AI @ P-CCS: Part 1

Artificial Intelligence. It’s on Google, it’s on TikTok, it’s everywhere, including P-CCS! 

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence is about teaching machines to think and learn like humans, with the goal of automating work and solving problems more efficiently”. How does it work? AI learns by analyzing lots of data. The latest breakthrough in AI came when ChatGPT indexed much of the internet and then paired it with the ability to understand natural language. This advancement allows you to ask and get answers to questions much like a human interaction (Natural Language Processing- NLP). It can perform tasks like summarizing texts, creating captions, interpreting images, developing stories – in short, generating new and unique output to user prompts! We have entered the era of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI). 

AI & P-CCS

P-CCS aspires to have staff and students using technology to innovate and thrive. This includes AI. The Student and Staff Technology Acceptable Use and Safety policies were both updated at the February 27, 2024 board meeting with administrative guidelines to follow surrounding AI. We encourage you to read the policies and be aware of the guidelines. 

Some key points to be aware of: 

  • Staff are permitted to use AI/NLP tools to accomplish their job responsibilities as long as the use is ethical and responsible. The disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) about students is prohibited.
  • For students, the general policy is that they are required to rely on their own knowledge, skills, and resources when completing school work.
  • Students are prohibited from using AI/NLP tools to complete school work without express permission/consent from a teacher. Students should ask their teachers if they have questions about using AI/NLP tools for a specific assignment.
  • Teachers have discretion to authorize students to use AI/NLP tools for specific purposes, such as:
    • Research assistance
    • Data analysis
    • Language translation
    • Writing assistance
    • Accessibility (e.g., text-to-speech for students with disabilities)

Engage Safely and Responsibly

As we enter into this conversation, we must expressly state a caution about using AI safely and responsibly. 

As with any technology, we need to be aware of the data and personal information we are sharing- especially when it comes to our students’ data. When using AI tools, students and staff should never share personally identifiable information (PII) about themselves or others – this can include first/last names, email addresses, or any other personal identifying information. If you have questions of what’s okay to share, reach out to a member of the TIS team by submitting a helpdesk ticket

It is also very important to be aware that responses generated from AI may contain biases and/or misinformation. Always review AI-generated content with a critical (human) eye. AI is a tool that gives us a starting point, not a finished product. 

First Steps

The district updated its policies in recognition that AI will be transformative.  We suggest educating yourself further on AI. Here are some resources from Common Sense Media:

This is the first post in a 4-part series. The next post will provide you with ideas and resources to see how AI might support you and some of your teaching responsibilities. In our final post, we will announce the release of an AI tool that will be made available to all P-CCS staff.

Things I Wish I Would Have Known- Canvas Edition: Make Modules, not Pages

If you have been using Canvas for awhile (since 2021), you may have worked to build Pages in Canvas that had the plan for your day/week/month. They may also include links to other Canvas Assignments and resources. It may look something like this:

sample Canvas page

While this page made a lot of sense as you rushed to put together content for virtual days, you might consider making the shift to Modules. Over time, these pages have probably proved cumbersome to update and it can result in a clunky workflow for students. It may also feel like a double load of work if you also update some daily slide for the classroom. We’d suggest letting go of these Agenda pages in favor Modules organized by week or topic. Check out some examples below:

This set up may prove easier to update and blends nicely with the face-to-face learning environment, pointing students and families to exactly what they need to know.

Why Use Modules

  1. Content Organization: Modules act like a table of contents, allowing instructors to organize various course elements such as Pages, Files, Discussion Boards, Quizzes, and Assignments. By grouping related content together, Modules create a coherent flow for students.
  2. Interaction Requirements: Modules allow instructors to require student interaction with specific content before proceeding to assignments. For example, students might need to review a reading or watch a video before attempting a quiz.
  3. Centralized Management: Instructors can manage all course materials within a single Module. This streamlines the course-building process and keeps everything organized in one place.
  4. Flexible Structure: Instructors can structure Modules based on their natural course organization. Whether by unit, day, week, topic, or outcome, Modules adapt to the instructor’s preferred format.
  5. Visual Flow: Using indentation, emojis, and text headers in Modules enhances visual flow, especially when dealing with a large amount of content. Headers help delineate different sections, and instructors can even use emojis for quick scanning.
  6. Student Experience: By simplifying navigation (e.g., hiding unnecessary links), Modules create a better experience for students. Chunking content into digestible bits prevents overwhelming learners.

