should have a general opening statement about the topic, a harnessing statement, and a thesis. The three body paragraphs should include two arguments with mla formatted quotes to back up your answer. The conclusion should have a restatement of the thesis in new words, a list of the main arguments, and a general closing statement about the topic.

“Introduction:

The tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet have been the subject of much debate and speculation over the years. Many people have pointed fingers at the young lovers, blaming them for their own demise. However, it is important to consider the role that the adults in the story played in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. This essay will argue that the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the death of the two lovers.

First, the feud between the Capulet and Montague families, which was fueled by the hatred and pride of the adult members, played a major role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. As Romeo says, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.309). The hatred between the two families created an atmosphere of violence and danger, forcing Romeo and Juliet to keep their love a secret and ultimately leading to their tragic end.

Second, the adults in the story also failed to provide guidance and support for Romeo and Juliet as they navigated their tumultuous relationship. The Nurse, who was supposed to be Juliet’s confidant and adviser, ultimately betrayed her by helping to arrange her marriage to Paris. Friar Laurence, who was supposed to be a mentor and guide for Romeo, also made poor decisions that contributed to the young lovers’ deaths, such as helping Romeo escape to Mantua and not informing Juliet of the plan.

Finally, the adults in Romeo and Juliet showed a lack of understanding and empathy towards the young lovers, choosing instead to prioritize their own desires and interests. Lord Capulet, for example, was more concerned with preserving his family’s reputation than with the happiness of his daughter. As a result, he forced Juliet to marry Paris, causing her to take desperate measures that ultimately led to her death.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the death of the two lovers. The feud between the Capulet and Montague families, the adults’ failure to provide guidance and support, and their lack of understanding and empathy towards Romeo and Juliet all contributed to the tragic end of the young lovers. It is a cautionary tale of the dangers of letting hatred and selfishness guide our actions and the importance of compassion and understanding in relationships.”

It did an OK job but does not include the two points with quotes and explanations per paragraph required in our formula. I will leave it to you to decide what mark it would receive on the above rubric. The prompt needs to be adjusted.

4rth Attempt:

AI prompt: Why are the adults in Romeo and Juliet to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet? Write a 5 paragraph essay. The introduction should have a general opening statement about the topic, a harnessing statement, a thesis, and three thesis supports. Body paragraph one should include two mla formulated quotes with explanations to back up the answer. Body paragraph two should include two mla formulated quotes with explanations to back up the answer. Body paragraph three should include two mla formulated quotes with explanations to back up the answer. The conclusion should have a restatement of the thesis in new words, a list of the main arguments, and a general closing statement about the topic.

“Introduction:

The tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet have been the subject of much debate and speculation over the years. Many people have pointed fingers at the young lovers, blaming them for their own demise. However, it is important to consider the role that the adults in the story played in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. This essay will argue that the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the death of the two lovers, and will support this thesis with three main points.

First, the feud between the Capulet and Montague families, which was fueled by the hatred and pride of the adult members, played a major role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. As Romeo says, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.309). The hatred between the two families created an atmosphere of violence and danger, forcing Romeo and Juliet to keep their love a secret and ultimately leading to their tragic end. This is further emphasized by the Prince of Verona, who says, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.318-320). The Prince recognizes that the hatred between the two families is the root cause of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Second, the adults in the story also failed to provide guidance and support for Romeo and Juliet as they navigated their tumultuous relationship. The Nurse, who was supposed to be Juliet’s confidant and adviser, ultimately betrayed her by helping to arrange her marriage to Paris. As Juliet says, “O God, O nurse, how shall this be prevented? My husband is on earth, my faith in heaven. How shall that faith return again to earth, unless that husband send it me?” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.141-144). Juliet trusted the Nurse and relied on her for guidance, but the Nurse’s actions ultimately led to Juliet’s downfall. Friar Laurence, who was supposed to be a mentor and guide for Romeo, also made poor decisions that contributed to the young lovers’ deaths, such as helping Romeo escape to Mantua and not informing Juliet of the plan.

