<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=940171109376247&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Dedicated to Teachers


On the Podcast: The Dispatch with Carol Jago

The Dispatch: A Heinemann Podcast Series with Carol Jago



Welcome to The Dispatch, a Heinemann Podcast series. Over the next several weeks, we'll hear from Heinemann thought leaders as they discuss the most pressing issues in education today. In today's episode, Heinemann author Carol Jago speaks to the resilience she sees in both teachers and students. Our conversation begins with her thoughts on the implications of AI.

Want to watch instead?


Below is a full transcript of the episode:

Carol Jago:

This is going to be part of the fabric of our students' lives, and so we need to teach ourselves and we need to open ourselves up to that education and then to invite students to think through all of this together. There are so many benefits. I wrote the book, Papers, Papers, Papers about really focusing on kids need descriptive feedback in the process of their writing, more than evaluation at the end. What if artificial intelligence can actually provide that?

Edie:

Hi, this is Edie. Welcome to The Dispatch, a Heinemann Podcast series. Over the next several weeks, we'll hear from Heinemann thought leaders as they discuss the most pressing issues in education today. In today's episode, Heinemann author, Carol speaks to the resilience she sees in both teachers and students. Our conversation begins with her thoughts on the implications of AI.

Carol:

I think the most pressing issue right now is artificial intelligence and how it's going to have an effect on every classroom, every student, every teacher in America. I think our challenge is to figure out how to capitalize on the benefits and mitigate the dangers, the harm. It seems to me as I work with teachers in schools, that the first instinct was to ban it. It's not banable. This is going to be part of the fabric of our students' lives, and so we need to teach ourselves and we need to open ourselves up to that education and then to invite students to think through all of this together. There are so many benefits.

I wrote the book, Papers, Papers, Papers about really focusing on kids need descriptive feedback in the process of their writing, more than evaluation at the end. What if artificial intelligence can actually provide that? And there's research coming out that shows human feedback is a little bit better, but given the realities of a classroom with 36 students. So I think there are benefits, but we've got to be careful. This is dangerous territory.

Edie:

Have you brushed up against this and started to figure it out a little bit or figure out your own thoughts on it?

Carol:

I think that I've played with it is a lot, and that the more you experiment yourself, the more you begin to understand what it can do. This is not just a Google search.

Edie:

Right.

Carol:

This is a compilation, a synthesis, an analysis, if you will, of what's out there. Which doesn't mean it always gets it right.

Edie:

No.

Carol:

I had a great experience asking it to write an analysis of a Robert Pinsky poem, and of course, within 10 seconds, an essay came up that got it completely wrong. It said it was a conversation between a robot and a person. It wasn't a conversation, but what was interesting to me as a teacher, if I'd been handed that paper, I probably still would've given it like a B-. It sounded really smart, and I'd be kind. I'd be saying, "Well, they just got this little bit wrong." So it's questions like that that I really am suggesting to English departments, you need to talk about this. You need to think through what it is that this tool, how can this tool help us and how can we help our students not let the tool do the thinking for them?

Edie:

Yes. Yeah. I know I've actually been playing a little bit with it in my own work life, but I'll ask really specific questions just to get another opinion. "Do you think this is a well-written passage?" Not like writing the passage for me, but like you said, it's another level of feedback, so it's interesting. I'm just starting to understand it in my own life as well.

Carol:

Yes, and schools, English teachers are all worried about plagiarism.

Edie:

Right.

Carol:

And I actually think that's the least of our worries. It is a big word, but the much larger issue has to do what happens when we turn over thinking to a tool and what happens to creativity when we let this tool put together images and it does it beautifully? It is going to change the world that our children are growing up in.

Edie:

So I'll pivot now to ask you, and I'm always excited to ask you this question. What are you reading? What are your influences right now? What's on your bookshelf?

Carol:

I've recently read an extraordinary book. It's called A Man of Two Faces by Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Sympathizer.

Edie:

Oh, yeah.

Carol:

Remember that?

Edie:

Yes, I do.

Carol:

About the Vietnamese spy. This is a memoir and a memorial. So it's his own experience as a refugee, but it's a memorial to his parents and to the lives they led and their sacrifices. You know how sometimes you find a book and you say, "This is art, this is the real thing?" He's funny. He's irreverent. It's utterly contemporary. I couldn't put it down. I first saw it at the library. I think I'd read a review, and then after I read it, I went and bought it, like, "I need that book with me." And that doesn't happen all the time.

I read a lot of books. I buy a lot of books, though I have a new very important personal challenge, which is I can't bring another book into the house unless I give one away. And so fortunately, I live in a community with a lot of little libraries. So every day when I take a walk, there are eight of them within walking distance of my house.

Edie:

Oh, do you mean the little libraries...?

Carol:

That sit on people's front... On the parkway or on their front lawns. And so I take a bag of books and I use the criteria, "Will you ever read this book again?"

Edie:

Oh, it's so hard though.

Carol:

It's so hard.

Edie:

It's still so hard.

Carol:

Oh, it's so hard. But my shelves are creaking.

Edie:

Yes.

