By now, you’ve probably heard of the new AI (artificial intelligence) program called ChatGPT. Like any new technology, there are both positives and negatives associated with it ( “industrious” students using it to write papers). Still, there is no doubt that ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for teachers. Today I am sharing 11 ways teachers can use AI to save time and increase productivity.
But first, let’s take a look at what ChatGPT is . . .
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a chatbot that’s specifically designed to generate human-like text responses. The full name is Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. Like all chatbots, it relies on AI assistance. This means it uses artificial intelligence to create responses. What’s cool about this model is that it is designed to support a wide range of natural language processing tasks, such as answering questions, generating creative writing, and even engaging in conversations.
How is it different from other AI bots?
What makes ChatGPT different from other less sophisticated chatbots is its ability to carry on a conversation. It remembers the series of questions and prompts you ask it within a single conversation thread and uses those as context to formulate its next response.
The more related questions you ask, the better the answers become. As your questions become more specific, the bot can refine its responses to give you exactly the answer you are looking for.
How does it work?
When you ask ChatGPT a question, it searches the web to find an answer. This means it mines all of the information on the internet and gives you a summary of the most relevant content. Because ChatGPT was trained on a massive amount of data, it has a deep understanding of how language is used and can give you simple answers that are easy to read and understand. In short, the answers make sense.
What are the limitations of ChatGPT?
Of course, all chatbots have limitations. Although I’m confident that ChatGPT can save you valuable time and increase productivity, it’s important to be aware of its constraints.
ChatGPT scours the web for information and summarizes what it finds in one answer. But it does not cite its sources. So you do not know where it is pulling its information from. This means there is the potential for misinformation and bias in the responses provided. You should always review responses carefully and verify any suspect information.
There are obviously copyright and plagiarism issues involved with ChatGPT. Since the bot does not identify its sources, it’s impossible to know if the text it’s generating to answer your question was written by someone else. Be careful when using ChatGPT text.
Potential for cheating
As mentioned above, some students have already figured out how to use ChatGPT to generate research papers and other assignments. This type of shortcut is not limited to students but is available to anyone who creates original work. Figuring out what role AI should play in generating content is something that will need to be determined.
Currently, ChatGPT is free to use. And it is very popular. There are certain times of day when the servers are at capacity, and you cannot access the bot. It can be frustrating to try and get on ChatGPT and not be able to use it, especially if you had planned on completing tasks during your planning time.
I have found the busiest time to be between 10 am and 2 pm ET. Usually, I can access the program early in the morning or later in the afternoon. But I recommend you plan ahead and not count on ChatGPT to create a response at the last minute.
A paid option–ChatGPT Plus–is also available. This could reduce the amount of traffic on the free site. But it could also impose limitations on what you can do with the free program. Only time will tell.
What can you do with ChatGPT?
You can use ChatGPT in a variety of helpful, time-saving ways. It can
- Generate text: ChatGPT can write almost everything from texts and tweets to lists and letters to emails and essays, and everything in between.
- Reword inputs: This is one of my favorite features. If you have written something but aren’t sure about the tone or the wording, ChatGPT can rewrite it for you in the proper tone or offer you alternate ways of saying something.
- Summarize: ChatGPT can understand and synthesize large amounts of information and condense it into one easy-to-understand summary.
- Translate: ChatGPT can translate words and phrases into different languages.
- Research: ChatGPT is also an effective research tool. It understands requests and questions better than traditional search engines and provides personalized results.
11 ways teachers can use AI to save time and increase productivity
So how can teachers use AI to save time and increase productivity? There are endless ways! But here are 11 ideas to get you started.
One great way to save time over the school year and your career is to create templates for things you find yourself repeatedly doing.
For instance, if you have a template for emails you repeatedly send to parents about things like early release days, classroom parties, volunteers, or classroom supplies, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. You can just pull up your template and fill in the details.
A template is also great if you send weekly or monthly newsletters.
ChatGPT can save you even more time by creating the template for you. Check out this template ChatGPT created for me in about thirty seconds. Simply copy and paste into your Google Doc and update it each week.
Query: Create a template for a third grade newsletter from Mrs. Sears, including a weekly calendar, upcoming tests, homework assignments, special events, cafeteria menu, student birthdays, weekly helper
Of course, you might want to tweak this with photos or graphics, but most of the work was done for you in seconds without any formatting.