Finally, the adults in Romeo and Juliet showed a lack of understanding and empathy towards the young lovers, choosing instead to prioritize their own desires and interests. Lord Capulet, for example, was more concerned with preserving his family’s reputation than with the happiness of his daughter. As he says, “Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.138-140). Lord Capulet’s words show his lack of concern for Juliet’s feelings and his willingness to force her into a marriage that she does not want. As a result, Juliet was forced to take desperate measures that ultimately led to her death.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the adults in Romeo and Juliet are to blame for the death of the two lovers. The feud between the Capulet and Montague families, the adults’ failure to provide guidance and support, and their lack of understanding and empathy towards Romeo and Juliet all contributed to the tragic end of the young lovers. It is a cautionary tale of the dangers of letting hatred and selfishness guide our actions and the importance of compassion and understanding in relationships.”

Again, this is missing elements from the formula. I will leave it to you to decide what mark it would receive on the above rubric. More alterations turn into what looks like an outline rather than a complete essay., see below.

5th Attempt:

AI prompt: Why are the adults in Romeo and Juliet to blame for the death of Romeo and Juliet? Write a 5 paragraph essay. The introduction should have a general opening statement about the topic, a harnessing statement, and a thesis. The body paragraphs should include two arguments. Each argument should include an argument, an mla formatted quote, an explanation of the quote, and an explanation of how it proves the thesis. The conclusion should have a restatement of the thesis in new words, a list of the main arguments, and a general closing statement about the topic.

“Introduction:

The tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet have been the subject of debate for centuries, with many arguing that the adults in the story bear a significant amount of responsibility for the tragic outcome. The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, the hasty decisions of the young lovers, and the lack of communication and understanding between the adults all contribute to the ultimate demise of Romeo and Juliet. This essay will argue that the adults in the story, specifically the parents and Friar Lawrence, are to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet through their actions and inaction.

First argument: The longstanding feud between the Montagues and the Capulets is a significant factor in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. As the Prince of Verona says, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.306). This statement highlights the depth of the hatred between the two families and the destructive nature of their feud.

MLA formatted quote: “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” (Shakespeare 5.3.306)

Explanation of quote: The Prince’s statement suggests that the love story between Romeo and Juliet is one of great sorrow, likely due to the animosity between their families.

Explanation of how it proves the thesis: The quote shows that the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets is a major factor in the tragic events of the story and the deaths of the young lovers. The hostility between the families creates a barrier for Romeo and Juliet’s relationship and ultimately leads to their deaths.

Second argument: The hasty decisions made by Romeo and Juliet also contribute to their tragic end. The young lovers are impulsive and rash, making decisions without considering the consequences. For example, when Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Tybalt, Juliet says, “There is no world without Verona walls, but purgatory, torture, hell itself” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 3.2.107). This statement shows Juliet’s desperation and willingness to do whatever it takes to be with Romeo, even if it means defying her family and societal norms.

MLA formatted quote: “There is no world without Verona walls, but purgatory, torture, hell itself.” (Shakespeare 3.2.107)

Explanation of quote: Juliet’s statement illustrates her extreme love for Romeo and her willingness to go against societal expectations and her family’s wishes in order to be with him.

Explanation of how it proves the thesis: The quote demonstrates that Romeo and Juliet’s impulsive decisions, such as Juliet’s desire to be with Romeo despite the consequences, contribute to their tragic end. Their lack of forethought and consideration for the potential outcomes of their actions ultimately leads to their deaths.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the adults in Romeo and Juliet, specifically the parents and Friar Lawrence, bear a significant amount of responsibility for the tragic deaths of the young lovers. The longstanding feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and the hasty decisions made by Romeo and Juliet both contribute to their tragic end. The adults in the story fail to understand and communicate with the young lovers, leading to a series of events that ultimately result in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.”

It took me quite a while to develop a prompt that did a halfway decent job of meeting the assignment expectations. With the amount of effort required, it is unlikely a student looking for an easy way to cheat, by using AI, would be willing to put in the effort (or even be able to develop the prompt well enough) to say get a level 4 essay.

