PREPARE for teaching, Gemini and Chat GPT
PREPARE for teaching, Gemini and Chat GPT

PREPARE for teaching, Gemini and Chat GPT

I am forever re-thinking about the interplay of cognitive architecture, working memory and curriculum/instructional design, even more so when preparing schemes of learning at half-term. However, more recently, rather than thinking about what new information needs to be taught, I am thinking about what the essential prior knowledge required to access the new information and second, what new information, knowledge (and comprehension) is core, is “mission critical,” for pupils to progress forwards. I would argue, information or knowledge deemed non-essential should be set to one side – #cutthefluff #streamline. (I also accept that this curriculum decision is both complex and critical).

Less is absolutely more. (Especially when you consider the limits of working memory and bloated examination curricular).

Most people assume that providing learners with additional information is at worst, harmless and might be beneficial. Redundancy is anything but harmless. Providing unnecessary information can be a major reason for instructional failure.

Sweller (2016: 8)

Essential prior knowledge required to access the new information

In my experience, “essential prior knowledge” tends to be both knowledge (facts, terms, dates, vocabulary, processes or steps) and to a lesser extent “understanding.” Relearning is efficient and I often find pre-testing is a efficient approach to readying pupils (and teachers). Occasional misconceptions can hinder progress and need to be addressed.

Essential new information, knowledge and comprehension (what to teach)

As I have reported, defining what essential information, knowledge and comprehension pupils need to know and remember when they leave the lesson, when they have completed the unit, is both complex and critical. As is the sequencing, the pacing and explicit connections with what pupils already know. It always has been. However, with a better understanding of the limitations of human working memory, the frailties of retention and the limitations of time (as curriculum bulge), determining what pupils already know, the essential prior knowledge required, and essential new information, knowledge and understanding, may be as important than “how we teach.”

Furthermore, because working memory is most commonly used to process new information in the sense of organising, contrasting, comparing, or working on that information in some manner, pupils are probably only able to deal with two or three items of new information simultaneously. Again, I advocate that teaching less, less is absolutely more. What is more, any interactions between elements held in working memory themselves require working memory capacity, rapidly exceeding our pupils capacity to think effectively. Once more time, less is absolutely more, (unless it is more relearning).

With less and careful sequencing, teachers can assign time for repeated practice, during which frequent checks for understanding inform teaching and informative feedback, informs pupils next/repeated steps. Opportunities for successive relearning can be employed to secure learning or deter forgetting. The rungs on the ladder are closer together, if the ambition to climb high, is no less ambitious.

Step in Gemini or Chat GTP?

Why not ask Gemini or Chat GTP to define the essential prior knowledge and required knowledge for pupils to access a new topic?

But before moving onto the AI tools themselves, let’s pause to take a spoon for of medicine. What is the essential prior knowledge teachers need to know about AI tool, and what knowledge is required to would help them use AI tools more effectively?

  • ChatGPT: Created by OpenAI, excels at text generation and can answer questions cleverly, but may lack factual accuracy.
  • Gemini: Built by Google, strong in factual searches and summarizing information, but still under development.

Think of Chat-GPT & Gemini as super-powered research assistants. Second, AI tools are only as helpful as the input you provide them.

What is the required knowledge to use AI tool? Dan Fitzpatrick’s PREPARE is a great place to start.
1️⃣ Prompt: Start with a clear prompt or question.

2️⃣ Role: Give the AI a role and outline the context.

3️⃣ Explicit: Be specific in your question to avoid misunderstandings.

4️⃣ Parameters: Set clear frameworks. Use an informative tone. Keep the summary under 300 words.  Use bullet points.

Specific to education – class profile, standardise score, reading age, prior knowledge and cultural background. 

5️⃣ Ask the AI to ask you clarification questions before it continues.

6️⃣ Rate your own output – on a scale of eg 1-10, level of challenge, the need for prior knowledge of X.

7️⃣ Emotion: Add an emotional stimulus. Explain why getting this output right is important. (This appears to be able to increase quality.)

