The Educator's Notebook

A weekly collection of education-related news from around the web.

Educator’s Notebook #442 (April 10, 2024)


  • So many meaningful posts in this issue.

    From the high level feature articles (on the workplace today and school systems improvement) to multiple pieces on writing with AI (including one of the first rigorous studies I’ve seen on leveraging AI for assessing writing), this issue is chock full of good reading.

    Also, one article from last week had a broken link.  Find the post on “Most People Don’t Know What Teaching Actually Looks Like” in the History of Education section.

    Last, I am so thrilled that this weekend is bringing together three of my deep interests: education, music, and artificial intelligence. If you’ll be in San Diego at the AIR show or ASU GSV, please reach out, and come see Schooled: the Musical at the main stage on Sunday at 2:45pm — front page billing on the AIR Show website.  Should be a joyous ride!

    These and much, much more this week, including a robust AI Update below, as the field continues to rapidly evolve… enjoy!


    • Pew Research
    • 04/04/24

    “These findings are based on a survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2023, using the RAND American Teacher Panel. The survey looks at the following aspects of teachers’ experiences: Teachers’ job satisfaction, How teachers manage their workload, Problems students are facing at public K-12 schools, Challenges in the classroom, Teachers’ views of parent involvement, Teachers’ views on the state of public K-12 education”

    • RISE Programme
    • 04/01/24

    “A message cutting across all five actions is “focus to flourish”. Education systems have been tremendously successful at achieving specific educational goals, such as expanding schooling, because that is what they committed to, that is what they measured, that is what they were aligned for, and that is what they supported. In order to achieve system transformation for learning, systems must focus on learning and then act accordingly. Only after a system prioritises learning from among myriad competing educational goals can it dedicate the tremendous energies necessary to succeed at improving learning. The research points to these five actions as a means to chart a path out of the learning crisis and toward a future that offers foundational skills to all children.”


    • New York Times
    • 04/06/24

    “In 2023, 46 percent of seniors said that they’d had a drink in the year before being interviewed; that is a precipitous drop from 88 percent in 1979, when the behavior peaked, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey, a closely watched national poll of youth substance use. A similar downward trend was observed among eighth and 10th graders, and for those three age groups when it came to cigarette smoking. In 2023, just 15 percent of seniors said that they had smoked a cigarette in their life, down from a peak of 76 percent in 1977… There are some sobering caveats to the good news. One is that teen overdose deaths have sharply risen, with fentanyl-involved deaths among adolescents doubling from 2019 to 2020 and remaining at that level in the subsequent years.”

    • After Babel
    • 04/03/24


    • New York Times
    • 03/12/24

    “The pandemic brought live events and big gatherings to a halt, silencing orchestras, shutting museums and movie theaters and leaving sports teams playing to empty stadiums dotted with cardboard cutouts. Now, four years later, audiences are coming back, but the recovery has been uneven. Here is a snapshot of where things stand now:”












    • New York Times
    • 03/23/24

    “Karin Ryding, a professor emerita at Georgetown University who has studied Herbert’s use of Arabic, said that in graduate school in the late 1960s, she and her colleagues read “Dune” together: “It was a secret among us that we all enjoyed this particular science-fiction novel and its references to Arabic.””



    • EdWeek
    • 03/26/24
    • Kappan
    • 03/25/24

    “A few years into my principalship at Boston’s Mather Elementary School, teachers prodded me to shift to mini-observations — short, frequent, unannounced classroom visits, each followed by a face-to-face conversation. I used this approach with faculty support and good results for almost a decade. A growing number of schools have adopted versions of mini-observations, moving teacher evaluations from ineffective, compliance-driven drudgery to coaching for continuous improvement.”


    • Otus
    • 04/09/24
    • EdSurge
    • 04/03/24

    “Rather than explaining Balkan nationalism, start with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which provides an immediate point of interest and relevance for students. This approach is similar to a TV crime show that reveals the body in the first minute and then spends the rest of the show assembling evidence. By starting with a dramatic event that serves as a hook to draw students into the broader historical narrative, teachers can then make the details more engaging for students.”






A.I. Update


  • This is the year when different sectors work out ways in which AI really can and cannot provide value.  AI has been around long enough, and people have had time in different setting to experiment, that value starts to surface.  And what I love most of all, is that in this time we begin to see more surprising and specific use cases.

    One remarkable piece of data that emerged recently is in the post below in Uses and Applications about how AI can durably reduce conspiracy theory thinking. One study found that people inclined to conspiracy theories had their beliefs lastingly changed by having conversations with AI about their theories. The research showed that AI effectively acknowledges the thinking of the individual, neutrally provides contrary fact, and talks through the ideas with individuals.

    What is it about AI that makes it more effective than people at reducing conspiracy thinking in people? Perhaps when we are confronted by others about our beliefs, we feel a need to defend them rather than consider them logically? Perhaps it has to do with the way many AI tools are designed to mirror their conversation partner before introducing something new?

    Either way, what strikes me is the growing number of use cases for AI to intermediate with humans for their well being, such as the post in this issue about AI and counseling, which has also appeared in previous issues.  While there remains great risk in AI being used conversationally for harm, it is notable that positive use cases are also emerging.

    These and much, much more in this issue, enjoy!





    • Leon Furze
    • 04/09/24

    “In this post, I’ll discuss some of my personal objections to AI detection tools, and explore a new piece of research that once again proves AI detection tools don’t work.”

    • New York Times
    • 04/08/24

    “Using artificial intelligence, middle and high school students have fabricated explicit images of female classmates and shared the doctored pictures.”

    • Gary Marcus
    • 04/07/24
    • AI for Education
    • 04/01/24
    • Time
    • 04/01/24

    “Rather than just being worried about one giant AI apocalypse, we need to worry about the many small catastrophes that AI can bring. Unimaginative or stressed leaders may decide to use these new tools for surveillance and for layoffs. Educators may decide to use AI in ways that leave some students behind. And those are just the obvious problems.”

    • New York Times
    • 03/28/24
    • One Useful Thing
    • 06/18/23

    “The problems start with organizational policy. Many companies have banned ChatGPT use, often because of legal concerns that remain somewhat vague, based on uncertainty over the technology and regulatory worries… But these bans are having a big effect… they are causing employees to bring their phones into work and access AI from personal devices. While data is hard to come by, I have already met many people at companies where AI is banned who are using this workaround – and those are just the ones willing to admit it! This type of Shadow IT use is common in organizations, but it makes using AI in violation of company policies, and therefore something to keep hidden.”




Every week I send out articles I encounter from around the web. Subject matter ranges from hard knowledge about teaching to research about creativity and cognitive science to stories from other industries that, by analogy, inform what we do as educators. This breadth helps us see our work in new ways.

Readers include teachers, school leaders, university overseers, conference organizers, think tank workers, startup founders, nonprofit leaders, and people who are simply interested in what’s happening in education. They say it helps them keep tabs on what matters most in the conversation surrounding schools, teaching, learning, and more.

Peter Nilsson


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