Students could, of course, take any of the AIs answer and alter the response fit the requirements. But at what point is that any different from using other online resources to hep generate ideas or find quotes or receiving your help to structure an argument of a sentence. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

The Solution

Having taught Romeo and Juliet quite a few times during my 15 years of teaching grade 10 academic English, I have encountered my fair share of plagiarism, forcing me to rethink how I taught and accessed the play.

Students and I would read the play together as a class, and as we read, we would discuss/ analyze the play together. 

For this unit (and in accordance with my team and the other units that are structured the same), I marked act quizzes based on questions completed during reading, gave a end of unit test, assigned an essay and a group presentation or a creative project (presented to the class).

Unit essays were worth 1/4 of the unit marks, and over the course of a year, essays accounted for 25% of the term marks.

So what can be done?

Use ChatGPT as a resource:

By the end of my time teaching Romeo and Juliet, I was giving students access to many resources that were once considered means to “cheating”. I shared:

  • Spark notes/Coles notes/No Fear Shakespeare/LitChart resources including analysis
  • Modern translations and graphic novels
  • Videos with synopsis and analysis
  • Audiobook with explanation and analysis…

The resources were out there, and students were finding/using them, so there was no use banning them.  The only way forward, for me, was to embrace them.

I also rethought my purpose in teaching and assessing the play.  I decided my goal was not to teach the play (have them memorize all the facts and minutia) but to teach the skills needed to read, understand and analyize a difficult text (any difficult text). This way, they would be able to do so without teacher support when the time came.

I used these resources in my teaching and taught students how to learn from and use them too. I also had them share anything they found that would be valuable, as a resource for the class. Since they were given permission to use any resource they found helpful, all resources were considered learned material (not cheating).

I also taught students how to cite their sources and paraphrase, as acknowledging when an idea is not originally yours is important for academic integrity. But any ideas repeated in multiple sources were considered universal knowledge and did not need to be cited.

Just as with the above resources, the solution to the AI problem may be to see it as a teaching/learning tool. Here are some ideas of how to incorporate it into an English class. use it to:

  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Look at alternative ways of structuring and wording an answer
  • Look up text quotes on their topic
  • Look up plot or character points
  • Look up additional ideas (as they would with Google) for in class activities once they have exhausted their own ideas
  • Look up vocabulary (definitions, how to use a word in a sentence, what part of speech a word is, synonyms…)
  • Rewrite work at a higher or lower level (e. Rewrite at a gr 2 level to convert to childrend book)
  • See how the same information can be written in various formats (chat rather than start a new prompt by responding to AIs answer). For example ask Ai: 1. To define a topic: (What is a slug? bullet, garden creature), 2. Write a _____ (poem, short story, news article…) and including above info; 3. rewrite the info as a_______ (chose a different form or use a different style). Have students choose their own topics or have everyone use the same prompts (their answers will be different). See examples below.
What is Philippino street dog?

A Philippine street dog is a type of stray dog that is common in the streets of the Philippines. These dogs are often found in urban areas, and they may be scavengers that survive by foraging for food in garbage bins or by begging for scraps from people. Philippine street dogs are known for their resilience and their ability to adapt to their surroundings. They are typically small to medium-sized dogs and may have short hair or long hair, depending on the breed. Some Philippine street dogs may be purebred, while others may be mixes of different breeds. It is not uncommon for these dogs to be unvaccinated and unsterilized, which can lead to overpopulation and health issues. Despite their circumstances, many Philippine street dogs are friendly and can make great pets with proper care and training.
Informational paragraph
Write a poem using the information above (a Philippino street dog)


The Philippine street dog roams free

Through the bustling city streets, you see

A scrappy little thing, tough and bold

Scavenging for scraps, never getting old


Their fur may be short, or long and shaggy

But their spirit is strong, never saggy

They may not have a home, or a bed to sleep in

But they make do, with resilience within


Friendly and kind, despite their rough start

They'd make a great pet, with a loving heart

So if you see one, on your daily stroll

Don't turn away, give them a pat and a stroll


For these Philippine street dogs deserve some love too

Just like any other, purebred or mixed breed, it's true

So let's give them a chance, and show some compassion

For the Philippine street dog, a scrappy little gem in action
Poem


Write a news paper article about a Philippino street dog


Manila, Philippines - In a heartwarming tale of resilience and hope, a small Philippine street dog has captured the hearts of residents in the city. The scrappy little dog, believed to be a mix of several breeds, was spotted wandering the streets by a local resident who immediately took notice of the animal's friendly demeanor and sad eyes.


