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Preventing the Use of AI in ELA: 6 Methods

Updated: Feb 9

There will always be new tools to help teachers combat the use of AI.  A Chrome extension called Origin by GPTZero provides a writing report and of course Turnitin has a database of student work that helps check for plagiarism.  Good old-fashioned Google often helps detect plagiarism, but wouldn’t it be nice to trust that the writing process would eliminate the need for these tools?


I try to remember that giving students enough time to read, assigning meaningful notetaking activities for independent reading, and topic-based whole-novel activities all in theory prevent plagiarism because they make the writing process easy.  If students have class notes on around fifty quotes and independent reading notes, they should have more than enough to write about.  Scaffolded notes also help students organize their thoughts and essay.  


Google documents allow teachers to see all writing happening in the classroom so teachers can conference in a chair at their desk instead of standing next to a student while looking over their shoulder.   


Here are six ways teachers can work with students in class, so they don’t feel pressured to use AI to write their essays:


1.  Create a question or topic of choice.


If students pick their own topic or question, they often feel more invested in the work.  If we know their topic early on, we can help guide them in the right direction by asking good questions.   


2.  Produce an outline with an introduction, thesis, topic sentences, and a list of quotes or page numbers for each body paragraph.


A weak thesis will often lead to a weak essay, so working with students to craft a solid thesis early in the process will eliminate their writer’s block and general frustration with the logic and development of their ideas. 


3.  Model how to research and use outside sources in an essay. 


Students need to see a few good examples of how to use outside sources, especially if those outside sources support their interpretation of a novel or play.  It can be tempting for a student to lift phrases from a text or improperly cite if they don’t see a model first. 


4.  Check in with students to give feedback on body paragraphs.


Many issues could come up while students write body paragraphs.  They might improperly cite a quote, not interpret enough evidence, make grammatical mistakes, or write illogically.  Giving feedback during this stage of writing helps students avoid those mistakes. 


5.  Encourage students to collaborate on ideas to clarify their thoughts. 


Students benefit from bouncing ideas off each other before and during the writing process.  Speaking out loud helps students clarify their thoughts because they have a real audience.  Even asking a simple question like “Does this make sense?” will put students in a position where they don’t have to always rely on their teacher’s feedback.    


6.  Talk about a meaningful conclusion after writing the essay. 


After students finish their essay, they could talk to the teacher or a classmate about the relevance of the text and what they learned from writing about it. 


It won’t be necessary to hand hold and walk students through every step of this process once they learn how to do it.  Eventually, they should be able to handle completing these steps on their own. 

Teacher's Workshop, professional development for secondary ELA teachers

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