2. Report card comments:
ChatGPT can save tons of time when writing report card comments. And often, because there is no relationship between the bot and the student, these comments will sound more professional and less emotional than if you tried to write them yourself.
Query: Write a report card comment for a student who is very intelligent but disorganized and often forgets to complete and turn in work.
ChatGPT is great for generating lists. You can use it to gather a list of books, videos, or potential field trip destinations.
Query: “Make a list of books about scientists.”
Query 2: “for third graders”
The cool thing about ChatGPT is that it remembers our previous queries. So in the example above, my first task was to create a list of books about scientists. This gave me a list of biographies for adults. So I added a new task, “for third graders,” to refine the list. I did not have to start from scratch. It remembered that I was interested in books about scientists.
Of course, you will want to review the list to make sure that all the items are appropriate. I often request double the number of things I need to be selective.
FYI: You can use this feature in your real life too. It’s great for making grocery lists from recipes, generating gift ideas, or putting together a packing or party planning list.
4. Learning objectives:
ChatGPT can provide you with a list of learning objectives for any lesson in a matter of seconds. Just be sure to review the list and ensure they match your standards.
Query: Write learning objectives for a fourth grade lesson on central message of the story The Phantom Tollbooth.
5. Differentiate lesson plans:
ChatGPT can create differentiated lesson plans for you. The more detailed your prompts are, the more specific the produced lesson plans will be. This will save you a lot of time. You can write one basic lesson plan and let the bot do the rest of the work.
Ask the bot to “help me differentiate a lesson plan for teaching multiplication.”
After reviewing the results, you can refine your request by adding additional details about the student, grade level, or special learning needs to see what results you will get. It might take some trial and error to see what works best for you, but it still takes much less time than generating ideas on your own.
ChatGPT can also provide suggested modifications for students who need extra support and for those who need more of a challenge.
Query: Provide differentiation strategies for advanced learners (I had already specified that it was a multiplication lesson and the bot remembered that)
Talk about a huge time saver. This one took ChatGPT a little longer to complete–about a minute or so. Think about how long it takes you to generate IEPs for each student.
Obviously, you will need to read through the response and tweak it to fit your individual student. You will also want to add any specific district programs or buzzwords and remove anything that doesn’t make sense. But rather than starting with a blank page, you have all the ideas already generated for you.
Query: Write an IEP for an 8 year old third grade girl with ADHD, gifted, and has trouble completing assignments and tests in the time given.
This report was very long, so only the beginning appears in this screenshot.
ChatGPT is an excellent tool for generating emails to parents. You can even change the tone of your email by including words like a “friendly” email, a “strict” tone, or a “final reminder.” It’s fun to see how ChatGPT tweaks the response to reflect the proper tone.
AI is also a great tool for responding to parent emails. Especially the ones that leave you bristling. ChatGPT can quickly and easily formulate a non-emotional response.
You can also use it to write emails to parents about problems in the classroom.
Query: Write a letter to parents about students bringing in toys to class.
8. Science projects:
Here is another way to save tons of time. ChatGPT can pull together a list of supplies and even write out a step-by-step process for conducting science experiments. Enter the grade level and type of experiment you want to do, and in seconds you can have a list of materials and procedures.
I did not do any research about conducting this experiment, and I have never done a volcano experiment in the classroom. ChatGPT did all the research for me and put together these lists.
Query: Make a list of materials for a fifth grade science experiment on making and erupting a salt dough volcano.
Query: Write the procedure for a fifth grade science experiment to make and erupt a salt dough volcano.
9. Create a simple practice activity:
ChatGPT can also help you quickly create activities to use in class. You could use it to make a student worksheet or a list of questions you could use to play a review game. Rather than generating examples on your own, ChatGPT can do it in no time.
Query: Create a list of ten sentences for third grade where students have to identify the adjectives in each sentence.
10. Create text on different reading levels.
ChatGPT also does a great job writing texts at specific reading levels. It can rewrite existing texts that are too easy or too hard. Save yourself tons of time by asking ChatGPT to create the text you need at the appropriate reading levels. This is great for differentiating.
Query: Write a story about a boy and his dog who solve the mystery of the missing mitten at a third grade reading level.
Query: Rewrite the passage for fifth grade.
If you already have an existing passage, you can copy and paste it and ask ChatGPT to provide a different reading level.