Despite the challenges faced by stray dogs in the city, including limited access to food and medical care, this particular dog seemed to have an extra spark of determination and spirit. The resident, moved by the dog's plight, decided to take him in and provide him with the care and love he deserved.


After a few months of proper nutrition and medical treatment, the street dog, now named "Lucky," has made a full recovery and has become a beloved member of the family. His transformation has been nothing short of miraculous, and he has become a symbol of hope for other stray animals in the city.


Lucky's story has inspired many people to consider adopting a pet from their local shelter or rescue organization. "There are so many amazing animals out there who just need a chance," said Lucky's owner. "Lucky has brought so much joy into our lives, and I can't imagine life without him now."


As the population of stray dogs in the Philippines continues to grow, it is important to remember that these animals deserve love and care just like any other pet. Whether through adoption or simply by showing kindness and compassion, everyone can make a difference in the lives of these deserving animals.
New article
Write a flash fiction story about a Phillipino street dog

The sun beat down on the streets of Manila, baking the pavement and the souls of those who walked upon it. Among them was a small, scrappy street dog with matted fur and a thin frame. His name was Pogi, and he had spent his entire life on the rough city streets, surviving on whatever scraps he could find and avoiding the kicks and stones of those who saw him as nothing more than a nuisance.

Pogi had always been a solitary creature, preferring to keep to himself rather than risk getting hurt by others. But one day, something changed within him. Perhaps it was the scent of the juicy pork roasting on a spit at a nearby food cart, or the sight of a group of laughing children playing a game of tag. Whatever it was, Pogi found himself wanting more than just survival. He wanted to belong, to be a part of something bigger than himself.

So, with his tail wagging and his tongue hanging out, Pogi made his way over to the food cart, hoping to score a bit of food. To his surprise, the friendly vendor offered him a generous helping of the pork and even gave him a pat on the head. Pogi couldn't believe his luck. He had never been treated with such kindness before.

From that day on, Pogi became a regular at the food cart, eagerly waiting for his daily treat. And as he gained strength and filled out, he began to see the world in a different light. No longer was he just a scrappy street dog, struggling to get by. He was a valued member of the community, loved and respected by all who knew him.

As the years went by, Pogi grew old and gray, but he never forgot the love and kindness that had been shown to him. And even as he lay on his deathbed, surrounded by the people and animals who had become his family, he knew that he had lived a life full of purpose and joy - a life that he could never have imagined when he was just a lonely, forgotten street dog.
Flash fiction


Rewrite story at a grade 2 level (flash fiction story about a Phillipino street dog)


The sun was hot in the city of Manila. Pogi was a small dog who lived on the streets. He was all alone and had to find his own food. Sometimes people were mean to him and kicked him or threw stones. Pogi was scared of people and tried to stay away from them.


But one day, something made Pogi want more. He saw children playing and smelled yummy food cooking at a cart. Pogi's tummy growled. He went over to the cart and asked for some food. The nice man at the cart gave Pogi some pork and patted his head. Pogi was so happy and felt special.


From then on, Pogi went to the food cart every day. The man always gave him food and was kind to him. Pogi got stronger and his fur became shiny. He wasn't scared anymore. He had friends and a place to belong.


As Pogi got older, he became gray. But he never forgot the love and kindness he had received. Even when he was very sick and had to lay down all the time, Pogi knew he had lived a happy life with friends and purpose.
Same flash fiction story written at a Gr 2 level

Rewrite above story at a university level (flash fiction story about a Phillipino street dog)

The oppressive heat of the Manila sun bore down on the streets, causing the pavement to radiate waves of heat. Among the throngs of people navigating the sweltering city was a small, malnourished street dog with disheveled fur and a feeble physique. Pogi had spent the entirety of his life on the harsh streets, subsisting on whatever scraps he could scavenge and desperately trying to evade the animosity and mistreatment of those who saw him as nothing more than a bothersome stray.

