10 AI Time-Saving Teaching Hacks

In AMLE’s 2023 Membership Survey, teacher leaders were asked, “What factors, if any, prevent you from becoming a more effective teacher leader?” The number one response was, unsurprisingly, “time.”

More than ever, teachers today feel pressed for time. From planning and executing high-quality lessons for diverse learners, to managing multiple meetings with different constituents, our plates are full. We know communication with students and families provides critical feedback needed for growth, but how can we fit it all in? Are we always aware of our tone while juggling the numerous aspects of our teaching lives?

Never fear, beleaguered educators! There is hope. It comes in the form of two vowels. You guessed it, now say it with us –  AI.

For some, AI conjures up notions of science fiction plots and machines replacing teachers and taking away all creativity. But it’s also an important tool that our students are already using, so let’s find ways to use it to our advantage. Teachers can constructively use AI to relieve workload and, most importantly, allow for more time helping students grow.

Top 10 Ways Teachers Can Save Time and Hack Teaching with AI*

ONE: Report Card Comments

AI can be used to draft report card comments. A good way to do this is having students reflect on learned skills at the end of the semester via a Google Form. Students can self-report their strengths, areas for growth, and goals. After the students have remarked on their progress, you can provide feedback. Plug this information into ChatGPT or Poe to create a tailored comment for each student that sounds professional and polished. This is an especially helpful tool for multilingual teachers who may struggle with formal writing tasks in English. The more specific details you provide in your AI prompt, the more targeted and authentic the comment will be.

TWO: Letters of Recommendation

Need a quick letter of recommendation for a student or a colleague? AI can help. All you need to do is prompt ChatGPT with whom you are writing the recommendation letter for, where they are applying, and what position they are seeking. Then, add some notes or anecdotes about the person. AI will create a good starting point that you can rework to make more personalized. For example, Megan likes to tell Chat GPT to remove all adjectives and adverbs, to write four paragraphs only, and to keep the sentences short and clause-free. This feels more like her natural writing style.

THREE: Student Support Plans

If you’ve helped write a student support plan, you know it can take a lot of time to ensure you have incorporated everything needed to truly support a student. Ludia is an AI bot specifically created to support Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the classroom. It’s a great tool for supporting students with individualized plans and diverse needs in a targeted way. Enter all relevant information about the student’s needs and points of the support plan and voila!

FOUR: Model Examples/Exemplars

You can also use ChatGPT to create writing samples for students to analyze. It can generate mentor texts based on a writing prompt and success criteria. Students can see what excellent, good, average, and below-average writing looks like for a task. You might also create examples to demonstrate differentiated skill sets for students to emulate. Once teachers have created different types of writing samples for a task, they can have students compare, contrast, and assess them using the task rubric.

Pro Tip: If you are new to prompt writing, Dalton Flanagan and Cora Yang’s Education AI Prompts Craft 101 are super helpful.

FIVE: Differentiated and Leveled Texts

It is essential to provide students with reading material they can understand. This is especially important when working with multilingual learners. Many language learners struggle to grasp content information that is at too high a Lexile level. AI is very good at scaffolding reading material. For example, you can use Diff.it for Teachers to modify texts to be understood by students at reading levels ranging from grades two to eleven. Additionally, Google Chrome AI extensions like QuillBot provide quick summaries and paraphrasing of longer texts for students who may be struggling with comprehension.

SIX: Vocabulary Lessons

It is important to highlight and pre-teach important vocabulary when designing units of instruction. Sites like Magic School AI create vocabulary lists and targeted reading material for your units. You can also ask Magic School AI to design worksheets and graphic organizers for students to practice keywords.

For example, Megan recently used Magic School to create a one-page informational text overview of migration and immigration for grade 8 multilingual students. She asked for a text at a third-grade reading level that included vocabulary words related to the topic and would be easily understood by language learners. She then tailored the vocabulary list based on the Lexile level of her students and changed the length of the reading passage to be more accessible. Goodbye, dense and unrelatable vocabulary books!

SEVEN: Task and Test Creation

AI tools can also help create formative and summative tasks. They can generate test questions based on whatever topic or standards you are teaching and in your desired format, including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, cloze reading passages, short answer and open-ended questions, matching, and longer essay prompts. You can create multiple versions of tests and ask the bot to change the order of questions. Websites like Canva Magic Design can create graphic organizers and study tools in seconds, making differentiation and scaffolding for multilingual students easy.

EIGHT: Emails to Families and Colleagues

It is so tricky to make sure an email includes all the necessary information while maintaining an appropriate tone. Even after many years of writing emails to parents and colleagues, Marri still has someone proofread for tone and fluency before sending important correspondence. AI takes an objective approach to the situation at hand, leaving off any personal bias or emotions the writer may have at the moment. The Grammarly app even has a tone checker built in. Don’t forget to thoroughly proofread before hitting send as you still may want to make some adjustments.

NINE: Unit and Lesson Plans

AI can be a thinking partner for teachers as you generate ideas for units or lessons. Megan recently used ChatGPT to plan an interdisciplinary science and social studies unit for students in Grade 9. She asked ChatGPT to suggest five ideas for units centered around SDG 13 (Climate Action) that brought together both disciplines. Megan then reviewed its suggestions, chose the one she liked best, and asked ChatGPT to develop eight lessons for that unit along with a statement of inquiry and a summative assessment GRASP task. ChatGPT did all of this very quickly. The unit plan ideas included an eco-debate tournament, a data-driven environmental journalism project, and a green business simulation. All Megan had to do was tweak a few and share them with her teaching team. Ultimately, they selected the eco-debate idea.

TEN: Translation Tools

ChatGPT is also a translation tool. Although not perfect, it speeds up communication when working with multilingual students and families. When informally surveyed, Megan’s English language acquisition students felt the Chat GPT translator was better than Google Translate. ChatGPT can be used to translate emails to families, help students understand assignment directions, and translate reading material. The free program HeyGen can even take a video you record in English and dub over it in any language you choose so it seems like you are speaking that language. Amazing!

Using AI to Reclaim our Time

The advent of the AI era brings with it huge opportunities to streamline our workflows and work more efficiently. This innovation is an invitation, ironically, to elevate the human experience. Be that as it may, we need to thoroughly check what AI produces before sending it out into the universe. Sometimes, AI makes mistakes or doesn’t provide the exact outcome we desire. Ultimately, it is up to us to fact-check and modify AI output to suit our needs and reflect our unique voices. If we can learn to use this technology effectively, we can reclaim our after-school hours and spend more time with friends and families, all while better serving our students! Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

What do you think? Are you using AI to save time in your teaching workweek? How? Share your ideas and comments below. We welcome them.

Stay tuned for our next article about how students can authentically use AI for deeper content knowledge.

*Note – AI is developing so fast that we can’t keep up. But these are a few of our favorite ideas for saving time thus far.

This article was written by members of AMLE’s Teacher Leaders Constituent Committee. For more information on AMLE’s constituent committees, please check out the link here.