How are AI image generators showing up in my classroom?

Can AI images be useful in my classroom? If the answer was no, then I wouldn't be writing this, so here are some of the ways they have come in handy recently. 

Describe Your Monster

It was that day on the calendar at the very end of October, when every teacher knows the lesson better be fun because the students are distracted by their costumes and hopped up on sugar too. You know the holiday I speak of.  

Monsters generated from student descriptions
I planned for a writing contest that day. The protocol is simple. I give students a prompt. They write about it for 10 minutes. Then they share their writing with their table group (six students). This takes another 10 minutes or so. The table group picks a winner and the winner from each table submits their writing to me on a Google form. I read the entries and pick a class winner. The winning table gets to leave a minute early and the winner gets a prize, usually a balloon animal. (Yes, I can make balloon animals. It's quick, fun, and cheap. Best classroom prize ever.)

On that last day in October, the prompt for this writing contest was to describe a monster. We spent some time writing, some time sharing, and each table group picked their winner, who submitted to me. Then students chose to read or catch up on work while I picked a class winner. But, my plan all along was to paste their descriptions into Ideogram and reveal the winner, not by reading their work, but by showing them their monster. 

I set up some slides to add the images too. I was only going to generate an image for the winning entry, but it was so much fun to see their writing come to life that I ended up making an image for each table winner. And, I said I would also generate images for anyone who wanted to email me their description. Several did. 

When I was ready to reveal the winner, instead of reading their entry, as I've done for past writing contests, I simply projected the image on the slide and said, "Is this your monster?" My students loved it. The winning table group always recognized the monster as the one their group mate had written. Sometimes the monsters were not depicted exactly as the description specified and we talked about why that might be the case. Some students saw the monster differently in their head and we talked about how to modify the prompt. 

Adobe Firefly

In the example above I was the one generating the images, but my students also have access to text-to-image tools like Adobe Firefly through their education Adobe Express accounts. I probably don't do enough graphic design projects with them. They did recently get to make an infographic though, and several used AI generated images for those. Many used AI enabled tools like removing the background. Just playing with text to image has become the new fun thing to do when they are done with other work. 

Adding Images to My Lessons

All teachers know that pictures make content more memorable and accessible for most of our students. But, finding just the right image to support a lesson is sometimes a time consuming challenge. Okay, getting an AI tool to generate an image that feels just right to the lesson can also be time consuming, but I feel a little more confident that I will eventually get to a picture that works as I refine my prompt. Plus I can suggest colors that match my Canvas course design palette. 

When I needed an image to support an assignment about writing a letter to someone who shaped their identity, it made sense to generate an image of a teen with lots of people standing behind them. 

While I acknowledge the valid frustrations of human artists whose work has been utilized in training AI image models, and I recognize the legitimate anxieties about the impact of generative AI artwork on their livelihoods, I firmly believe that it's crucial for our students to gain knowledge and experience with these tools. Image generators are not going away. They can improve our lessons and student learning. Also, they are very fun to play with. I encourage teachers to give these a try and show them to your students. 


  1. This is a helpful example of how AI might be used within a teaching setting. You might also consider modeling for your students how to cite your source for the artwork, so there is no confusion as to who or what created it.


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