ChatGPT in Education

Michelle Hollander
Director of Educational Content
Blog on April 14 2023

By Michelle Hollander and Cori Frede

When we first learned about ChatGPT, our first reaction was skepticism, not so much in its abilities, but rather in how it could provide positive contributions to the classroom. We had some of the same concerns many of you might have, such as: “won’t students just use it to cheat or save time on papers?” and “will it give teachers more work to try to determine if a writing piece is in their students’ voice or not?” While these types of concerns are valid, have you considered how it could also be a beneficial tool with a variety of positive attributes? After listening to a panel from Wakelet, “Threat or Opportunity? The Educator Response to ChatGPT” and trying it out, we realized that there were opportunities to include it in education. Here, we’ll discuss some potential uses and limitations.

First, let’s go back to the basics and talk about what ChatGPT is in the first place. At its core, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that was developed by OpenAI, a research laboratory, that has the ability to learn from previous interactions and provide information to generate human-like responses to queries. It can remember information from earlier in a conversation and even decline inappropriate requests. However, it is limited in that it doesn’t know much after 2021, and may sometimes generate incorrect information because of this. Additionally, machine generated information may be incorrect without human oversight to cite sources, and we personally, have run into some errors.

Similar to Wikipedia and other common tools, we need to approach ChatGPT with caution. It can help inspire and even jumpstart ideas, but fact checking and gathering reputable citations is still of utmost importance. The reality is that AI tools are becoming increasingly mainstream, and as such, it will become harder and harder to eliminate them from the education sphere. Instead, we can highlight the tools’ usefulness while having students garner and understand skills in digital fluency and citizenship. It is also important to note that ChatGPT’s current terms of service state that it should be used by individuals 18+. Therefore, while it’s a great resource for teachers, it should not be used by students at the current time.

With all of that said, ChatGPT can provide some valuable insights for education. At a basic level, you can conduct research to find primary sources including academic articles. Writing assistance can be provided with suggestions for sentence structure, word structure, and even example thesis statements. Learning can be personalized as you spark ideas or create tailored recommendations, such as book lists or suggestions for virtual field trips. Plus, ChatGPT can answer questions, provide feedback, and even offer study tips!

Here are our top 10 favorite ways to use ChatGPT.

1. Language learning

Practice having conversations, create short stories for students to translate, or perform additional translations. Here’s an example of how this could work:

Query: Write a short story in Japanese.
ChatGPT Response: あるところに、小さな村がありました。村の人々は、みんな仲がよく、毎日楽しく暮らしていました。

ある日、村の中心にある大きな木が枯れてしまいました。村人たちはとても心配しました。なぜなら、その木は村の中心であり、村人たちの生活に欠かせない存在だったからです。

村の長老たちは、何とかしてその木を助けたいと考えました。しかし、どうやって助けたらよいのかわかりませんでした。そこで、村の中にいる賢者に相談することにしました。

賢者は、村人たちに「この木は、人々の心の状態を表している」と言いました。「もし、みんなが幸せで穏やかな気持ちで暮らせるようになれば、この木も元気を取り戻すことができます。」

村人たちは、その言葉を信じて、自分たちの心の状態を改めることにしました。彼らは、お互いに助け合い、笑顔で過ごすようになりました。

すると、不思議なことが起こりました。その枯れていた木が、徐々に元気を取り戻し始めました。新しい葉が生え、新しい花が咲きました。

村人たちは、この奇跡的な出来事に驚きました。彼らは、自分たちの心の状態が、物事に影響を与えることを学びました。そして、その日から、村はますます幸せな場所になったのでした。

Query: Translate in English.
ChatGPT Response: Once upon a time, there was a small village where the people lived happily together. One day, a large tree in the center of the village withered and died. The villagers became very worried because the tree was a crucial part of their daily lives.

The village elders tried to find a way to save the tree, but they didn’t know how. So, they decided to consult the wise man who lived in the village.

The wise man told the villagers that the tree represented the state of their hearts and minds. He said that if everyone lived in a happy and peaceful state of mind, the tree would recover.

The villagers believed the wise man’s words and decided to change their ways. They started helping each other and living with smiles on their faces.

Something miraculous happened. The withered tree gradually regained its strength. It sprouted new leaves and flowers.

The villagers were amazed by this miracle. They learned that their state of mind affected everything around them. From that day on, the village became an even happier place.

 

2. Provide additional math equations

Can’t think of a good question to ask your students? Look no further!

Query: Provide a basic calculus question.
ChatGPT Response: Here’s a basic calculus question:

Find the derivative of the function f(x) = x^2 + 3x – 2.

To find the derivative of a function, you can use the power rule of differentiation, which states that the derivative of x^n is n*x^(n-1). Using this rule, we can find the derivative of f(x) as follows:

f'(x) = 2x + 3

Therefore, the derivative of the function f(x) = x^2 + 3x – 2 is f'(x) = 2x + 3.

 

3. Generate question sets for EdPuzzle 

One idea is to ask ChatGPT to generate a list of comprehension questions by copying and pasting the transcript from a YouTube video. Use these comprehension questions when you import the video to EdPuzzle for an engaging experience for students.

 

4. Simplify language/reading levels

Simplify the reading comprehension level of an article for differentiation purposes within seconds.


Query: Can you simplify this article for a 1st grade reading level? https://www.nasa.gov/feature/take-the-next-giant-leap-with-nasa-and-minecraft 

ChatGPT Response: NASA is a group of people who explore space. They want to work with Minecraft, a popular video game, to teach people about space. They will create special activities in the game that teach players about things like building rockets and exploring space. This will help people learn about space and maybe become interested in working with NASA in the future.