11. Set boundaries:
As teachers, you are constantly being asked to do just one more thing. “It’s for the kids,” they say. Many teachers have a hard time saying no, and often these requests leave you feeling overwhelmed and overextended.
But I am a big believer in setting boundaries. It’s necessary to protect your time and maintain your sanity—and ChatGPT can help. Instead of fretting about how to respond the next time your principal asks you to chair yet another committee, let ChatGPT formulate a polite response declining the offer.
Query: Write a polite email response to principal Jones declining the offer to chair the student carnival committee
How to use ChatGPT
It’s really easy to use ChatGPT. If you know how to text or instant message, you’ll have no problem using this program. Go to https://chat.openai.com/auth/login and choose “sign up” to create an account. You can also continue with your Google account.
Once you answer a few basic questions, you’ll be logged into ChatGPT, and you’ll see a screen like this.
You can type your question or the task you would like the bot to complete in the text box at the bottom of the screen.
Start your conversation by typing your question or prompt in the text box. ChatGPT is a very sophisticated chatbot, so it is easy to use. You can type in full sentences and use basic conversational language. However, the more information you provide, the more detailed its responses will be.
The cool thing about ChatGPT is that you don’t have to start with a super-specific request. You can always begin with a general query and refine it with follow-up questions, just as you would when talking to someone.
Your conversation with the bot will flow like a text message, so it should feel familiar. Your question will rise to the top, and the bot’s response will populate below it. The text box will clear, so you can put in another query.
Remember that your chat with the bot is like a real conversation. It “remembers” all the previous questions you asked and its own answers as long as you stay in the same thread.
There is a menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Once you establish a history with the bot, you can choose to continue one of your previous chats by simply clicking on that chat. This option will be available every time you log into the site.
If you want to try a new task or ask a new question, start a new chat by clicking on “new chat” at the top of the left-hand menu bar.
Tips for using ChatGPT
- Experiment with your prompts. Try phrasing the same question in a few different ways. The response that you get from ChatGPT is only as good as the prompts you provide. The more detailed your questions/directions are, the more sophisticated and complete the responses will be.
- You don’t have to retype information. ChatGPT remembers your entire conversation; responses are based on the whole thread. As long as you stay in the thread, you can refine your search results without redoing everything you’ve already entered. If you type “list of books about baseball,” you can then add “picture books” or “third grade” in the following search. The bot remembers what you already told it, so you don’t have to reenter “book about baseball.”
- Know when to start a new conversation. If you want to move on to a new query, creating a new conversation is best. This will allow the bot to start fresh.
- Don’t worry about starting a new conversation. You can always access all your previous conversions from the menu bar to see your query and the response.
- Check the facts. This is common sense and good practice. You should not rely blindly on the information provided by ChatGPT. Always verify the information.
- Be aware of bias and offensive content. Although the creators of ChatGPT have created safeguards to prevent inappropriate responses, there are always workarounds, so be prepared for any and all responses.
- This blog post is intended to help you, the teacher, use ChatGPT. AI is not meant to be used as a teaching tool [at this time] or a recommendation for student use.
I hope that helps you get started using this new intuitive AI program to help save time, increase productivity, and make your life easier.
How to Love Teaching Again
If you liked these tips and are looking for more ways to simplify teaching and take back your life, you will love my new book, How to Love Teaching Again. This book is:
- a heartfelt, hands-on guide to setting boundaries, increasing productivity, and finding fulfillment as a teacher
- packed with simple, actionable strategies that you can implement right away.
- peppered with funny stories and real-life examples to make it a quick and FUN read.
- NOT a textbook–it’s a practical guide to help you beat burnout, overcome perfectionism, and fall in love with teaching again.
You’ll also get these three AWESOME bonuses:
- Book Club Kit: Want to host a book club at your school? This Book Club Kit includes a calendar of events, suggested reading schedule, reflection questions, and tips for implementing the most important strategies in each chapter!
- Yearlong Pacing Guides for grades 2-5: If you teach grades 2-5, you can just download and go! If not, these are great examples of how to create your own yearlong pacing guide and save yourself a ton of stress and time. Either way, they are pure gold.
- Editable Sub Plan Templates: From daily schedule to lesson plan template to classroom behavior plan and more, these templates include everything you need to plan for a sub without breaking a sweat. (In both digital and printable formats!) And the great thing is, most of these pages can be done in advance. So when you need to take a day off, you’ve got everything all ready to go!
Have a Not So Wimpy Day,