Pogi had always been an isolated creature, preferring to keep to himself in order to avoid being hurt by others. However, one day, something within him underwent a transformation. It could have been the tantalizing aroma of succulent pork roasting on a spit at a nearby food cart, or the sight of a group of jubilant children playing a game of tag. Whatever the catalyst, Pogi found himself craving more than just survival. He wanted to feel a sense of belonging, to be a part of something greater than just himself.

Thus, with his tail wagging and his tongue lolling out of his mouth, Pogi made his way over to the food cart, hoping to secure a morsel of food. To his amazement, the friendly vendor offered him a generous portion of the pork and even bestowed upon him a pat on the head. Pogi couldn't believe his luck. He had never before been treated with such kindness.

From that day on, Pogi became a regular at the food cart, eagerly anticipating his daily treat. As he gained strength and filled out, he began to perceive the world in a different light. No longer was he just a feeble street dog, barely scraping by. He was a valued member of the community, loved and respected by all who knew him.

As the years passed, Pogi grew old and gray, but he never forgot the love and kindness that had been shown to him. Even as he lay on his deathbed, surrounded by the people and animals who had become his family, he knew that he had lived a life full of meaning and joy - a life that he could never have envisioned when he was just a lonely, forsaken street dog.
Same flash fiction story written at a university level

*Of course, there are infinite number of ways you can use it to support your teaching, including: learning about new teaching strategies, as a starting point for lesson ideas/rubrics/assignments, creating exemplars, writing prompts, vocabulary lists (with page numbers), chapter questions…

Deemphasize final product

Develop a culture of learning in class that emphasizes trial and mistakes as a means to improving (growth mindset).  Encourage students to view the essay as a chance to learn how to write effectively and an opportunity to work with the teacher to help them improve.

Include the following strategies to help students become better writers (and as a side benefit negate AI & other types of plagiarism):

  • Process work-explicitly teach & practice how to write a sententenc/pargarph/essay (eliminating the “I dont know how to do it” plagerism). Design your process work to be done in chunks (brainstorming, outline rough copy, self/peer edits, good copy) and teach students how to use the structured graphic organizers to help them develop their writing. These steps will ensure that students can’t AI their whole assignment (see research presented in Forbes article on “To Improve Students’ Writing, Teach Them To Construct Sentences And Outline Paragraphs”).
  • Feedback-reviewing each chunk of the process and providing feedback will ensure students will need to alter and improve what they are doing (even if it’s “stolen”)
  • Conferencing-speaking with a student one on one, during process work, will force students to discuss/defend their work (aka clarify and refine the information)
  • In class writing time-giving students enough in class time to generate ideas/write in class – will allow you to watch them work (or not = red flag) and will give you dedicated time for feedback and discussions (especially to those who you have been red flagged)
  • Mark based on the above process-having done all of the interaction above, nothing in their writing should be a surprise, so if their final product doesn’t match up, it may be time for a discussion (and possibly a supervised rewrite)

In the end, even if a student uses AI (to generate ideas, come up with a thesis, find quotes, plan their outline, or write their final copy) writing in class with your support (feedback & conferences) will ensure that they insert their own ideas and writing into their assignment.

Ultimately, cheating stems from insecurity (I can’t do it) and/or time management issues (I don’t have time to do it). Both of which are negated by the above suggestions, as students have enough time and support to complete the assignment. The third reason students cheat is a desire for better marks (My own assignment won’t earn me a level ____). For the solution to this problem see the “take marks out of the equation” at end of this blog.

Change Texts

My own solution to many problems in teaching English, including plagiarism, has been to adjust what I am doing in the class to the students I am teaching. If teaching a full class novel I choose more current and relevant texts to better serve the students in my classroom. The newer the texts the fewer online resources there are available for cheating (ChatGPT needs to get its info from somewhere). I have defended this choice, of steering clear from Shakespeare and/or the classics, by using the curriculum (if you are in Ontario, like me, there are not specific texts or genre’s mandated by the curriculum). My ability to choose any text is limited though as my board has an approved book list, so I try to choose books form here when I can. I have also developed a good relationship with my admin (who have a good understanding of my pedological reasoning) and, when necessary, will getting permission to deviate from the approved list.

I sometimes facilitate class book clubs (5 or so different texts to choose from) or independent novel study in addition to or in leu of a full class novel. Depending on the needs of the students I may run these as traditional novel studies or I may run them in a reader’s workshop format (here are some suggests on how to implement it). I have an extensive classroom library and incorporate independent reading & conferencing time into my daily lessons. I also have a good relationship with the librarian, who supports my reading initiatives (or at least I did, until I became the librarian. I do miss this wonderful collaboration though).

*If you have yet to read the work of Penny Kittle please do. She is a must read when it comes to effective methods to support reading and writing in the high school classroom and was foundational in my own pedagogical journey. The blog writer Learning in room 213 has been a great resource for practical ways to implement innovative pedological practices in the classroom.

Use alternative assessments

I started teaching English in an English department where the department was run in a way that prevented teacher choice when it came to assessment. Everyone in the team/department did the same thing (including an essay per unit and on the exam) and mostly at the same time. This was very restrictive and I could see that the methods being used were only working for some of the students. I sought out ways to find more autonomy and found that there were courses no one wanted to teach and so they were less concerned about how they were taught or assessed (if you teach in Ontario: the locally developed and applied classes). With this new autonomy I flourished and was able to learn new pedological practices that encouraged differentiated instruction, universal design and putting the students’ needs first. Where possible, I replaced essay writing with alternative methods of assessment, while teaching the same skills (writer’s workshop is one method, here are some examples), and defended this by demonstrating how it was leading to students success.

Within these new pedagogical shifts in teaching writing I would still have major assignment that were worth a lot of marks and this is where AI plagiarism is still a problem. I may be assigning essays rarely, but AI plagiarism seems to thrive in structured and free based writing as well, as seen with above responses about a random topic: a Filipino (excuse the spelling errors above) Street Dog. The AI can mimic any form and generate content on any topic. For example: it would most likely be able to write your sonnet (it knows and can create the structure) using all the requirements you request and on any topic you assign (try asking it to write a sonnet on an alien invasion).

What I have learned through this process is that the more specific you requirements, the harder the students will have to work to cheat by handing in a fully completed assignment created by the AI. But doing this goes against my pedagogical stance which focuses on flexibility, differentiation, allowing students writing to grow organically and allowing student choice (the more in-depth and prescriptive the assignment the less ability there is to create multiple options and the harder it is to flexibly adjust to the students needs in the moment).

Following the “deemphasize the final product” process above should help but they could still access AI. It only takes minutes to cheat using AI, and it is nearly impossible to monitor. The other move is to try and lock it down: make all marked assignments in class assignments, written only on paper and in a test format (no access to devices). I do not want this militant style in my room. It destroys the class culture I am working to create and it doesn’t allow for the kind of interaction between me and the students or between their peers that encourages success. It makes accommodating students who have an IEPs and are legally entitles to using tech to support their learning needs difficult as well.

Perhaps “deemphasize the final product” process and a creative product that the AI can not create (or at least not yet), such as: visuals (infographics, one pagers), video or audio (podcasts, an animation created using coding i.e. scratch) ect., could work. But of course these can found online as well and the plagiarism detecting techniques and software wouldn’t work on them either.

So what are we left with? Not much.

Take marks out of the equation

This is a struggle. Its just not one I see myself having, regardless of the source of the plagiarism or whether it is easy to detect or not.

I think the most effective defense against cheating is changing the culture of a class from grades driven to learning centered. If a student is cheating for marks (see above for solutions to others possible reason to cheat), the solution is to get rid of marks entirely (or at least as much as possible).

I have achieved this learning centered and mark free class through the gradeless/ungrading process

*Teachers Going Gradeless is a great resource or you could try asking ChatGPT about it-see the AIs responses in this tweet or below.

ChatGPT response to prompt: How is grading harmful to students?