Carol:

There is no more room to live, and I keep buying.

Edie:

I relate to that.

Carol:

Yes. So can't bring one in until I give one more away. There are actually a lot of books of my husband's that I want to give away, but he won't let me go there yet.

Edie:

I think that would be hilarious if you were giving his away and getting more for yourself.

Carol:

Every marriage makes it work.

Edie:

Exactly, yeah. Are there any voices in education specifically that you're following right now too, or reading that you're... I'd love to ask you about that additionally, if you don't mind.

Carol:

I think Tricia Ebarvia's book Get Free is a really, really powerful approach to thinking about our own biases as teachers, and it's also an incredible resource. She recommends as prompts to student writing, so many great essays that, again, as I work with teachers in schools, not every teacher is reading Harper's in Atlantic every month. And here, you have a curated list of really excellent first-rate essays to use.

Edie:

Tell me a little bit about how you're working in education right now?

Carol:

Right now, in terms of my own writing, I find I'm writing in response to things. So people ask me, "Oh, could you write a piece for this publication?" And it's an interesting kind of writing on demand. Then I also continue to edit California English, the quarterly journal of the California Teachers of English, and that means I have to be always thinking about what's the next issue? We just did an issue on artificial intelligence, and the next issue is on climate change. And you might not automatically think this is for English teachers, but these are the things that English teachers and their students are in their faces.

Edie:

Right.

Carol:

And so it is interesting that I get a lot of submissions on those issues.

Edie:

And we grapple with how to make sense of complex issues through writing, through those practices.

Carol:

With the climate change issue, I'm hoping to get a lot of manuscripts where teachers suggest books. The Heat Will Kill You First. Things like non-fiction books that can be used in the classroom.

Edie:

So my last question today, when you look across the spectrum of education, when you think about your own experiences, what gives you hope?

Carol:

What gives me hope is the resilience that I see both in the profession and among students, to realize what students have been through with the pandemic break, the news that comes out every month about learning loss and how poor scores are, that can be devastating to individual students and to their teachers, but that's not what I see. There's a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth at an administrative level. But what I see is I work in the schools and offer PD, I see teachers with endless hope and still looking for that perfect book for ninth grade boys and still willing to experiment, to try new things with their students, to be willing to talk to students.

I was also very, very encouraged by a new book by Gay Ivy and Peter Johnson, which is research that they did following a group of eighth graders who weren't doing any reading. And then the teachers just gave them time to read, free choice and time to talk, and they followed these students through high school, and yes, their reading improved. They were reading more, but that wasn't even the most interesting finding. The most interesting finding is that the kids reported feeling better about themselves. They felt they were better human beings. They felt that they understood other perspectives better. I love research that supports what I already believe.

So their study to me is such a confirmation of literature circles, reader circles, that the importance of talk for comprehension and more, for how we want to construct this world. It was a really interesting insight too, when they asked students about, "Well, aren't you reading about dangerous things in kids hurting themselves or the rest?" The kids laughed. They said, "We don't use these stories as a guideline for our lives," but it helps them experience vicariously things that they're interested in, that they're worried about and ultimately helps them to be better people. Isn't that what we want?

Edie:

Thank you for tuning in today. For more information and a full transcript, please visit blog.heinemann.com.


Sign up for our Newsletter!


caroljagoCarol Jago has taught English in middle and high school in public schools for 32 years and is associate director of the California Reading and Literature Project at UCLA. She served as president of the National Council of Teachers of English and as chair of the College Board’s English Academic Advisory committee.

She has published many books with Heinemann including The Book in Question: Why and How Reading Is in Crisis. She is alsoJago_Book_Cover author of With Rigor for All and Cohesive Writing: Why Concept Is Not Enough and published books on contemporary multicultural authors for NCTE. 

Carol was awarded the International Literacy Association’s Adolescent Literacy Thought Leader Award and the CEL Exemplary Leadership Award. She has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Association of Teachers of English. Carol has served on the National Assessment Governing Board and currently serves on the International Literacy Association’s Board of Directors. She is also the recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English Squire Award given to honor an individual who has had a transforming influence and has made a lasting intellectual contribution to the profession.

 

Topics: Podcast, Carol Jago, Heinemann Podcast, podcasts

Date Published: 03/14/24

Related Posts

ON THE PODCAST: Meaningful Experiences for the Secondary Multilingual Learner

Today, educator Alycia Owen and Heinemann author Andrea Honigsfeld, discuss the great importance of Andre...
Apr 21, 2024 11:00:00 AM

ON THE PODCAST: Writing as Healing with Willie Carver

Welcome to Writing as Healing, a Heinemann podcast series focused on writing as a tool to increase healin...
Apr 18, 2024 4:00:00 AM

ON THE PODCAST: The Power of Teaching History Thematically

For so long, history has been taught chronologically, but does it have to be and should it be? China Harv...
Apr 16, 2024 4:00:00 AM

ON THE PODCAST: Writing as Healing with David Rockower

Welcome to Writing as Healing, a Heinemann podcast series focused on writing as a tool to increase healin...
Apr 11, 2024 4:00:00 AM