851- engage students in an ai age

4 Essential Ingredients to Engage Students in the AI Age

The four aspects of engaging students in the AI age.

A.J. Juliani, author if the upcoming book Meaningful & Relevant: Engaging Learners in an Age of Distraction (will be posted here when it is live), talks about how this generation has changed, the hinge of history now upon us and what it means to be an excellent educator in this age with his four ingredients of what creates a meaningful learning experience.

His powerful examples help us understand what we can become to engage and transform our classrooms in positive ways (and keep what works.) His talk will inspire and encourage you.

podcast-851 engage students in a world of AI
  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Subscribe to the Show

    10 minute teacher podcas audible

    This week's sponsor


    This is financial literacy month! I recently taught my students about budgets and they were so grateful! Teach students the things that matter during financial literacy month and beyond! From budgets to banking to credit and savings, choose a topic and use it in your classroom with EVERFI’s free financial literacy lesson plans.
    Click Here

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sponsors make this show possible but do not preapprove or necessarily endorse the content. Please support our sponsors by clicking on the link and checking out their services. We only recommend the best in education on the 10 Minute Teacher! Learn what it means for this to be a sponsored episode.

    YouTube Video (April 3, 2024 at 11 am)

    This week's guest

    AJ JulianiA.J. Juliani is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of Adaptable. He serves as an Instructor for the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PLN) and former Director of Learning and Innovation for Centennial School District. As a Curriculum Coordinator, Tech Director, English teacher, football coach, and K-12 Instructional Coach, A.J. has worked towards innovative learning experiences for schools in various roles. A.J. is also an award-winning blogger, speaker, and author of multiple other books, including the best-sellers Empower, Launch, and The PBL Playbook. His favorite role is Dad to five kids!

    🎙️ Show Notes

    Resources Mentioned

    1. AJ Juliani's Books: Juliani has authored several books, including Empathy, Launch, Adaptable, and his latest, Meaningful and Relevant, Engaging Learners in the Age of Distraction. These resources offer insights into creating more engaging and meaningful learning experiences.

    2. The Backwards Podcast: Hosted by AJ Juliani, this podcast explores the concept of backwards engineering problems, presenting a unique approach to problem-solving and learning.

    3. Educational Tools:

      • ChatGPT: An AI tool mentioned for generating ideas and aiding in lesson plan creation.
      • Magic School: A tool that helps educators create relevant and engaging learning experiences. MagicSchool.ai
      • Curipod and School AI: Platforms designed with child privacy and data laws in mind, facilitating safe and effective AI use in education.
      • Jenni.ai: Recommended by A.J. for MLA and APA citations, highlighting its usefulness for students, especially at the high school level.

    Actionable Tips

    1. Leverage AI for Personalized Learning: Educators can use AI tools to tailor lessons to students' interests and the real-world application of knowledge, making learning more relevant and engaging.

    2. Focus on the Four Pillars of Learning: Design learning experiences that are human, social, meaning-centered, and language-based to foster deeper engagement and understanding.

    3. Incorporate Real-World Relevance: Use current events, technological trends, and students' interests as entry points to explore academic concepts, bridging the gap between classroom learning and the outside world.

    4. Navigate AI Ethically: Educators should familiarize themselves with the ethical implications of using AI in the classroom, including issues related to data privacy and the digital divide. Employing tools like the traffic light protocol can help manage the use of AI, ensuring it enriches learning without compromising ethics or engagement.

    📝 Transcript

    I used AI in either Premiere Pro or Riverside to help with this transcript. I did proofread it. If you see mistakes, just contact me and let me know. YouTube autotranscripts are not pre-viewed. Thank you!


    Vicki Davis (00:00)

    I'm so excited today. We are with one of my quote, oldest friends on the internet. We did the flat classroom project back in 2006, won the ISTE online learning award in 2006 for best global collaborative project. And it was a lot of fun AJ, it was a long time ago for both of us. But, and I'm saying this because I rely on AJ,

    AJ Juliani (00:05)



    Vicki Davis (00:23)

    He's a thought leader, He has amazing keynotes. He's written bestsellers, empathy, launch, adaptable. And now he has a new book, Meaningful and Relevant, Engaging Learners in the Age of Distraction. He also has a podcast called The Backwards. And that's backwards engineering

    problems which is great. AJ, we're going to talk today about how can we be meaningful and relevant and engage learners in the age of distraction. And you know what? Kids have changed. How have they changed?

    AJ Juliani (00:53)

    Vicki, thanks again for having me on the podcast. It's always great to catch up with you. And you're someone I've been looking up to since I was classroom teacher, looking for something to do with my kids that were going to get them beyond the classroom walls and flat classroom project, which was amazing, but many things over the years, we were chatting and you mentioned a term that I've been talking about a lot as well, which is that we're in this moment of a hinge of history.

