Students and Artificial Intelligence: A New Frontier in Essay Writing

By Ryan McKinney

In the digital age, the educational landscape is continually evolving, with technology playing an increasingly significant role in the way students learn and teachers instruct. One notable development in this context is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in essay writing by students, particularly children. This innovative approach has transformed the writing process, offering both advantages and challenges. In this essay, we will explore how kids use Al to write essays and examine the measures that teachers are taking to adapt to this new paradigm.

Al, in the form of natural language processing and generation algorithms, has become an invaluable tool for students of all ages. Kids are no exception. They have been quick to adopt Al-assisted tools that streamline the essay-writing process. Some of the ways Al is impacting essay writing for kids include:

– Generating Content Al can assist kids in generating ideas and content for their essays. Al-powered content generators, like ChatGPT, can provide inspiration and help structure the essay’s key points.
– Proofreading and Editing: Al-driven grammar and spell checkers can significantly improve the quality of kids’ essays. These tools help identify and correct errors, ensuring that the final product is polished and well-structured.
– Plagiarism Detection: Al tools are employed to detect plagiarism in students’ essays. This not only promotes originality but also encourages kids to develop their own critical thinking and research skill.
– Language Translation: Al-driven translation tools are instrumental in aiding non-native
English speakers, allowing them to write essays in their native languages and then translating them to English or other languages.
– Accessibility: Al-powered text-to-speech and speech-to-text tools have made essay writing accessible to kids with learning disabilities or those who struggle with traditional writing methods.

While the integration of Al in essay writing offers numerous advantages, it also raises some important challenges and ethical concerns. These include:

– Overreliance: There is a risk that students might become overly reliant on Al, potentially stunting their development of essential writing and critical thinking skills.
– Plagiarism: Some students may misuse Al to plagiarize content or take shortcuts in their essays, undermining academic integrity.
– Quality Control: Al-generated content is not always of high quality, which can lead to © Regenerate essays if not adequately reviewed and refined.   
– Data Privacy: Concerns over data privacy and security arise when students use online AI tools for essay writing. These tools may collect and store sensitive information.

In response to the growing use of Al in essay writing, teachers and educators have been taking proactive measures to ensure that students benefit from this technology while maintaining the integrity of the learning process. Some of the strategies employed by teachers include:

– Education and Awareness: Teachers are educating students about the responsible use of Al in essay writing. They emphasize that Al tools should be supplements, not replacements, for their writing skill.
– Assignments and Assessments: Teachers design assignments that are less prone to Al assistance. They focus on topics that require critical thinking, personal reflection, and creativity, making it challenging for students to rely solely on Al tools.
– Encouraging Ethical Use: Teachers emphasize the importance of ethical writing and proper citation to discourage plagiarism.
– Monitoring and Evaluation: Teachers utilize plagiarism detection tools to ensure that students are submitting original work and are not taking undue advantage of Al.
– Skill Development: While embracing Al, teachers continue to focus on developing essential writing, research, and critical thinking skills in students. They teach these skills alongside the use of Al tools.

The integration of Al in essay writing by kids is an exciting development that has the potential to enhance their writing and learning experience. However, it also poses challenges and ethical concerns that must be addressed. Teachers play a vital role in striking the right balance, ensuring that students use Al tools responsibly and continue to develop essential writing and critical thinking skills. The future of education will likely involve a harmonious coexistence between students and Al, where each complements the other to create a more enriching and effective learning environment. In fact, this whole story that you read was entirely written by AI.

US English Teacher Leaves the Classroom for the Commons

By Kyleigh Lewis

One of Oak Hall’s Upper School (US) teachers has left the classroom to join the Learning Commons team. English teacher Paul Mucci changed positions at the beginning of this school year to work as a Learning Specialist.

In his 33 years of teaching, Mucci is still somewhat new to Oak Hall, starting here three years ago. “The first year was eighth and ninth, then all ninth last year and now here in the learning center,” he said.

Mucci, originally got his degree in English so he could attend law school. However, after getting a job at the Boys Club (now known as the Boys & Girls Club), he realized how much he enjoyed working with children. “Instead of applying to law school, I applied to graduate school to get my degree in education because, I just liked working with kids,” Mucci noted.

Working with kids for so long has given Mucci an understanding of how rough times can affect people. While he taught, he grasped to the fact that teachers may not always know what is going on in the life of their students. Knowing that every child is unique and has their own struggles made it easier for him when students took out their aggression on him. “Sometimes if kids don’t perform well or [don’t] have the best attitude, it may not be because of my class, subject, or me. It could be caused by things like not getting enough sleep, being hungry or going through a break-up,” the veteran teacher said. “I really had to learn not to take things personally. That I’d understand there are other things going on and that has helped me deal with people.”

With Mucci changing his career to a learning specialist, he expressed that working in the Learning Commons has allowed him to continue helping students learn a particular subject or help find new study habits; so, he never stopped being a teacher. As to why he changed his career, he elaborated that he wanted to try something different and challenge himself while still doing what he loves.

Mandatory Study Hall for Freshmen Disappears

By Ava West

To the surprise of many Oak Hall Upper School (US) students, freshmen no longer have to attend study hall their first semester. Instead, they automatically have a free period. The US administration researched data and grades from previous freshmen classes and found that “most freshmen use free periods at least partly to study and get ahead,” explained Upper School Director John Perlette. While many US students participate in after school activities, the new freedom is encourage to be used to get ahead of their homework.

