Chat GPT Tips for Teachers!
I got to admit, when I pictured the robots 🤖 coming, I didn't think they'd be here to do our students' homework and write their essays, but that day has arrived! Many schools and districts around the country have already put the site behind a firewall but trust me, the cat is out of the bag and its not going back in!
I do not think that is the right call and I think we must get ahead of this instead of trying to ineffectually sweep it under the rug. So, I wanted to write a little article about how teachers can use Chat GPT in the classroom.
So, if you don't know, CHATGPT is an AI software (currently free to use though that might change soon) that can do a ton of writing tasks when given commands. Students can use chatgpt to ask questions and receive answers or to generate entire written assignments based on any prompt.
I actually just had it write out a screen play for President Washington meeting with his cabinet to discuss the constitutionality of the Bank except it was a Seinfeld episode and it was pretty funny while still having Jefferson opposed to the Bank, Washington neutral at first, and Hamilton in support. (Jefferson, as Kramer wanted to use a cardboard box with some gold coins instead of a national bank 🤣).
But seriously, this has many teachers (and tons of other professions) freaking out.
Is it the end of homework? The takehome essay? Critical thinking?
It can actually be a powerful tool and though we are all still just figuring out exactly what this is and how we can use it, I would like to offer some suggestions on how you can respond to this new tool in a way to will help you and help your students as well!
Here are seven ideas for how you can respond to chatgpt in your classrooms:
- If you have students that struggle with primary or even secondary texts, use chatGPT to modify documents into different reading levels. Simply copying and pasting a primary or secondary source into chatgpt, you can quickly and easily generate a version of the text that is simpler or more complex, depending on the needs of your students. It can also translate it into any language. This can save you time as a teacher and help ensure that all of your students are able to succeed in your class. I like to create two columns, on the left is the original document so students can still read the original text and to the right is the modified one. The program can also create original questions for students to respond to as well and I was actually very impressed with the comprehension and critical thinking questions it developed. It can even create project ideas around the text.
Ensure you spend time in class teaching why history matters and how it can be helpful to them as individuals. If students know that learning history can empower them to be better people, can inspire them to change and improve the world, that it connects them to their culture, community, country, and their global family- they will understand the inherent value in learning history and not just having a bot do all their thinking. I have two lessons linked below designed to get students to really understand the importance of history that you may like.
Use it to generate project ideas for topics if you are feeling stuck. This is a great way for teachers to use Chat GPT. I recently typed, "create 5 project ideas for World War II for high school students that has them apply lessons from the war to modern issues" and it each suggestion was creative and impressive. One had students consider the impacts of the Nurremberg Trials and apply them to recent genocides, a project called, "The Power of Words: Analyzing the Rhetoric of World War II and Modern Propaganda", and a project called "Resisting Oppression: Then and Now: on how you can learn from groups like the White Rose who resisted oppression to make change in the world today. I then asked it to create a break down of expectations, learner outcomes, and a general rubric and bang.
- Don't try to hide this tool from students- the cat is out of the bag and its never going back in. Instead, teach students about the limitations of chatgpt and other AI tools. Chatgpt is just one source and it is very limited. It is important for students to understand these limitations and to use their own judgment when evaluating the information they receive. How can they trust it and rely on it to be accurate? This could lead to a great discussion.
Use chatgpt in a history lab activity. ChatGPT can give you one answer to an inquiry question like "Why did the colonies rebel against Britain and declare independence?" Set up a lab with other documents at different stations. Other docs could be a textbook excerpt, and a couple primary sources. This way they see how they still need to corraborate evidence and critique the sources they come across. Evaluating evidence is more important than ever- so make sure history labs or inquiry lessons are a routine part of class so students learn to be critical consumers of media and not blindly following where demagogues, google searches, or bots lead them. In this episode of the History Teachers Club podcast we talked all about history labs if want to learn more.
If you are worried that students will still use ChatGPT to write their essays or do much of the thinking then have students turn in a video reflection with each essay. Not only does it keep them more accountable, but it also helps students build more skills in your class. On Google Classroom or Canvas, students submit their written essay and a 45-90 second video response. I started doing this during Covid distance learning and mandated students do not read their response, but must be clearly explaining things like: what is their thesis, strongest evidence, what did the essay teach them about X topic, and how do they think they did on the essay. It keeps them accountable and helps them work on speaking clearly and professionally in a quick presentation. These also could be done live in class if you wanted. Have students question one another or give feedback to make it even more powerful.
- Use it create fictional role-plays that students act out based on historical topics. You can have students modify or elaborate onto the suggested screen play based on a reading, lecture, or lesson you taught. Having the AI write the screenplay of course takes away from student ownership of the material however, it can give them a great starting point that they then improve or extend which can help the critical thinking process. Then if they act it out they are committing it to memory better.
I hope these ideas are helpful as you navigate the use of chatgpt in the classroom. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need any additional support.
And for more ideas, please check out the amazing stuff that John Spencer has been producing on the topic.
Thank gosh for all of us that John Spencer shares his wisdom and insights.
Onward to history,
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