    Vicki Davis (00:57)


    AJ Juliani (01:16)

    Right? This, this moment of a hinge of history where there's a, a technological advancement that happens that impacts everybody and kind of changes the world a little bit. And you can think about printing press and the information revolution, right? You could think about the telegraph and all of a sudden making the world smaller because people have transatlantic communication, radio and television, mass broadcasts, obviously the digital revolution with computers. And the last one we were just in was the internet.

    Vicki Davis (01:23)


    AJ Juliani (01:43)

    You know, obviously a lot of people are talking about AI as being this hinge of history right now, but the internet really changed kids and us for good. And I want you to think about this. Do you remember that show Cribs, Vicki, back in the day? Remember that show?

    Vicki Davis (01:53)


    AJ Juliani (01:59)

    It was the best, right? It was just basically showing you famous people's houses. You got to see their houses, you got to see their cars, it was their crib, and you got to see inside of their fridge and everything like that. When I was growing up, that was my only insight into the world of the rich and famous. I lived in a small town, I had two friends that were quote unquote rich, one was a lawyer, the doctor, right, that was the type of thing. Today's kids live in such a different world.

    Vicki Davis (02:03)

    Oh yeah, okay.

    AJ Juliani (02:27)

    Vicki, right? I have five kids of my own. I have a teenager, I have a middle schooler. They, on these devices, I'm holding up a phone in my hand right here, follow thousands of people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars from doing dances, putting on makeup, playing video games. And so when we talk about our kids in today's world, and we try to say, follow this traditional path, school is important, seven hours a day, pay attention, two hours of homework.

    It's very difficult for this generation to understand that in the same way we did, because they have a whole different world at their fingertips that they're experiencing.

    Vicki Davis (03:02)


    So how do we engage them in education? Is it hopeless? We know it's not.

    AJ Juliani (03:10)

    No, I don't think it's hopeless at all, but I think there's four big things that I always talk about. We need our learning experiences to be human, to be social, to be meaning-centered, and to be language-based. Now, of course, those four things have changed over time, but if you had Aristotle and Socrates, those four things create a learning and engaged experience in their time. For us, the things that don't really work anymore

    traditional, compliance-based, boring, and standardized. AI crushes those, but also kids don't pay attention when that is the environment. And so we need to focus on those big four things.

    Vicki Davis (03:51)

    So can we go through each of these four things and just let you give examples? So learning experiences need to be human, go there.

    AJ Juliani (03:59)

    Human. So they need to be human in the same way that we need to interact with people. Right. So human basically means it doesn't always have to be face to face. But you've probably had like a meaningful conversation on this device over the past 24 48 hours. Right.

    Vicki Davis (04:16)

    right before we talked.

    AJ Juliani (04:17)

    with necessarily a computer or something along those lines. Now they can be aided by a digital device, but still need to be. Yes, right, exactly, right? So that's human, we were using Wikis, nowadays you can use something else, but that idea of interacting. Social takes that to the next level. Social basically says, you know, in the real world outside of school, you're not necessarily doing a lot of whole tests by yourself. You're able to interact with your peers, be able to ask questions.

    Vicki Davis (04:23)

    like you and me with a flat classroom. Yeah.


    AJ Juliani (04:47)

    I always think about like that show, who wants to be a millionaire? You can phone a friend, right? So we could do that all the time in the real world. That's that social aspect of things. We'll go down to meaning centered. Now all of a sudden it gets pretty serious. Is the experiences our kids are having in school meaningful and relevant? Or are they just a product of a very standardized curriculum?

    Vicki Davis (05:01)


    AJ Juliani (05:11)

    I'll give you an example, Vicki. When I was young, I went through my dinosaur phase. And I believe everybody had a dinosaur phase, right? But when I went through my dinosaur phase, I went to my third grade teacher, Ms. Herring, and I said, hey, Ms. Herring, it's September When are we gonna learn about dinosaurs? And she said, February. And the only thing I could do between September and February is go to the library and pull out a book. Well, my son just went through his dinosaur phase. And he didn't have any of that problem. He was watching a live show on YouTube.

    Vicki Davis (05:17)


    AJ Juliani (05:38)

    from the very best paleontologist in the world who has added dig site, putting on a show for kids. That's the difference of meaning. We have to tap into all those experiences that are out there for our kids and bring them to our kids or at least help them go and get them. And that's what meaning looks like. And the last one, which is language-based, just means in any way, shape or form, there needs to be that communication that's happening for learning to happen.

