Part 1: Starting with Quality Texts
3 minute read
“Computer: write a 250-word explanation of the theme of Of Mice and Men for a high schooler with a 4th grade reading level.”
With the advent of text-generating tools now available, there’s no reason that students can’t have access to example texts at exactly the reading level they need. It can be tempting to tell an AI tool to create what you want from scratch. However, students need to be reading verified, quality texts appropriate for their grade level, and not just AI-generated ones for a number of reasons:
- Quality texts are more likely to be accurate and unbiased. AI-generated texts can be biased, depending on the data they are trained on. This is because AI models are trained to identify patterns and trends in data, and they may not be able to distinguish between accurate and inaccurate information. Quality texts such as textbooks or database articles, on the other hand, are typically written by experts who have carefully researched the topic.
- Quality texts are more likely to be well-written and engaging. AI-generated texts can be repetitive and formulaic. They may also lack the creativity and humor that is often found in human-written texts. Quality texts, on the other hand, are typically written by skilled writers who know how to capture the reader’s attention.
- Quality texts are more likely to help students develop critical thinking skills. When students read quality texts, they are exposed to different perspectives and ideas. This helps them to develop their own thinking skills and to become more informed citizens.
Purely AI-generated texts can be a useful tool for differentiation, but they should not be used as a replacement for reading quality texts.
So where are the best places to find quality texts to work with? Your best bet is usually behind a paywall. In these paid databases, you’ll find articles of different lengths and text complexities on any subject you can imagine, all well-organized, concise, translatable, and cross-referenced to other quality articles and media.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pay for them! Anyone can access these resources free from a number of sources:
- Your school or school district library
- Your local public library.
- Your college or university library. Many academic libraries offer day use passes for their databases if you’re not enrolled!
- Your state library. Every US state has an office that exists to coordinate library resources across it, and many subscribe to research databases in an effort to ensure equal access for all residents.
In my next post, we’ll explore ways to use these texts as the foundation for creating differentiated materials for students.
Want to dive deeper into using quality texts with AI? Join me at the NCCE conference in Seattle February 14th-16th. Registration is open now!
Erin Downey is an experienced teacher, librarian, educational trainer, and presenter with almost 20 years of experience in public education. They are currently the consulting librarian for the Boise School District, where they support school librarians, library assistants, teachers, and school staff in getting the most out of their library, literacy, and technology programs. Throughout their career, they have discovered a passion for coaching educators and administrators through their next big challenge. Erin’s librarian heart loves taking chaos and confusion and helping plot a simple, straightforward course towards their immediate and long-term goals in a way that is accessible, measurable, and sustainable. They have a deep commitment to creating top-notch educational experiences for educators and learning professionals by implementing the same proven strategies that we know transform learning for our students.
When they’re not librarianing, they’re taking every opportunity for adventure. Their current passions are swimming, whitewater rafting, aerial silks, and flying trapeze!