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¡Cuidado, NYT Games app! There’s some friendly competition coming from Milton.

Harnessing emerging artificial intelligence tools and his self-taught coding skills, Milton Academy faculty member Mark Connolly has developed a suite of games to help students sharpen their language learning and have fun. 

Mark, who teaches Spanish in the Modern Languages Department, created several word games inspired by the New York Times’ popular Spelling Bee and Connections games. “La abeja astuta” challenges users to assemble Spanish vocabulary words from seven available letters, while “Conexiones” offers a jumble of words that connect to one another in groups of four. These games, along with others Mark created, are available on Milton’s Spanish-language site, La Voz. 

“Students have responded enthusiastically to these games,” Mark says. “For some, the competitive part lowers pressure and keeps them interested for longer. For others, the code itself helps them see connections in Spanish that they might have missed. Students from levels 1 through 4 have helped me refine and rework the games.” 

In exploring available AI tools and learning HTML to code, Mark sees a critical intersection of academic disciplines, explaining: “Ultimately, computer code and human expression are languages with syntax, style and expression in common. Much as we want to divide the studies, they grow from the same roots and support the same branches.”

Mark used ChatGPT, a AI chatbot and virtual assistant developed by OpenAI, to write the HTML code supporting the more than 100 games he’s created over the past year. The questions and answers for different games and quizzes complement the school’s Spanish curriculum. 

In addition to his work as a Spanish teacher and member of the Faculty Council, Mark serves as one of Milton’s two instructional technologists—faculty members who assist colleagues and students in using technological tools to enhance teaching and learning. They supported colleagues through the remote- and hybrid-learning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now exploring the future of AI in education.  

Milton’s thoughtful and talented faculty members are continually exploring innovative ways to enhance and deliver the school’s outstanding, rigorous academic program. While the school’s curriculum has a strong foundation in research-supported best practices, emerging tools, like AI and game design, can help support the inspiring learning happening on campus!

¿Hablas español? Check out “La abeja astuta” and “Conexiones” to test and stretch your vocabulary, and visit La Voz to play other games and see the exciting work happening in Milton’s Spanish program!