    And it could be communication with texting, emails, online, you know, DMing, all those different types of things. What can we face to face? You know, language-based communication, but language and learning to use language effectively is pretty much one of the most important skills that we have out there. So those four are the big ones right now.

    Vicki Davis (06:29)

    Because text opens the door for everything from creating other text to creating art to creating music. And we're not talking about all the ethics right now, but creating just about anything now comes down to our ability to use descriptive, effective, imaginative, creative language. Like language has always been important.

    but that's where the spark of creativity because AI by itself is pretty bland and not creative. AI with a human and man, it uses the word Delve all the time. Like what's up? Like ChatGPT has its favorite words and it drives me crazy because if I see somebody use the word Delve, I'll know they use ChatGPT to write it. Isn't that horrible?

    AJ Juliani (07:15)

    You know, GPT is always delving, right? Always.

    Vicki Davis (07:17)

    It's always “delving”. It's like, what's up with this? What's it, what delve What, who says that? Chat GPT says its favorite word. So you've noticed it too.

    AJ Juliani (07:25)

    No, I, yes, I mean, I think you're right. So, you know, in a world of AI, we still want kids to think. We want them to create. And the only way as an educator or a parent or a mentor that I can see kids thinking is through their use of language. And so language is so important for us to focus on right now in all its variety of

    Vicki Davis (07:46)

    So let's talk about what it can't be because sometimes we have to have a wake-up call. How long have we been saying that, quote, lecture doesn't work? Now I wanna make a caveat because like, there are a few times a year I can give a speech on the history of technology that is uniquely me because I have lived it. I have been using a computer since I was seven.

    I can talk about the day this happened, the day that happened, the first time I used like, it is different because I am telling stories and it's a human connection and it's a conversation, okay? So we can't say teacher at the front of the room never happens because that's part of being human and interesting and all that, right? But every day lecturing bell to bell, like what's it gonna take to help us understand that doesn't necessarily engage learners?

    AJ Juliani (08:38)

    Yeah, I would start off and just say, I think we already know that. whenever I ask people what your best learning experiences are, it's normally something that they're doing hands-on, experiential, project-based, inquiry-based. What are the things that you remember from your school and experience? It's a connection with the teacher. How do you build those connections? A lot of times through those projects and things like that. Right, so I think we inherently know it. And I actually…

    Vicki Davis (08:46)



    AJ Juliani (09:01)

    Empathize with teachers and administrators everywhere because the system has put a lot of guardrails on folks where they have to cover Curriculum they have to teach the test those different types of things And so a lot of times the system is set up where it makes it really hard to do some of the things that we just know Inherently work look at the research it works as well But one of my favorite that I like working with teachers all the time is I like having them say, okay

    Vicki Davis (09:19)


    AJ Juliani (09:28)

    you have a unit coming up, and you know that the students think it a little bit this is where I think the power of AI really helps, because previously I would have to sit down and spend hours with my colleagues trying to come up with some meaningful and relevant ways to engage our learners.

    Vicki Davis (09:46)


    AJ Juliani (09:46)

    Now, when I work with teachers, I use a tool like ChatGPT or Magic School, and I give what grade level I'm teaching, right? Set the context. I give what my unit's about, set kind of what that experience is. And then I can tell Magic School in the make it relevant portion there, I can tell ChatGPT, hey, here are what my students are interested. You know, maybe they're interested in…

    Vicki Davis (10:12)


    AJ Juliani (10:14)

    social media and video games and sports or whatever, makeup, whatever I want to be, give me some ideas to make this unit relevant. And all of a sudden I got three, four, five ideas that I can then take my human intelligence to take it a step further and something that's actionable. So now I've gone and saved that 10 hours of time in terms of coming up with the ideas. I've got the ideas and now I can use my time to actually put it into action. And…

    I've just seen teachers' eyes light up when they get these ideas because they want to do what's best for kids. They wanna get that attention through meaningful and relevant ways, and now it's more accessible than ever.

    Vicki Davis (10:52)

    Yeah. Listen, I've learned more about soccer, which is big at my school, using chat GPT, most of my kids in my AP computer science principles class play soccer. And so were struggling with the difference between parameters and arguments. And I was able to go in and say, I need some examples of parameters and arguments using soccer examples.

    and I need problems that they can solve. And listen, the light bulb went on. I was honest with them. I'm trying to teach you parameters and arguments. I'm trying to make it relevant. And then we actually went in and I had them create other examples using ChatGPT. And I said, okay, how can we use this tool to teach us?

    pick something you like. And so one person did, the best example is actually football, And like the whole class is like, we get it. And that was a great moment, but it was not only I modeled it, I taught them. So I really like to talk a lot about effective use of AI. It's appropriate to use it here, not there.

