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Help is on the Way: Common Sense Education’s Free AI Literacy Lessons

We need to be talking with our students about artificial intelligence. But the thought of teaching your students about AI while you’re still learning about it yourself is daunting. Where do you begin? How do you ensure you share the most accurate, up-to-date information when everything changes so quickly?

Enter Common Sense Education.

Common Sense Education has been my go-to for digital citizenship lessons and support. Their materials are top-notch: fully scripted lessons for grades K-12 in media balance and well-being, privacy and security, digital footprint, relationships and communication, cyberbullying and hate speech, and news and media literacy. Recently they added a whole curriculum for SEL-related topics; they also have incredible resources for parents.

Did I mention that this is all free?

This year they have added a curriculum for grades 6-12 centered on AI Literacy and if you’re looking for ways to start the conversation about AI with your students, this is your one-stop shop.

The current collection has eight lessons ranging from What is AI?, a lesson that really starts at the beginning to help students understand the current state of AI from its benefits to its limitations, to Facing Off with Facial Recognition, a lesson that gets students thinking about how we are employing AI and how that impacts our privacy.

Common Sense’s AI Lessons

Now, I know what you might be thinking: I do not have time for one more thing. I hear you – I don’t, either. But we can’t ignore AI – it’s not going away. And we can’t just wish and hope that somehow they’ll pick this knowledge up through osmosis because they won’t. So how do we include this in our curriculum?

I’m a firm believer that it truly does “take a village” to do this work. Students have to be hearing unified messages about technology use from home and at school. And it has to be an open and ongoing conversation. But what if we don’t live in that ideal space? Ignoring our students’ technology use is no longer a pedagogical approach.

Work it in when you can!

I work it in as I can – and it’s not perfect. When we did our first writing assignment of the year in my junior English class, I introduced ChatGPT. I show them how to prompt it to support their writing. I give them ideas for prompts they might use and ethical ways of using it as a thought partner. This was a perfect place for me to work in some of the ideas, materials, and conversations from Common Sense Educations’ lessons What is AI? And How is AI Trained? The beauty of these lesson plans is that you can choose to do the lesson as scripted, or you can pick and choose what works best for you and your students – Common Sense Education makes all of their materials fully editable in Google Drive.

When my students were using ChatGPT in a later unit to develop a name for their podcast, they were faced with some AI bias. I was able to use some of the resources in the lesson Understanding AI Bias to help me share what was happening. I supplemented my 1984 unit with the Facing Off with Facial Recognition lesson as we talked about Big Brother. All this came up organically in my conversations with my students, woven into our days, just as technology is.

We can’t ignore AI, hoping it will go away or that someone else will help students understand its use case and impact. Fortunately, Common Sense Education has our backs. If you don’t already have an account, now’s the time to head on over and create one so you can access all of these incredible (FREE!) resources!

Stay curious, stay innovative!

Two Maine Teachers Logo and words Kate

AI Transparency: Chat GPT was used to help develop this post.  Chat GPT 5%, Human 95%.  I use it to maximize the readability. Here is the prompt that I used:Prompt: “Read this blog post, DO NOT change the content.  Give me feedback on SEO* (Copy and Paste blog post)” *SEO is Search Engine Optimization.

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