After using PREPARE a fair bit, point 5 really helps refine and improve/develop the output provided.

PREPARE input:

1️⃣ You are a secondary school English teacher. What essential knowledge do 12 year old pupils need to know about “culture and identity” to be able to engage 2️⃣ with a 25 lesson unit of work on “poetry from different cultures.” The pupils have a standardised score of 110. 3️⃣ Build your response specific to the poems: Blessing – Imtiaz Dharker, Daily London Recipe​ – Steve Turner​, Half Caste – John Agard, Limbo​ – Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Out of the Blue – Simon Armitage, Nothings Changed – Tatamkhulu Afrika. 4️⃣ Set your response as short-hand, bullet points and by each poem. Include “Poetry and Poetic Devices” must be specific to these poems only. Add a list and definitions of the essential poetic devices. 5️⃣ Ask me clarifying questions so that we are sure that pupils will be able to access this knowledge for themselves.

I did not target 6️⃣ and 7️⃣.

The outputs are below.

Two clarifying questions asked by Gemini. What is the “cultural backgrounds or experiences” common to the pupils? Which in hindsight, is clearly important. Second, Gemini asked if the pupils had tackled poetry before, which they have.

Essential Knowledge for “Poetry from Different Cultures” (25 Lessons):

Culture & Identity:

  • Concept of Culture: Understanding shared beliefs, values, traditions, language, and artefacts that shape different communities.
  • Cultural diversity: Recognising the vast spectrum of cultures existing globally and within societies.
  • Personal and Collective Identity: Exploring how individual characteristics and cultural belonging combine to shape who we are.
  • Impact of Culture on Poetry: How cultural contexts, experiences, and perspectives influence poetic themes, language, and imagery.

Specific Cultural Knowledge:

Blessing by Imtiaz Dharker:

  • Indian Traditions: Basic understanding of Muslim and Hindu customs, particularly blessings and their significance.
  • Symbolism in Indian Culture: Recognising the meaning of everyday objects like pots, rain, and strings in Indian contexts.

Daily London Recipe​ by Steve Turner:

  • Multicultural London: Awareness of London’s diverse population and its impact on society.
  • Race and Identity: Exploring themes of ethnicity, class, and belonging in a multicultural context.
  • British Slang and Dialect: Recognising informal language used in the poem to understand its tone and message.

Half Caste – John Agard:

  • Mixed-race experience: Understanding the unique challenges and perspectives of individuals with mixed ethnic backgrounds.
  • History of Racial Prejudice: Recognising the context of racism and discrimination faced by mixed-race individuals.
  • Caribbean Culture: Basic knowledge of Caribbean language, traditions, and cultural references in the poem.

Limbo​ by Edward Kamau Brathwaite:

  • African and Caribbean History: Awareness of slavery, colonialism, and their impact on cultural identity.
  • Concept of Limbo: Recognising the state of uncertainty and cultural displacement experienced by many Afro-Caribbean people.
  • African Cultural Elements: Basic understanding of rhythm, imagery, and storytelling traditions in African cultures.

Out of the Blue – Simon Armitage:

  • British Landscape: Appreciation for the natural beauty and rural life of the British countryside.
  • Themes of Mortality and Nature: Recognising how nature evokes emotions like awe, reflection, and acceptance of death.
  • Use of Metaphor and Imagery: Understanding how language paints vivid pictures and conveys deeper meaning.

Nothings Changed – Tatamkhulu Afrika:

  • South African Apartheid: Awareness of the history of racial segregation and injustice in South Africa.
  • Struggle for Freedom and Equality: Understanding the ongoing fight for justice and human rights.
  • Powerful Language and Symbolism: Recognising the use of strong imagery and metaphors to convey anger, hope, and resilience.