This is a ChatGPT response to the prompt.
As such it no longer exists so could not be copied into the alt description.   
Please access ChatGPT for examples.
Note that this was the 5 out of 10 responses I generated, see link above for others

ChatGPT response to prompt: What is upgrading?

This is a ChatGPT response to the prompt.
As such it no longer exists so could not be copied into the alt description.   
Please access ChatGPT for examples.

In my gradeless learning centered classroom student focusing on their own learning goals and creating their own learning path. Each student is focused on their own progress and improvement, rather than on comparing themselves to others in the class or what their grades is (which of course I don’t have an answer to until we decide on it together). Students track their own goals, achievements, and next steps.

As a gradeless teacher, I don’t give grades to essays or any other assignments, so there really is no reason to cheat. 

We work through the assignments together (the student and I & the student and their peers). Once the assignment is complete, students assess themselves and their peers, based on the requirements and the skills demonstrated. The goal being to note their successes, progress in skill development, achievement of curriculum expectations and ultimately to develop their next steps. 

I am there to provide support when they falter/struggle, give feedback to help them improve, push/challenge them to higher achievement and share resources when needed.

My board has grades, so there have to be grades on their report cards. But these grades do not have to be determined solely by me. Grades are negotiated and discussed in depth, with the student, in grade conferences set at various points in the semester. In preparation for the grade conferences students grade themselves  based on a curriculum rubric that has been referred to throughout the semester and defend their proposed grade with evidence in a portfolio of their work (& assessments as and for learning), that they have been developing throughout the semester. The portfolio demonstrates the progress they have made over the course of the semester, with a focus on their most recent work.

Again if your in Ontario this is defendable: “Teachers look at many demonstrations of learning throughout the reporting period for evidence that your child is learning the curriculum. These may include: assignments, conversations. presentations, performances, demonstrations, projects, tests, exams…This means that teachers assess students on more than just knowing facts. Students must show an understanding of what they are studying by communicating and applying what they have learned. They must also demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Teachers review all student work with special attention to the quality of work at the end of a unit of study, term or semester as they consider a student’s most recent and most consistent demonstration of learning. Teachers do not simply calculate averages. Teachers also talk with and observe your child in the classroom to gather as much information as possible before making a decision on the final gradeHow teachers assess students

When possible, we also facilitate student led conferences during parent teacher interviews where they are also encouraged to lead share their progress with their parents.

Generally, students are more likely to underestimate their progress and are harder on themselves (give themselves a lower mark) than I would have. A negotiation is then needed to discuss increase their suggested mark.

*Need more guided support for implementing gradelessnesss in a high school English classroom See Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading By Sarah M. Zerwin

Final thoughts (in case you made it this far)

So is ChatGPT AI the final death blow to the 5 paragraph essay?

Much like Coles notes and the internet, ChatGPT AI is here whether we like it or not. Ultimately, I think it depends on how you decide to view it and what you are willing to do to deal with it.


Interested in more details about many of the topics mentioned in this blog? Check out my blogs page or see blogs below.

Have any other ideas of how we can deal with the threat of ChatGPT AI plagiarism? Feel free to share in the comment.

Finding ELA Mentor Texts

You don’t need to wait until you are reading a great novel to talk to your students about great writing. There are some great resources out there that have curated the excerpts, and in some cases shown you how to use them in your classroom. Check out this blog for more info.

Advertisement

Celebrating Black Authors

We live in a wonderfully diverse world. Our classrooms should reflect this diversity in what and how we teach as well as the resources we make available to our students. This celebration should be year round but there are occasions when we need to make a dilligent effort to celebrate specific groups. During Black History…

8 or so Teaching Apps or Websites Worth Using Now

Not sure about you but after the last few years I have massive tech fatigue? I can’t learn a new platform, even if it seems amazing. Am planning on keeping it simple this year. Feel like less (complicated) is more, given what we are all up against. If it is not easy to learn/intuitive (for…

2021 My Year in Books (story post)

2021 recapped in books: It was a really hard year. It was very hard to concentrate for any length of time. So I read (well really listened to) a lot of fluffy books (light reads), did a lot of rereading of old favs and found it easier to latch on to a series. FAV BOOKS:…

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s