Advertisement

New AI ‘assistant’ being tested by NYC teachers to create lesson plans

Brooklyn North Superintendent Janice Ross, bottom left inset; screenshot of YourWai website, the new AI tool being used to create teacher lesson plans, bottom right inset; main photo of black George Washington created by AI.
Brooklyn North Superintendent Janice Ross, bottom left inset; screenshot of YourWai website, the new AI tool being used to create teacher lesson plans, bottom right inset; main photo of black George Washington created by AI.

An artificial intelligence program from South America that creates lesson plans for teachers is now being piloted in some Brooklyn high schools, The Post has learned.

Teachers in northern Brooklyn are being trained on how to use YourWai, an AI “teaching assistant” created by developers in Colombia for the company Learning Innovation Catalyst, Superintendent Janice Ross announced at a parent council meeting Wednesday.

“Teachers spend hours creating lesson plans. They should not be doing that anymore,” said Ross, who oversees high schools in Sunset Park, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville and East New York.

Superintendent Janice Ross said that teachers in her Brooklyn district are being trained on new AI software that can generate their lesson plans. Linkedin Janice Ross
Superintendent Janice Ross said that teachers in her Brooklyn district are being trained on new AI software that can generate their lesson plans. Linkedin Janice Ross

Teachers can enter students’ needs and the standards they want into the app and a lesson plan will be generated, Ross explained at the Citywide Council for High Schools meeting Wednesday. She called it a “game changer” that will give teachers more time to “think creatively” and less time spent creating curricula.

“Will it take time, will we have to adjust it if you want more of this, want more of that? Yes,” Ross added. “We can never replace humans.”

But some educators and observers warned AI lesson planning is concerning on many levels: fledgling AI systems have been shown to lean left and present absurd historical inaccuracies, and lesson planning itself is an essential and creative teaching activity.

“The mistake is to see lesson planning as drudgery that can be off-loaded to a machine,” Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor David Bloomfield told The Post.

“Using AI, like long-available commercial or free materials, shouldn’t be a crutch yielding sterile, depersonalized work, but a tool that teachers will need to be taught to use if it’s to be effective,” he added.

Ross highlighted her Brooklyn district’s work around AI at a parent council meeting this week. CCHS
Ross highlighted her Brooklyn district’s work around AI at a parent council meeting this week. CCHS
YourWai is an AI teaching and learning assistant that aims to save teachers time and improve instruction, according to its website. CCHS
YourWai is an AI teaching and learning assistant that aims to save teachers time and improve instruction, according to its website. CCHS

Google’s Gemini was recently blasted for creating “diverse” images that were not historically or factually accurate — like female popes and Native American Founding Fathers.

Adobe’s Firefly recently generated depictions of black Nazis.

A study conducted by New Zealand professor David Rozado for the Manhattan Institute last year found “instances of political and demographic bias” and “left-leaning” undertones in ChatGPT responses.

Rozado told The Post this week that most AI algorithms display bias in response to political topics.

“Human led fine-tuning” is needed to align AI with a certain set of values, he said.

Educators are increasingly using AI to accomplish administrative tasks, create lesson plans and receive coaching. yourwai.com
Educators are increasingly using AI to accomplish administrative tasks, create lesson plans and receive coaching. yourwai.com

“Another potential problem with AIs creating lesson plans for students is the relatively high frequency with which AIs display hallucinations/confabulation,” he said. “That is, they make stuff up that is simply not true.”

Rozado presented the potential scenarios that could play out: AI can reinforce a human’s biases, a human can correct or learn from the technology, or, “in a more disturbing scenario, a biased system could present incorrect content in such a persuasive fashion that it convinces the user of its veracity,” he said.

“We know that AI can sometimes be wrong, and it must be used cautiously,” Queens Councilman Bob Holden, a member of the City Council’s Committee on Technology, told The Post.

AI programs have been blasted as “left-leaning” and “woke” for producing historically inaccurate images and information. Adobe Firefly
AI programs have been blasted as “left-leaning” and “woke” for producing historically inaccurate images and information. Adobe Firefly

But it is the future, the former educator noted, and has “hit us at warp speed.”

“As we embrace this technology in our daily lives, educators and students must use it responsibly and under careful supervision in schools,” Holden said.

NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks last May moved to embrace OpenAI’s ChatGPT following the DOE’s ban on the technology earlier in the year.

Google’s parent company Alphabet lost more than $70 billion in market value in a single trading day after its chatbot was slammed for churning out inaccurate images.
Google’s parent company Alphabet lost more than $70 billion in market value in a single trading day after its chatbot was slammed for churning out inaccurate images.
AI platforms have generated historically inaccurate images of women and people of color when asked for images of the pope.
AI platforms have generated historically inaccurate images of women and people of color when asked for images of the pope.

The city’s network of Urban Assembly schools introduced using AI for teacher coaching, Chalkbeat reported in January.

The district-led pilot is allowing teachers more time to engage with students, DOE spokeswoman Jenna Lyle told The Post.

“In order to prepare our young people for lifelong success and prepare them today to lead tomorrow, our students and educators must take full advantage of the technological advancements at their fingertips,” she said.