Essential Poetic Devices (Specific Examples):

  • Imagery: Using sensory details to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind (e.g., cracked pot in “Blessing,” hawk and wind in “Out of the Blue”).
  • Simile: Comparing two things using “like” or “as” to highlight similarities (e.g., blessing compared to cobbled street in “Blessing,” hawk compared to dark angel in “Out of the Blue”).
  • Metaphor: Directly equating two things to reveal hidden meaning (e.g., food as a metaphor for cultural mixing in “Daily London Recipe,” chains as a symbol of oppression in “Nothings Changed”).
  • Personification: Giving human qualities to non-human things (e.g., whispering street in “Blessing,” stars watching in “Out of the Blue”).
  • Symbolism: Objects, words, or actions representing more than their literal meaning (e.g., broken string in “Blessing,” wind and drums in “Nothings Changed”).
  • Repetition: Using a word or phrase multiple times for emphasis or rhythm (e.g., “Limbo” refrain in “Limbo,” “nothings changed” in “Nothings Changed”).

It is not a bad starting point.

Unlocking Poetry from Different Cultures: Essential Knowledge for Your Students

Culture and Identity:

Imagine yourself exploring a new world – filled with different customs, beliefs, and ways of life! That’s what poetry from different cultures can offer. To truly understand these poems, it’s helpful to think about:

  • Culture: It’s like a secret code that shapes how people in a community experience the world. It includes traditions, beliefs, food, languages, and even stories like the poems you’ll explore.
  • Identity: It’s like your own unique fingerprint, made up of your experiences, the places you call home, and the cultures you belong to. Understanding how poets connect their identity and culture in their poems deepens your appreciation.

Let’s explore some examples:

  • Blessing (Imtiaz Dharker): Imagine waiting for something precious, like water in a hot desert. This poem paints a picture of how important water is in some cultures, even comparing it to a prayer.
  • Daily London Recipe (Steve Turner): London is a melting pot of cultures, reflected in its amazing food scene! This poem celebrates the joy of diverse ingredients and flavours, showing how food connects people across cultures.
  • Half Caste (John Agard): Imagine feeling like you belong to two places at once, but not fully fitting in either. This poem explores the journey of someone with a mixed-race heritage, using powerful metaphors to express their feelings.
  • Limbo (Edward Kamau Brathwaite): Think about losing your home and traditions because of something outside your control. This poem reflects on the pain of displacement and cultural loss caused by colonialism in the Caribbean.
  • Out of the Blue (Simon Armitage): Armitage highlights that the poem deals with “the general theme of loss,” and the power of poetry to explore “human emotions.”
  • Nothings Changed (Tatamkhulu Afrika): Have you ever seen something unfair happening and wanted to speak up? This poem uses strong language and repetition to raise awareness of social injustice and fight for a more equal world.

Unlocking the Poem’s Secrets:

Structure: Think of it like the poem’s building blocks. Some poems have rhymes and regular patterns, like lines that end in similar sounds, while others are free verse, like flowing thoughts without set rhymes or patterns. How the poem is structured helps create its feeling and impact.

What it’s “about”: It’s not just the literal meaning, but also the deeper emotions and ideas the poet wants to share. It could be about joy, sadness, love, loss, hope, or anything that matters to people.

Language: This refers to the specific words and phrases the poet chooses. They might use simple, everyday language, or words that are more descriptive, complex, or figurative (like metaphors and similes). The poet’s word choices help create the poem’s message and mood.

Tone: This describes the overall feeling or attitude the poem conveys. Is it serious, playful, angry, hopeful, or something else? The language choices, like word sounds and sentence structure, contribute to the tone and help you understand the poet’s emotions and intentions.

Remember, the most important part is exploring and making connections! Think about how these poems relate to your own life, feelings, and experiences. Ask questions, discuss with your classmates, and enjoy the journey into the diverse world of poetry!

Note: This response avoids combining language and tone and provides simpler examples for easier understanding by 12-year-old students. I am always happy to adapt the information further based on your specific needs.

Update: 17/04/2024

Having used PREPARE for a range of purposes now, I would highly recommend including prompt 6, especially if you have more than one response or a series, eg three Socratic questions. The full post is here:

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