4 ChatGPT Lesson Plan Activities for Teachers

4 ChatGPT Lesson Plan Activities for Teachers
The Editorial Team November 17, 2023

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ChatGPT is one of the most popular generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools on the internet. However, its ability to generate text on virtually any topic has made some teachers worry students may try using it to cheat or plagiarize their assignments. While these are real concerns, ChatGPT can be a practical classroom aid when used creatively. Here are a few ways to incorporate ChatGPT into your classroom activities and lesson planning to enhance student engagement and save time. 

Lesson plan ideas using ChatGPT as an educational tool

Technology has sometimes been viewed as a distraction in the classroom, but research shows incorporating digital learning tools into your daily lessons can be beneficial. It creates a more interactive, engaging classroom environment, allowing students to put their knowledge into action, sharpen critical thinking skills, and communicate more effectively with peers. 

If these are benefits you wish to embrace, planning activities encouraging ChatGPT use may pique your students’ interest and increase classroom productivity. Here are a few activities to consider. 

Conduct a research exercise

ChatGPT seems like an all-knowing tool, but its expertise is limited to the knowledge it’s been given. A major drawback of generative AI tools is they sometimes pull incorrect or outdated information from web sources, and if they can’t find a source at all, they may simply make something up, which is called a “hallucination.” 

Teach your students about ChatGPT’s limitations by assigning them a research question. Ask them to pull sources from multiple places, like Google, your school’s library database, and ChatGPT. Once they’ve compiled information, they can compare ChatGPT’s response to other sources and experience ChatGPT’s flaws firsthand. This can be a good lesson on distinguishing reliable from unreliable information.

Revise essay drafts

ChatGPT shouldn’t be used to generate an essay’s first draft, but it can be a helpful revision tool to catch grammatical errors, rework clunky sentences, and receive feedback on flow or organization. Ask students to bring a completed rough draft to class, and give them a copy of the assignment’s rubric.

They can revise their drafts using ChatGPT by asking for specific feedback aligning with the rubric. For example, they may ask ChatGPT to check a paragraph for grammatical errors, if that’s an aspect of writing they’re being graded on. The chatbot will rewrite the paragraph using correct grammar, and your students can see what they did wrong and how to use grammar correctly in future assignments. 

Create vocabulary lists

If you’re teaching students English vocabulary, use ChatGPT to create a hands-on activity. Give students a category such as colors or sports, and ask them to brainstorm as many words as they can before prompting ChatGPT to generate a list. You can award points for each word a student wrote down that ChatGPT also generated. 

Additionally, ChatGPT can teach students definitions for subject-specific terminology. Provide students with a vocabulary list, and ask them to define each word. They can then prompt ChatGPT to generate definitions and receive a point for each one they got correct. This activity can illuminate which concepts need further studying. 

Generate essay or project topics

For a final project or paper, leave the assignment open-ended, and encourage students to brainstorm topic ideas. They can ask ChatGPT for topic suggestions based on specific subjects or books and for innovative project ideas if they don’t want to write an essay.

Have them compile 3 to 5 topics or project ideas and write a short proposal detailing how they would approach each one. You may see student investment and productivity increase when they have more control over their assignments.

How teachers can use ChatGPT for lesson planning

Most teachers spend about 5 hours per week planning pre-instruction activities for their classrooms. ChatGPT can potentially reduce how much time you spend on lesson planning and help you develop more creative activities to engage students. Consider these tasks ChatGPT can assist with:

  • Generate lesson plan ideas: Ask ChatGPT to formulate a lesson plan for a specific topic and grade level when you’re short on time or out of creative ideas. For example, you may prompt the chatbox to “Create a writing assignment for [insert book] in an eighth-grade classroom.” 
  • Translate assignments: ChatGPT can translate assignments into a student’s native language to help them better understand instructions when English isn’t their first language. Simply copy and paste the English text into the chatbox and ask the tool to translate it into the other language. You can then transfer the new text to a document for the student. 
  • Simplify language: If you have an assignment idea but aren’t sure how to simplify the language to a lower grade level, ask ChatGPT to do it for you. Provide the text in the chatbox, and prompt ChatGPT to rewrite it at the desired reading level. Copy and paste the new text into a document, and alter it as needed, for student access. 
  • Develop grading rubrics: You can also use ChatGPT to help develop grading rubrics based on assignment sheets. Be specific about what you want ChatGPT to include. For example, a prompt you may use is, “Create a rubric for [insert assignment]. It should include sections for structure, organizational flow, grammar, sources, etc. Each section is worth [insert points].”
  • Find innovative project ideas: Instead of recycling generic assignments, such as essays or PowerPoint presentations, ask ChatGPT for innovative project ideas based on specific topics or subjects. You can develop a single assignment surrounding one idea or a list of ideas students can choose from. 

Privacy concerns of using ChatGPT

Despite ChatGPT’s usefulness in the classroom, many schools and colleges have banned its use for various reasons, including plagiarism and privacy concerns. ChatGPT collects personal information like traditional internet browsers do. It gathers information based on what you enter into the chatbox and what it identifies from your device or browser, such as your location and IP address. 

Asking ChatGPT to generate a lesson plan or project idea is relatively harmless, but entering a document with sensitive data, like a student’s name or contact information, can be troublesome. Every time a piece of information is shared with ChatGPT, it becomes part of the tool’s data bank, risking public exposure. ChatGPT may also share that information with unspecified third parties to meet its business operations without your knowledge or explicit consent.

Now, this doesn’t mean ChatGPT is inherently dangerous. If you avoid putting personal or sensitive information in your prompts, you decrease your risk of accidentally sharing confidential data with a cybercriminal. You may also want to check your institute’s AI policy before generating lesson plans or activities to avoid any repercussions. 

ChatGPT should be used cautiously when sensitive student or institutional information is involved. However, if you take measures to protect confidential data, ChatGPT can be useful in generating unique educational activities and reducing the time you spend lesson planning, which can enhance your classroom’s overall function and productivity.

To read more helpful tips for ChatGPT, check out our ChatGPT for Teachers Guide.

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