 

5. Create writing prompts for students

Specify a topic and a grade level to get some great ideas like this:

Query: Can you create a writing prompt for 3rd grade students learning about space travel?

ChatGPT Response: Sure, here’s a writing prompt for 3rd grade students learning about space travel:
“Imagine you are an astronaut on a mission to explore a new planet. Write a journal entry about your journey, starting from the moment you blast off into space. Describe what you see and feel as you leave Earth’s atmosphere and travel through space. When you arrive on the new planet, describe what you see and what you do to explore it. What discoveries do you make? What challenges do you face? Finally, write about your journey back to Earth and how you feel about the whole experience.”

6. Peer review practice

Have ChatGPT provide writing samples for students to practice peer reviewing before having them assist each other.

Query: Write a paragraph about traveling to space as a narrative.

ChatGPT Response: As I strapped into my seat and felt the rumble of the rocket engines, my heart raced with excitement and anticipation. I had dreamt of traveling to space for as long as I could remember, and now it was finally happening. As we ascended higher and higher, I watched in awe as the Earth shrank below us, its blue and green hues blending into the darkness of space. As we reached orbit, I floated weightlessly in the cabin, marveling at the incredible view of the cosmos that lay before me. It was both humbling and exhilarating to realize how small I was in the grand scheme of things. For the next few days, I explored the International Space Station, conducted experiments, and gazed out at the infinite expanse of space. As we prepared to return to Earth, I felt a sense of bittersweet sadness at leaving this incredible world behind, but I knew that I would carry the memories and lessons of my space journey with me for the rest of my life.

7. ChatGPT dictionary/encyclopedia

Create definitions and descriptions at different levels of comprehension.

Query: Define “hypothesis.”

ChatGPT Response: A hypothesis is a proposed explanation or prediction for a phenomenon or set of phenomena, based on limited evidence or prior knowledge. It is a tentative statement that is subject to testing and validation through scientific inquiry. Hypotheses are often used in scientific research as a starting point for investigation, and are typically formulated as a statement that can be tested through observation and experimentation. The purpose of developing a hypothesis is to provide a clear and testable explanation for a phenomenon, and to guide the design of empirical research that can either support or refute the hypothesis.

Query: Explain it to a toddler.

ChatGPT Response: A hypothesis is when we have a guess or an idea about something and we want to find out if it’s true. It’s like when we guess what color a toy car is, and then we check to see if we were right by looking at it closely. A hypothesis helps us learn more about things by guessing and then testing to see if our guess is right or wrong.

8. Code examples

Provide examples for coding and computer programming by specifying a language and task, like so:

Query: Write a Python code to automate lights.

ChatGPT Response: To automate lights using Python, you would need to use a library that allows you to control the lights. Here is an example using the PySerial library to control an Arduino with a relay module that is connected to the lights.

Screenshot of python code example created by ChatGPT.
Here’s an example of Python for Arduino written by ChatGPT.

In this example, we first open a serial connection to the Arduino using the PySerial library. Then, we define two commands to turn the lights on and off. We send the “on” command to turn the lights on and wait for 5 seconds using the time.sleep() function. Finally, we send the “off” command to turn the lights off and close the serial connection.

Note that this is just an example and the specific code may vary depending on your setup and the type of lights you are using.

 

9. Brainstorm

Brainstorm ideas for anything in your classroom, like student awards.

Query: Provide a list of classroom badges students could earn.

ChatGPT Response: Sure, here are some ideas for classroom badges that students could earn:

  1. Super Scientist – For students who excel in science and show great interest in exploring and learning about the world around them.
  2. Creative Genius – For students who show exceptional creativity in their projects and assignments.
  3. Math Master – For students who excel in mathematics and consistently demonstrate strong problem-solving skills.
  4. Outstanding Organizer – For students who are able to stay organized and on top of their work, with a tidy workspace and well-planned assignments.
  5. Terrific Team Player – For students who are great at working collaboratively with their classmates, and show respect and kindness to others.
  6. Stellar Speller – For students who have an excellent grasp of spelling and consistently demonstrate accuracy in their writing.
  7. Awesome Attendance – For students who have perfect or near-perfect attendance throughout the school year.
  8. Kindness Champion – For students who consistently show kindness and compassion to their classmates and teachers.
  9. Reading Rockstar – For students who show a love of reading and demonstrate a high level of comprehension and analysis in their reading assignments.
  10. Creative Writer – For students who show exceptional writing skills, with a strong ability to express themselves and tell engaging stories.

These are just a few ideas, and you can customize them to fit your specific classroom and subject area.

 

10. Share image descriptions

Although ChatGPT does not have access to visual data and cannot perform image searches, textual information can be provided if context or specific details of a particular image are given.

Query: Can you describe starry night?

ChatGPT Response: Sure, “Starry Night” is a famous painting by the Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. It depicts a night scene with a small village in the foreground and a towering dark cypress tree on the left. The sky is the main focus of the painting and it is depicted in a swirling pattern of blues, yellows, and whites, with bright stars scattered throughout. The moon is shown as a large yellow disc in the upper right corner of the painting. The brushstrokes are thick and expressive, creating a sense of movement and emotion. The overall effect of the painting is dreamlike and hypnotic, conveying a feeling of awe and wonder at the beauty of the night sky.

 

As you can see, there are so many possibilities for using ChatGPT for education, and as more users interact with its interface, new ideas will certainly emerge. What are some ways you are using ChatGPT in the classroom? Comment below or reach out to us on social media!


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more content on the Teq Talk blog or our YouTube channels OTIS for educators and Tequipment.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and support with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology and strategies that spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening!

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