How Teachers Save Time with ChatGPT

Chelsea Penney
June 2, 2023

Proximity Learning provides regular professional development to its teachers to help them utilize technology effectively and engage their tech-savvy students in the classroom. Over the last few months, our professional development experts, Katie Oliver and Kate Schartel Novak, have hosted sessions aimed at encouraging teachers to experiment with AI technology in their classrooms. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already prevalent in our lives, from route suggestions in Google Maps to proofreading our documents with Grammarly to video recommendations from Netflix. However, AI has been featured in headlines recently due to the release of ChatGPT. 

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI tool that uses natural language processing techniques to respond to user-generated prompts. Simply, you submit a question and it provides an answer. It is trained by humans who input several scenarios of how that conversation would naturally proceed. From there, it analyzes the information it’s given and provides a response. 

New software like ChatGPT sounds intimidating until you realize that you’re already using AI for convenience in your life, and it can translate to the classroom. 

Understanding the limitations of AI

ChatGPT is still new. The software is ever-evolving, so the limitations mentioned in this article may be short-lived. 

The program is always collecting data, so be careful not to share sensitive information with it. It is also biased and can make statements that aren’t factual. Be sure to look for reliable sources that substantiate claims. Lastly, it can be unavailable due to high-use capacity. If there are too many people using the tool, you may not be able to get your answer. 

ChatGPT was trained through 2021, so it may not know current information unless you feed it updates within your question. (It can’t keep up with your students’ trends and interests as well as you can.) It also cannot visit links or search the internet. 

ChatGPT outputs plain text, so it can’t generate images or a slide deck. (However, there are other AI tools that can. Read on!) It does not remember previous conversations, so each time you may need to add information to get the response you’re looking for. Although they exist, plagiarism detectors are still too new and inaccurate to be relied on in assessing student work. 

ChatGPT cannot understand the nuances of teaching creatively and aiding social-emotional development, so don’t worry. Teachers are irreplaceable!

How can ChatGPT save teachers time?

For starters, students should not use ChatGPT in the classroom because they are not old enough to consent to the terms of agreement. This is a tool that can be leveraged by teachers for lesson planning, project ideas, and discussion prompts.

Enhance your instructional practices with specific prompts to aid your teaching objectives

Ideation: Generate writing prompts, examples, assessment questions, discussion questions, bell ringers, project options, high & low-quality writing samples, feedback ideas, and resources to explore

Modify text: Generate summaries, rewrite text at different lexile levels, rewrite text for a different audience

Lesson planning ideas: Learning objectives, essential questions, plan/script, leading questions, assignment ideas, project outlines

Other ideas: Revise writing to improve grammar or tone, simplify or improve an explanation, draft emails, break down a process, translate text into different languages, create tables, keyboard shortcuts, remix work, tech tips

prompt engineering - general prompts can be redefined with product, tone, context, and specificity

Refining your prompts

To generate the best response, ChatGPT needs a thorough prompt. Here’s how to build a winning cue:

Include audience description and context like “7th-grade science students with short attention spans”

Add conditions that make it more specific such as “simple vocabulary,” “short sentences,” and “challenging questions”

Add adjectives to create the proper tone and voice like “inspiring tone”  or “professional voice”

Prompt examples

Create a lesson plan by asking for the elements you need and including all relevant information.

“I would like an interactive virtual lesson plan for a group of [grade level] students with limited access to their own devices and overall disengagement. Include learning objectives, assignments, and leading questions. Please take into account the following information: [subject/topic], [lesson length], [class size], [technology available], [previous knowledge on the subject], [student interests and preferences], and [available teaching resources].”

Generate engaging questions by sharing the specific audience and topic.

“I want a set of problems I can use during a lesson on prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. These questions should be written for a group of 10th graders. I want questions that will be interesting and engaging, utilizing higher levels of blooms. I need ideas that would be appropriate for students learning virtually. Additionally, I need at least two ideas for ways I could scaffold these questions to support English Language Learners.”

How can you use ChatGPT to rethink teaching and learning?

Generate a low- or mid-level thesis statement and have students improve it. They won’t feel bad correcting a computer.

Help students understand when they can use AI in the future, how to create a strong prompt, and compare/contrast outputs.

Have students fact-check ChatGPT by finding primary sources to back up its statements.

Other AI tools for teachers

Perplexity is similar to ChatGPT but sites sources. 

Concensus is a search engine that uses AI to extract info from peer-reviewed sources.

Curipod creates an interactive slide deck based on your topic, grade, objectives, and standards. transforms text into visually appealing slides

Education Copilot has tools specifically for educators to help with lesson planning and content creation.

Yippity converts any website or text into a quiz.

Don’t be scared, teachers! Embracing technology can make your job easier.

about the author
Chelsea Penney

Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver and her Masters of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University Commerce. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline as Content Marketing Manager for Proximity Learning.

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