Together with their teachers, students can use AI tools to develop an action plan for a passion project.

Example Prompts

-Before sitting side-by-side in front of an AI platform, first ask the student what they want to create, make, or do. If you ask them what they want to learn, students often default to traditional learning activities, such as reading. Asking what they want to create, make, or do has multiple benefits: (1) It engages their imagination and brings out their intrinsic interests. (2) It often results in them developing a competency, gaining actionable knowledge and skills. (3) It often results in activities and/or a product that can serve as evidence of learning.

-Work with the student to create a prompt that describes who they are as a learner; explains what they want to create, make, or do; and asks for a plan to guide them.

-Include in the prompt a timeframe for the project and how much time the student has to work on it daily.

-Prompt the AI to provide the plan broken down into day-by-day activities which are easier for youth to understand and use compared to the week-by-week lists that AI tools typically produce.

Designing and Building a Skateboard Park.

>I am a 9th grader in a high school in Los Angeles. I am really into skateboarding. And I have been thinking about designing a skateboard park. I am also interested in designing and building my own skateboards. I want to design a skateboard park with some really cool ramps and designs with varying of difficulty. A part of it could be for new/novice skateboarders, for like 5 & 6 year olds. And eventually, there is an unused park down the street I would like to propose the city council and public works department to actually build this design. I also have an idea of creating skateboard days and events. And a way to bring the community together. Provide me with a 3-month plan where I could pursue the design of my skateboard, access others and potential mentors in developing the design as well as any online resources and platforms in the design of skateboard parks and skateboards. And how I might start talking with people in my community about their interest in having a skateboard park in the community to build community. Create a 3-month plan on how I could pursue all of this.

Designing and Building a Tiny Home.

>I am a 12th grader who lives in Warrenton NC. I want to build a tiny home to sell. I have 2 months to do this. To learn how to build a tiny home, get the resources (if possible for free), and actually build and sell it. Provide me with a plan to do this in 2 months.

Designing and Building a Drone.

>Create a month long plan where I design and build a drone

Designing and Building a Greenhouse.

>I am a 5th grader. I am really interested in gardening and growing my own vegetables. I want to learn how to grow vegetables in a green house. I am also interested in how to design and build a green house. My friends and I want to design and build a greenhouse in the back of our school. And then grow vegetables for families in need. My teacher says we can spend an hour a day working on this project. Provide me with a 2 month plan on how to design and build a greenhouse and then actually procure the materials through donations and build it and start growing vegetables to give away at the end of the 2 months.

Creating a Community Garden at my School.

>I am a 9th grade young woman in my high school and I have 2 months to design and build a community garden for my high school. Provide me with a plan for doing that engaging a dozen other students and reaching out to other organizations and community members to help design and build it.

Building a DIY PH-Sensor.

>How could I go about building a ph sensor that I could use in my local waterways?

Producing a Graphic Novel about Global Women Leaders.

>I want to create a graphic novel that spotlights the fact that global leadership is not only a male thing. And I want to show how women leaders can make a difference in the world.

Create a Music Studio in Hartford CT.

>I am a 10th grader at Greater Hartford Academy for the Arts. I am really into all types of arts, theater, music. I want to create a space for young musicians to experiment and learn from each other. It's a studio in the high school. And then I want to figure out a way where we – as students – could produce and sell music on a variety of platforms. Create a 2 month plan for me to do this.

Starting My Own Teen Zine Company.

>I am a 10th grader at Gibson Ek High School in Issaquah. I am really into the outdoors. I am into bugs. I make zines. Things I like to make zines around are ability, gender, equity. I have 2 months and I have 3 days a week to work on a project. What I want to do is start my own teen zine publishing company. Create a plan where I can do this accessing national and local platforms, experts, and mentors to help start this company. And I want to be sure to get 5 teen authors on board and have at least drafted the 1st 5 products.

Example Followup Prompts

-Followup with prompts that connect the project to grade-level standards or any other traditional expectations of learning, which will help you and the student see the connections between the project and those expectations.
-Asking for the output in table format is a great "trick" to generate usable output from AI platforms!

>Provide me with this plan in a table format with the day-to-day activities in the left-hand column, the goals of the activity in the 2nd column, the Xth grade ELA common core standards I would address in the 3rd column, and the Xth grade social studies (or civics) expectations in the 4th column.

-Follow up with prompts to include evidence of learning, where the evidence of learning is itself student-centered. Traditional standards don't only need to be assessed through a test or written paper. The AI can provide information that helps you demonstrate how evidence can exist in the final product, artifacts, and self-reflection of engaging, student co-designed passion projects.
-Use prompts like this to help others in your school community to easily recognize and acknowledge the student's learning and avoid questions about the "rigor" of "fun" projects.

>Provide me with a portfolio where I can collect and curate evidence of my learning. Provide me with a script and slidedeck for a 20-minute presentation of learning I could give to my peers, teachers, and family.

-If students get stuck on an activity after they start using their plan, they can return to the tool to get more detailed and specific directions, copying the activity from their original AI-produced plan and pasting it into the prompt.

>Tell me how to do [an activity].

Try It

Invite a student to test this approach with you. Practice with different AI tools and adjust the prompts to produce output that your students will be able to use to guide their learning. 

Make sure that students choose to create, make, or do something that matters to them. Without intrinsic interest in the activity, students may zone out and go through the motions, as they may do in most classrooms when they are asked to learn something they don’t care much about.

Aim for projects where the outcome of students' work is real, to them and to others. When the product mirrors what others in the world actually do, the students are developing the competency to create, make, and do such things themselves.

This toolkit was developed in partnership with Chris Unger, who retains the copyright to the intellectual content provided here.

Photo at top courtesy of Northern Cass School District.