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A GRACEful Approach to AI for Teachers

By Samantha Skifton, Technology Integration Specialist, GRACE

Artificial Intelligence. If you read those words and immediately think that it can’t be good for the future of education, many would likely agree. Artificial Intelligence (AI) hit the world like a tidal wave in November of 2022 thanks to ChatGPT, a chat-based platform that can instantly generate text. There are a few common misconceptions we would like to clarify. First, AI is not a new creation. It has been part of the technological world since 1950, albeit in different forms. Second, you use AI almost daily and might not realize it. Do you ask Siri or Alexa to play your favorite songs or to schedule a reminder? Have you ever Googled something? Has your digital map recommended the shortest route? And don’t get me started on personalized ads! These daily tasks all use AI to some degree.

GRACE’s Technology Services team was tasked with researching AI at the start of the school year. Immediately hundreds of questions posed threats to how we view education. Did students need to hand write essays? Was this something that students or staff should even use? The questions didn’t stop, and neither did we. We knew that AI couldn’t be brushed under the rug for another day. Our investigation started exactly where it should: with our faith. Pope Francis has been addressing AI since 2016, and throughout that time his opinion hasn’t changed: AI is a gift from God which needs to serve our human potential and will challenge our teaching methods, however we are called to use AI morally and ethically to promote critical thinking (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the “Minerva Dialogues”, March 2023). 

Our focus became finding AI tools that were created specifically for educators. These tools save our teachers something precious: time. AI provides an almost instantaneous digital assistant to our teachers. The teacher who used to spend three hours creating review materials for students can now create a starting point in seconds. The first-year teacher who wants to create a project based on the novel Wonder has a multitude of ideas in minutes. The teacher who wants to give each student a personalized Christmas story can save hours of time creating them.

There are a few things we would like to affirm. We discourage teachers from distributing AI materials without first editing and making materials their own. AI is a starting point not the final draft. The use of ChatGPT is discouraged for all because, quite honestly, there are better tools available. As for students, the expectation is that their assigned work be original, not AI generated.  Blocking or banning use is almost impossible, instead the focus within the classroom is exhibiting academic honesty while demonstrating skill mastery.

We have before us a rare opportunity to pioneer an ethical and moral use of AI for education grounded in our GRACE mission. Our teachers will focus on utilizing AI to enhance academic rigor, professionalism, effectiveness, and evangelization while striving for excellence.

This is an excerpt from the Spring 2024 GRACE Newsletter. Check out the whole newsletter by clicking the button below!

Holy Cross Catholic School is part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) School System. It is a private Catholic school serving Preschool and Elementary through 8th grade (PK3-8). The school has open enrollment and is located on the Northeast side of Green Bay near the Town of Scott and is near the Red Smith neighborhood and Wequiock Falls.

Holy Cross provides an individualized education in a faith-based environment. Each child is supported not only academically, but spiritually.

For more information about Holy Cross Catholic School, feel free to browse our website: