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How Teachers Can Use ChatGPT in the Classroom with Secondary Students

Artificial generated responses (AI generators) like ChatGPT are all the hype right now and I am here with the burning question, "How can teachers use ChatGPT in the classroom with students."

I mean, it's obviously the moment we have all been waiting for-- AI taking over the world and making it easier than ever for our students to cheat. They can copy and paste straight from ChatGPT and the best part is the response doesn't actually exist on the internet, so it won't show in a plagiarism checker. This is why we love teaching-- the ever changing universe and joys of watching children use their brain to produce work!

Okay-- a little dramatic, right? Or not. Who knows!

What I will say is back when laptops and Google entered the classrooms, many teachers were resistant about that. Now we have many 1:1 settings and use the tools in our classrooms daily. Are there still challenges presented that make it a bit of a challenge-- yes. But we make it through and adapt as needed.

I've been thinking and thinking... and thinking. How the hell can I incorporate ChatGPT into my classroom and teach students how to use it responsibly (LOL is it even possible, right?).

I am going to share with you ten ways that ChatGPT can be used in the secondary classroom (well it says high school because that's what I teach, but it'll work for middles too).

  • Brainstorming: High school students can use ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool to generate ideas for their assignments or essays. The AI can provide them with a wealth of information on various topics and help them come up with new and unique perspectives.

  • Proofreading: Students can use ChatGPT to proofread their assignments or essays for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. They can also use the AI to identify awkward sentence structures and suggest alternative phrasings.

  • Synthesizing: High school students can use ChatGPT to synthesize information from multiple sources into a coherent and cohesive essay or report. The AI can help them identify key points and arguments and synthesize them into a well-written paper.

  • Fact-checking: Students can use ChatGPT to fact-check their assignments or essays. The AI can provide them with accurate and up-to-date information on a wide range of topics, helping them avoid plagiarism by ensuring that they are citing reliable sources.

  • Paraphrasing: ChatGPT can help students paraphrase complex sentences or ideas in their own words. This can be useful for avoiding plagiarism while still incorporating important information into their assignments.

  • Research: High school students can use ChatGPT as a research tool to gather information on a particular topic. They can ask the AI specific questions and receive a wealth of information in response.

  • Creative Writing: ChatGPT can help students generate creative writing prompts or story ideas. The AI can suggest interesting scenarios, characters, and plot twists, sparking the students' imaginations and helping them come up with unique and original ideas.

  • Vocabulary Building: ChatGPT can help students improve their vocabulary by suggesting synonyms and antonyms for words they use frequently. The AI can also provide definitions and examples of usage, helping students expand their understanding of the language.

  • Essay Planning: Students can use ChatGPT to create outlines and plans for their essays or assignments. The AI can suggest key points, arguments, and supporting evidence, helping students organize their thoughts and create a well-structured essay.

  • Learning about AI: Finally, students can use ChatGPT to learn more about artificial intelligence and how it works. They can ask the AI questions about its programming and capabilities, helping them gain a deeper understanding of this exciting and rapidly developing field.

Aren't these so cool-- it took me all of 7 seconds to generate that. Can you believe it's taken me a month to figure out that I can just ask ChatGPT how high school students can use the tool?! That shows we have to use our brain to get answers from the AI generator-- so I mean, students won't be not thinking at all-- you know the whole "work smarter not harder" thing? I think that applies here.

ChatGPT obviously can be used to do some awesome brainstorming to get ideas flowing-- hence me writing this blog post and using it for a brainstorming tool since I was only coming up with dumb ass ways the kiddos can use it.

It serves as a powerful research tool to save time. Could I have went to Google and looked this up-- sure. But it would not have taken 7 seconds and generates exactly what I was looking for.

Specifically I asked ChatGPT this:

I then have the choice to keep the response it gave me or have it autogenerate a new one.

I know we have tools like Grammarly (like it love it, but man does the free version miss a lot. It can sure be sometimey).So it's interesting that ChatGPT is yet another tool students can use outside of the checking features embedded in a Google Doc or Microsoft Word document.

I decided to try it out with just one sentence out of curiosity-- I wasn't even aware that the AI could proofread, considering I'd only been asking it question.

Notice the first time I just typed a sentence with errors into the search area and it didn't correct my errors, but it started to congratulate me then gave me a warning about factoring in long term costs that come with buying luxury cars. I stopped the generator there because it wasn't what I was looking for and it haunted immediately.

The next time, I prompted the AI with more directions and added proofread and correct this sentence and it did so flawlessly, then told me why it fixed "treps."

I just paused while writing this and went back to the AI to ask it to do a little more-- I want it to improve my diction and use higher level word choice. Typically I make students head to Google and locate synonyms for lower level word choices they've made.

Well, ease your worries a bit my friends. We clearly see here if we ask for higher level diction, this creates some true robo-talk that we will hit with a red flag automatically-- we would know a student didn't write this.

So-- it does it's job-- essentially. But as we can see, it's a much more effective tool for the first response generated-- the brainstorming and research, correcting a sentence, but it was not too savvy creating a written response with a requested tone.

I mean it did it-- but we know what we were reading was not... human.

I'm going to try now asking it for something we actually do in class-- summarizing the main events from a chapter. Here was the parameters I gave it and ChatGPT's response.

Again, we can just tell a student didn't write it-- but I guess we didn't prove it. Scythe is a novel, so it should go in italics, but the generator put it in quotes-- so it does make mistakes (or maybe can't out things in italics?).

If as a teacher we were to get a response like this, it we could have to call a student over and ask them to show us where they found X, Y, or Z, ask for some opinionated info based on something in the chapter they didn't mention here (what was the vibe-- was the interaction seemingly positive or negative, what diction made you feel that way, etc), ask what the most interesting/funny/cringe part of the chapter was.

I decided to ask ChatGPT to also dumb down the writing to see if it were smart enough to do so (obviously it is, but you know, curiosity).

Again-- LOL I would know they didn't write this either, ya know? And this response opens up easy questions for students "what in the text made you decide that Scythe Curie was dope? Ask them to write "Scythe" on a sticky note in their best handwriting-- see if they spell it incorrectly as "scyth" or correctly as "Scythe."

Looks like ChatGPT is smart, the students are gonna think they're smart and sneaky, but we just have to continue to be smarter.

And by smarter, I mean getting to know our students well enough that we know their academic voice well enough to flag it as an AI generated response, yes. But also by being innovative and showing them ways they can incorporate ChatGPT into the classroom.

It's here to stay-- let's do what we do best as teachers and embrace the chaos.

If your students already know about ChatGPT, I have an activity for you. This is called "On God, I Didn't Use ChatGPT" and it walks through showing students some of the ways they can use artificial generated responses in the classroom. This is included for free with a 5 day trial to my VIP Monthly Membership-- you can join that here and get this activity + St. Patrick's Day themed fun and more for no cost.

The activity will show students:

  • How to use it for brainstorming and research

  • How to use it for proofreading

  • How to use it to find synonyms in a sentence they've already written

  • To show them they can write a better passage than ChatGPT

  • To generate 2 passages and decide which is more effective

  • How to use ChatGPT responsibly

Just remember, there's tons of ways teachers can use ChatGPT too-- and hell, make your life easier and try them out just to see if its helpful.

Consider these (off the top of my head, not from ChatGPT this time) 😂

  • lesson plans

  • writing multiple choice questions

  • letter of recommendation

  • optimized resume writing

  • report card comments

  • emails home to parents

Or, go to ChatGPT directly and ask it to give you ten ways teachers can use ChatGPT to make their life easier and see what it give ya!


Hugs, love, lots of kisses.


Ty Tiger | Kinda Sorta Teacher



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