It's been a minute, so I have decided to update this blog post. I'll leave a link to the original post below but I have been asked to review a brand new piece of software; add an 'at-a-glance' section; and I have my own opinions on how AI can help alleviate some of the grind of report writing.
- Lots of variety in comments and subjects
- Ability to alter pronouns
- It isn’t free
- The comments don’t flow well together, so there is still some work to be done
- The formatting of some comments is a little off (missing spaces between words)
School Report Writer (4/5):
- You can generate entire paragraphs
- The editing process is completed with a few clicks
- It’s free
- You have to search for and import the comment banks
- I encountered one spelling mistake and a missing hyphen.
The Report Comments Bank (3/5):
- Clean, uncluttered user-interface
- Ability to label different reports
- I could only find Secondary curriculum comments
- Lack of cohesion between comments
Teachers Report Writer (3/5):
The latest report writer I was asked to review can be found over at teachers.report. Head over there and you will be greeted with an explanatory video and a very simple user interface. You can add up to 20 classes, including directly from Google Classroom, which is a nice touch. When I tried it out, I couldn't find a way of adding multiple children easily (via a CSV file, for example) but that might be something I missed. If it is not an option, then adding 30 names will be a bit of a chore.
When you go on to create the reports, it is a fairly straightforward affair but it's not the most obvious. The learning curve isn't steep though but I recommend investing some time clicking on the question marks until you are familiar with how the system works. You add your own subjects and enter a brief summary of the child's achievements and click on GENERATE.
After a few moments (about a minute in my experience but bear in mind that bandwidth and WIFI connectivity will be a factor), you get a report that reads fairly well:
Next, I gave minimal information and made a deliberate mistake. For 'Lucy', I wrote he was working at the expected level, but clicked on the female gender option (extra points for having a gender neutral option though, well done there!). As you can see below, the result was a mix of gender pronouns:
Not a massive deal, all these report writers will need proof-reading at some point, but still a bit of a let down.
Finally, we have to talk pricing structure. The website works on a credit system which, I am assured, never expire. For this reason, they are also non-refundable so, if you've used Teachers Report writer once, you're kind of cash-bound to use it again. The credits aren't expensive; $5 will get you 250, which is more than enough for a class of 30 children (three reports - English, Maths, General behaviour - at two credits each, multiplied by 30 comes to 180. That leaves with with 70 credits, which is enough to generate another whole class set of English and Maths and ten for General behaviour), so it's not bad value.
There is also a payment option that gives you essentially 5 for 4 (1250 credits for $20), and there are whole-school deals as well although those are on request only.
Minimal input for acceptable output
Integrates with Google Classroom
You have to pay for it
You still have to write a minimal report (only one line though), and the generation time will add up
Teachers.report is a report writer with a user-friendly interface and an explanatory video. It can import up to 20 classes from Google Classroom, but adding multiple children is not easy. Creating reports is straightforward, but users should spend time understanding the system. Reports are generated in a minute and read well. The website works on a credit system that is non-refundable, and $5 gives 250 credits. There are payment options for 1250 credits, and whole-school deals are available on request.
Now, in the interests of impartiality, I also gave everybody's new best friend, ChatGPT, a go.
For those of you who have been under a rock for the last few months (or, perhaps under a rock-shaped mountain of marking and prep work), ChatGPT is a large language model trained by OpenAI, based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, capable of conversing on various topics in natural language. Basically, it's a really smart computer program that can talk to people like a human and answer questions about many different things.
It not perfect though and you do have to teach it a few things first if you want to get the best out of it. Fortunately, it can read. Well, it can access the internet and use that to help with its received commands.
Here is what I told it to do:
write a 100-word report for Emily, who is working at the expected level for year 6 maths
Here is what it returned:
Emily is a year 6 student who is performing at the expected level in maths. She has a good understanding of the key topics covered in the national curriculum, including multiplication and division of numbers up to 4 digits, as well as interpreting remainders and solving multi-step problems. Emily is confident with mental calculations, and she can identify common factors, multiples, and prime numbers. She is also familiar with the order of operations when carrying out calculations. Overall, Emily is a capable and diligent student who is meeting the expectations for year 6 maths. With continued effort and practice, she has the potential to excel in this subject.
Not perfect but not bad. After requesting a rewrite and telling ChatGPT that we don't need to be told that Emily is in Year 6 (literally: Rewrite this; we don't need to know that EMily is a year 6 student), I got this:
At the expected level for year 6 maths, Emily demonstrates a strong grasp of the key topics in the national curriculum, including multiplication and division of numbers up to 4 digits, interpreting remainders, and solving multi-step problems. She is confident with mental calculations, identifying common factors, multiples, and prime numbers, and the order of operations for calculations. Her diligence and capabilities make her a promising student with potential for further progress in maths with continued effort and practice.
And it took seconds. And a ChatGPT account is free (for now). What's more, you can group your students and ask ChatGPt to write a report for each of them based on very minimal input, as shown below:
I'm not going to list the pros and cons for this, nor am I going to rate it out of 5 because it's not a dedicated report writer; however, I feel it would be remiss of me to not mention it.
Not to be outdone, I also asked Google's AI, Bard for a report. Here's what happened:
That's not bad. Plus, Bard gives you the option to look at other drafts, the second was even better:
Unfortunately, Bard is not yet available to the public and, when it does get a full release, it'll be a paid-for service; but it's looking good.
Obviously, there are tweaks that would need to be made if you wanted to make the reports 100% individual but, in a world where AI can access the national curriculum and write a very good report, are report writing websites becoming a thing of the past?
To read the original post, click here. To read my opinions on the SATs, click here. If I've saved you a bit of time or money, and you'd like to buy me a peppermint mocha, click here. Otherwise, thanks for reading and I'm very excited to speak to you about a certain hungry caterpillar and his links with Taoism... but that's next week's post.
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