Google Read&Write Refresher

image of read and write toolbar

Did you know that all P-CCS students have access to Read&Write for Google? The toolbar is added in Chrome as an extension. Students likely notice the puzzle-shaped toolbar pop up on certain sites. If you would like to learn more about what tools are available, explore this interactive image or take a look at this toolbar tips sheet.

Additionally, if you have students with Dyslexia, you can look at this resource to see how it can help their overall performance. Elementary teachers, in particular, may find it useful for building listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in their students.

You might use one of these activities to help students learn how to use the tool or to explore it for yourself:

These tools can  help students as they work on year-end projects. Some of these tools mimic the digital tools available on M-STEP and other standardized tests.

Things I Wish I Would Have Known-Canvas Edition: Use the Calendar

calendar blog

Using Canvas can feel overwhelming if you are new to it or haven’t done much with it since the 20-21 school year. Want an easy place to start? Go to the calendar.

calendar icon on dashboard

Once there you can add assignments, course events (including recurring events), personal events, and appointment groups. When you open the Calendar, think about upcoming tests, due dates, and reminders. Click on the associated day and add it to the calendar.  If you need to change a due date, you just need to drag and drop it to a new date.

If you create an event from Calendar, you add a minimal amount of information and you have the choice to click “More Options” to add more direction.

add assignment on the calendar

This is a great way to get started with Canvas to share important assignments and events with students and families. Take a look at a secondary student’s calendar below:

view of student calendar

Things I Wish I Would Have Known: Canvas Edition-Google Assignments

blog series

Introducing a new series, Things I Wish I Would Have Known: Canvas Edition. We will highlight things we wish we might have done differently when we started using Canvas and what you might consider updating in your course going forward. When back to school time hits it can be overwhelming to consider what updates to make in your Canvas course. Our hope with this series is that you will consider some changes you can make for next year and start implementing some of those new ideas now.

Three Big Reasons to Try Google Assignments in Canvas
  • If you used the predecessor to Google Assignments, Cloud Assignments, they are being deprecated in June 2024. Learn more about this in our earlier blog post. If you have any assignment that look like the one below, please be sure to take action.

screen of Google Cloud assignment

  • If you have Google Document that you ask students to make a copy of, you may be creating unknown barriers for students. Many students forget if they have already copied and started an assignment. If they did already start it, they may not be able to find it again. With Google Assignments, each student receives a labeled copy organized in a dedicated Drive folder, making it easy to keep track of submissions, and peak and their progress while they work.
    • In earlier years using Canvas, some teachers did not like it because:
      • You couldn’t use the Canvas Speedgrader, you had to use the Google grader–you now have the option to grade with Speedgrader.
      • People reported problems with it. In the early years of Canvas, there were a lot of problems talked about but these days I seldom hear of an issue.
  • One of the standout features of Assignments is the availability of originality reports. These reports scan student submissions against hundreds of billions of web pages and millions of books, helping you identify potential instances of plagiarism or missed citations. Each course is allotted five originality reports. When enabled students can even check over their originality report up to 3 times to help catch their errors. This feature would be an excellent reason to give Google Assignments a try before the end of the year.

Tutorial: Create a Google Assignment

 

Upcoming Virtual Days? Tips for Success

With State testing season upon us, you may have a virtual day coming up on your calendar. Please follow these tips to find success:

  1. If it has been a long time since you have opened Zoom, you will likely need to install an update. This is NOT as simple as clicking “update.” Please follow the guidance in this blog post.
  2. In an effort to manage funds, not all staff have licensed Zoom accounts. When you login to Zoom be aware of any notice that you have a limited account and are limited to 40 minute sessions. If you see this type of messaging, please submit a tech ticket so your account can be upgraded.
  3. Have students practice joining your Zoom, if possible. Related to that, check your Canvas page, do you have multiple Zoom links visible (perhaps in the Course Navigation Menu and near your name/room # on the homepage). To reduce confusion:
    1. Remove one of the options.
    2. Ensure that the duplicate links go to the same meeting.
  4. Add any necessary co-hosts following these directions. Bear in mind, page 8 of the manual gives directions specific to adding co-hosts to a Personal Room if that is what you intend to use.