“When I was a freshman, [mandatory study hall] was very beneficial because when freshmen first come to the Upper School they don’t know what to expect,” said junior Major Collins. Defaulting to study halls isn’t necessary for all students as most already use the free period to see teachers and study independently. Study halls are mandated for students who need a little bit of guidance and help to get on top of their grades. When interims are sent by teachers to parents for students that have earned a C- or below in a class, Oak Hall’s Learning Center team are made aware of the situation. If a student has two or more grades of a C- or below, a mandatory study hall is put into place. In addition, if a student is failing a class, they are also put into a mandatory study hall.

When freshmen had study hall their first semester, it wasn’t as structured as the current study hall is. “When I ran study hall as a teacher I would say ‘Listen, you have work to do, and I have work to do if you are getting my attention, you are not doing the right thing’. That is not a supportive environment for students to earn their way out of study hall and I’ll be the first to admit that,” Perlette stated. The Learning Center also provides a consistent, concentrated study hall environment for students who need the extra help.

Homecoming Week Information

By Ryan McKinney

Homecoming week is this week, and the Oak Hall Student Government Association (SGA) have already prepared for the action-packed series of events. The week begins on Sunday, Oct. 8 starting with “Deck the Halls” at the Upper School (US) from 1 to 4 p.m. This event features the US student body interactively decorating the halls in the upper school to fit the homecoming theme of “Glow Back in Time”.

On Monday, Oct. 9 US students can dress as the theme of “Prince/Princesses vs. Pirates” where students have the choice to display their buccaneer-like characteristics or royal emergence. The Middle School (MS) students can also participate in by dressing up in their favorite sports team attire, while the ECLC and Lower School (LS) can wear their silliest socks for “Silly Sock Day”.

During lunch, SGA will participate in a “Stuff the Bus” activity for the US students outside the gym. The same night, the US ladies will participate in the old fashion tradition of the Powder Puff football game. In this activity, each grade level will form a football team of girls with five male coaches from each grade and face off against each other, flag football style, until one team wins it all. The game will be held at 7 p.m. at the Oak Hall Stadium. It is strongly encouraged that students come out to support their grade levels team even if they’re not involved in the actual game.

Next, on Tuesday, Oct. 10 the US student body will dress up to fit idea of “Mathletes vs. Athletes” where students can either portray themselves in their favorite sport gear or as a certified geek. MS students can show off their best burgundy and gold, and the LS gets in on the action by representing their grade for color wars. During lunch, US will engage in the dodgeball tradition held in the gym with teams separated by grade level. The championship dodgeball game will be a head-to-head matchup between the victorious grade and the team full of faculty and staff members.

Furthermore, the week just keeps on getting better. On Wednesday, Oct. 11 US and MS students can take part in dressing up as their designated decade. The LS might see a lot of Gator gear on Wednesday as the LS students can wear their favorite sports jersey or shirt.

During lunch, on Wednesday, US students can participate in “Minute to Win it” games in the gym for prizes. In contrast to the Powder Puff girls football game, the Powder Buff boys’ volleyball game will take place at 7 p.m. in the Oxborough Gymnasium. The games will consist of close battles between each grade to see which team contains the best chemistry and volleyball skills. Also, any Upper School girl may volunteer in coaching the volleyball teams.

Thursday, Oct. 12 the US students will have their own color war, MS students can dress up as different versions of Barbie or Ken, and the littles get to wear their favorite Disney gear. Once again, a favorite homecoming tradition for the US is capture the flag. Students, faculty, and staff can participate at lunch at the stadium.

The last school day of the week all students can dress in the usual “Oak Hall Spirit Day” theme representing the Eagles. In addition, first graders through seniors will join together in the gym for our homecoming pep rally, which begins at 2:30 p.m.

Just because the school day is over doesn’t mean the fun doesn’t stop! OHS is hosting a tailgate from 5-7 p.m. at the fountain in front of the US (you can register for free tickets by clicking here), it’s senior night for the cheerleaders and football players, and, of course, the football homecoming game. In addition, the homecoming king and queen will be announced at halftime.

In closing, the busy yet extremely fun week comes to an end with the traditional homecoming dance on Saturday, Oct 14 at the Tailgate Terrace in UF’s football stadium.

Lastly, a big thanks to Oak Hall’s SGA, the division directors, and Mrs. McTureous for planning this fun-filled week!

Color Wars:

ECLC/LS (Tuesday, Oct. 10):
Preschool – Yellow
Junior Kindergarten – Blue
Kindergarten – Pink
1st Grade – Green
2nd Grade – Red
3rd Grade – Orange
4th Grade- – Purple
5th Grade- – White

Upper School (Thursday, Oct. 12):
Freshmen – Neon Yellow
Sophomores – Neon Orange
Juniors – Neon Green
Seniors – Neon Pink

Decades Day:
Middle School and Upper School (Wednesday, Oct. 11)
6th Grade – 1980s
7th Grade – 1990s
8th Grade – 2000s
Freshmen – 40s – “We Want You!”
Sophomores – 50s – “At the Hop/Greasers and Pink Ladies”
Juniors – 60s – “Groovy Baby/Peace/Love”
Seniors – 70s – “Boogie Nights/ Disco Fever”v