Dear Students of Montana, 

I taught writing in Montana for years. I taught poetry to 3rd graders. I tutored high school students as they prepared for ACT and SAT exams. And I taught composition and creative writing at the college level. I've read a lot of student essays. 

Essays can follow a formula. In their most basic form, you have an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. When I tried to teach this structure, I used to make up silly examples for my students. I talked about agriculture in Sweden and referenced paragraphs about cows, pigs, and sheep as specific examples of a larger thesis statement. Hypothetical essays about Swedish agriculture almost always made my students giggle (or at a minimum, scoff), but it was a reliable example to convey the importance of writing cohesively.  

Even though there’s a formula, I told them, how you use it is unique to you.  

I've spent hours teaching, reading, and grading essays. At the college level, part of that process is also looking for plagiarism or other forms of cheating because unfortunately, it happens. However, I am relieved to share that Montana, according to one source, is the most academically honest state in the country. 

The writers at EssayPro analyzed Google data to see how often students were looking for tools like ChatGPT to write essays.  

Now let me say I think that tools like ChatGPT can be helpful to the writing process if they’re used for idea generation, but it crosses a line in my book if you ask ChatGPT to write an essay on your behalf, especially in an educational setting.  

READ MORE: Montanans Among Smartest in the Nation

Teachers have had to come up with creative ways to catch students who use AI to write their essays, and there are some clever ways they do this. I saw a video about a teacher who put hidden words in their assignments using white text so that when the student copied that assignment into an AI program, the program would publish those hidden words in the essay. Then, all the teacher had to do was look for the hidden words and if they found them, they would know the essay was created using AI. 

Writing is hard. However, I am encouraged to know that Montana's students are the least likely to take shortcuts. It gives me hope that the hours I spent teaching students how to write an essay benefited them. Maybe it helped them get into college. Maybe it helped them write a cover letter for a new job. We may see more AI In writing as technology advances, but for now, I'm encouraged that most student writers in Montana are still doing it the human way. 


A Former Writing Teacher

P.S. Inevitably someone will say this letter would have been written better if AI had done it. That may be true, but my writing has also been inaccurately identified as being penned by AI so is there any winning?

The Most Interesting Places In Montana You Need To Visit

Weird things to do in Montana - no problem if you want to see a few things that most tourists miss. We've got some ideas for fun things to do, many of which are free. Have you ever been to pig races? You can do that in Montana...

Gallery Credit: mwolfe

THE LIST: Where To Find Montana's Best Nachos

Gallery Credit: mwolfe

More From Z100 Classic Rock