For more Zoom resources, please visit our Zoom resources on the P-CCS Tech site.

If you are unsure about any of these steps, please submit a tech ticket for assistance.

Digital Literacy and Citizenship in the Classroom

digital citizenship with Common Sense

In our rapidly evolving digital world, it’s crucial that students develop strong digital literacy and digital citizenship skills. From navigating the internet safely to understanding the capabilities of artificial intelligence, our students need guidance to become responsible and informed digital citizens. That’s why incorporating Common Sense Media’s free educator resources is such a valuable opportunity for all educators.

Common Sense Media provides ready-made lesson plans and lesson collections tackling a wide range of relevant digital topics like digital security, managing digital distractions, and understanding AI. By creating a free account, teachers gain access to these amazing materials designed to build digital literacy in an engaging way. As educators, we have the chance to empower our students with the knowledge and skills required to thrive online. Bring Common Sense Media’s lessons into your classroom to prepare your students for success in our digital age with confidence.

lesson collection on digital well-being
Digital-well being lessons are available across grade levels.

 

lesson collection for elementary device advice
Lessons to foster device use in the classroom.

 

Range of lessons for 10th grade
Digital citizenship lessons can fit in a variety of subject areas.

March Canvas Updates

march Canvas updates

March 16, 2024 Canvas is releasing two welcome updates!

  • New Quizzes Item Analysis: Fill In the Blank Data now provides additional information on specific question types for instructors to evaluate student responses and provide appropriate intervention. Previously, if you had multiple blanks or dropdowns you would not get stats on all the blanks. Now you will be able to get data for each blank. See image below.

fill in the blank analytics

  • Multiple gradebook filter options can be applied at once.

gradebook filters

Video walkthrough:

Canvas Discussions Redesign Coming this Summer

canvas discussions redesign

This summer, Canvas is rolling out a redesign of the Discussions feature to provide a more modern, accessible, and user-friendly experience. While the core functionality of Discussions will remain intact, the new redesign brings a host of exciting enhancements.

What’s New in the Discussions Redesign?

  • Cleaner, more accessible UI with improved screen reader capabilities
  • Flexible viewing options including inline view and split view
  • Reply reporting with notifications for instructors
  • Quoting functionality to make referencing easier
  • Improved search with text highlighting
  • Support for full and partial anonymity in graded discussions—this functionality is currently turned off  for P-CCS until Canvas adds a moderation feature
  • Additional sorting and filtering options

The goal is to facilitate better peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration through a modernized discussion forum experience. Popular existing features like posting before seeing replies, marking posts read/unread, group discussions, peer reviews, and rubric support will continue to be available.

While some may be apprehensive about the changes, Canvas emphasizes that no current functionality is going away. The redesign aims to elevate the overall discussion experience by adding conveniences like quote replies, anonymous postings, and a more intuitive design.

So get ready to embrace the future of Canvas Discussions coming your way this summer! The refreshed interface and new capabilities will foster more engaging discourse for students and instructors alike.

Find more information here: 2024_Canvas-Discussions-Redesign_Data-Sheet.pdf – Google Drive

New Student & Family Canvas Orientation

location of Canvas orientation link

In an effort to better help new students and families understand how to use Canvas, we have created a Student and Family Canvas Orientation. We plan to link it in several places throughout our public-facing websites. For now, it is conveniently linked in the “Help” area in Canvas.

location of Canvas orientation link

There is a family module and student module. They contain walkthroughs in several formats (video, interactive tutorial, and linked guides).

family module
Orientation Module for Observers/Families
students orientation modules
Module for Students

Individuals don’t need to be be logged into view the course, so you can also share the link directly. Please feel free to spread the word to anyone who would benefit from this resource. We will update this blog post when we add the link in other places.