    And this is just part of being a teacher, like guiding them through. So there are a lot of schools that are afraid of AI and don't want to talk about it. Or they'll say, you can't mention it or you can't talk about it. I think the last time I saw this fear in my lifetime was when the internet came out, you know, don't talk about it. We're not going to admit that it's there. What do you do to help people through the fear factor?

    into, okay, how do we live with this and teach with this and find its appropriate place?

    AJ Juliani (12:19)

    Yeah, you know, I'm afraid as well. I like to tell people I'm not pro AI or anti AI. I'm just kind of more of a realist that it's here. You know, I have five kids in school. I work with teachers and students all the time. And so there's very real ethical, moral bias concerns out there. What I like to tell people is two focuses, right? It's kind of twofold. Number one, there's some tools out there.

    Vicki Davis (12:22)




    AJ Juliani (12:48)

    that have already been created for educators with some safeguards in place that are helping educators do great work. I use Magic School as an example. It helps at the same time. You can develop real world connections, relevant things, choice boards. You can summarize text, level text, right? Translate text, all these things that we do all the time. Helps with IEPs, with accommodations, modifications. So why not start there with your staff in saying, let's use this together.

    Vicki Davis (12:57)


    AJ Juliani (13:18)

    with a tool that's created for educators with some safeguards in place and see how you can use it, right? The second way is when we talk about student use, we have to be very clear that we're using tools that actually have child privacy and data laws at the heart, right? So the two that I like a lot are Curipod, which is kind of like a Nearpod, Pear Deck, Kahoot type thing.

    Vicki Davis (13:44)


    AJ Juliani (13:45)

    where kids don't have to log in with Google. They don't have to do anything. They just put in their name. And so there's none of that privacy or data that you're losing there. And the same one is School AI, which does the same thing. So I like those two tools. But Vicki, the big thing that I talk about when I work with schools a lot is that we have to talk about it and address it. We can't live in some fairy land where we act like this doesn't exist on every device that our kids and of us have.

    Vicki Davis (13:48)


    AJ Juliani (14:15)

    Right? And so we can't just keep on playing the gotcha games, trying to catch it. So we actually have to create some parameters or protocols on how we use it. Now a school district outside of Philadelphia near me named Garnet Valley school district. Created this wonderful traffic light protocol that I share all the time. And basically red would be a lesson or activity where we're not allowed to use AI. We want to see your thinking, you individually, there's plenty of opportunities where we don't really want.

    Vicki Davis (14:33)


    AJ Juliani (14:44)

    AI or assisted technologies to come help the kids. And so that would be a red kind of lesson or activity. Then there's yellow. That's where the students have to ask for permission. Say a kid is struggling with math and they say, hey, Mr. J, am I able to use photo math to just kind of help me see some of the work problems and solutions tonight as I'm getting ready for that quiz, just to help me out? Of course, because they asked my permission, I'm giving them back to them, right? There's a kid that's.

    Vicki Davis (15:02)


    AJ Juliani (15:12)

    struggling on a writing assignment, they wanna come up with some ideas. Hey, can I use this tool? Of course, right? They're getting some permission, that would be yellow. And then there's green. And green is where teachers were encouraging use. An example I like to give for this one is, MLA citation and Works Cited. I used to spend hours and units on that. I would now, use these two tools, get your work cited, right? Your MLA citation, keep the academic integrity, but don't take all the time that it used to take.

    Vicki Davis (15:19)




    AJ Juliani (15:40)

    So now when we have that red, yellow, and green, we're able to actually discuss and talk about use with our staff members, with our colleagues, and of course with the kids.

    Vicki Davis (15:48)

    Yeah. So what are your favorite tools for MLA and APA?

    AJ Juliani (15:52)

    I mean, I still like, you know, the Purdue Owl trusted one out there, but my favorite AI one is actually Jenni.ai, which is J-E-N-N-I.ai. Especially for high school students and older, it just does a fantastic job.

    Vicki Davis (16:09)

    You taught me a new one. I'm so excited. Well, AJ Giuliani, the new book is Meaningful and Relevant, Engaging Learners in an Age of Distraction. He's real deal.

    AJ Juliani (16:11)

    Thank you.

    Vicki Davis (16:20)

    And I highly recommend AJ just for everything. And I hope that all of you will go out and pre-order his book. Thanks for coming on the show.

    AJ Juliani (16:28)

    Vicki, thanks so much for having me right back at you. Learned so much from you. And to everybody out there listening, keep on doing the good work.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Never miss an episode

    Get the 10-minute Teacher Show delivered to your inbox.

    Powered by ConvertKit
    Picture of Vicki Davis

    Vicki Davis

    Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

    All Posts »

    Leave a Reply


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
    Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere