Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
Try This: Technology

Try This - How ChatGPT Can Help With Your Lesson Plans

ChatGPT is one of the most transformative artificial intelligence (AI) programs to make an appearance in classrooms. The program is suddenly everywhere—with everyone from businesses to the media experimenting with the technology.
Students and teacher looking at laptop on desk.
Published: June 8, 2023

Ask ChatGPT a question, and it scours the internet, generating easy-to-understand text that compiles, paraphrases, and summarizes information. 

Like many educators, you may be understandably concerned about students using the program to cheat. While that continues to be a challenge, there’s also an intriguing upside to ChatGPT. It can provide new ideas for lessons and for engaging students?—helping you and your colleagues save precious time. 

Create Unique Lessons

To generate ideas for lesson plans, log on to the ChatGPT website and start a new conversation by typing into the chat bar. You can “ask” the program to formulate a lesson plan about a particular topic for a certain grade level and in the desired format. 

For example, when a user types, “Create an artistic lesson plan for Women’s History Month in a sixth-grade classroom,” the program responds with a lesson plan instructing students to create a painting, collage, or sculpture that demonstrates an impactful woman’s accomplishments. 

Oregon English teacher Cherie Shields says ChatGPT has improved her teaching methods. For her high school science fiction unit, she asked ChatGPT to generate 10 different project options. Instead of a traditional essay, the program suggested imaginative projects, such as creating and explaining a poster of an alien.

She encourages fellow educators to give the program a test drive, too.

“The best way to learn anything new is just to jump right in and try it out,” Shields says. 

Similarly, California English teacher Kim Lepre says ChatGPT can simplify and improve educators’ everyday lives. Lepre uses the program to differentiate instruction, generate quizzes, and even email parents, saving more time to interact with students.

Through the website, Lepre created a new lesson for a unit about the Salem witch trials. The program helped her generate an article for her seventh-grade students, plus 10 variations of a multiple-choice quiz.

Differentiate materials and rethink instruction

ChatGPT can translate assignments into a student’s native language or simplify materials for new language learners. For example, you could prompt the program to, “Rewrite this at a fourth-grade reading level,” or, “Translate this reading into Arabic.” 

AI can also present a different approach to instruction. The program can simplify instructions and reevaluate materials. 

When Lepre got stuck while teaching a literature lesson about text evidence, she turned to ChatGPT for help. 

“Something about the way that I was explaining to the students, … it wasn’t coming across to them,” she says. So she asked ChatGPT to “explain evidence in a paragraph.” In less than a minute, she was able to reintroduce the concept in a way her students understood.

ChatGPT Can Be a Teaching Tool

There is no denying that some students are using ChatGPT to cheat. Some districts have outright bans on artificial intelligence (AI) programs. But California English teacher Kim Lepre offers a different perspective. 

“AI is already here. We can’t run from it. Let’s teach them how to leverage it,” Lepre says. “We have to prepare kids for the future, and the future is AI.”

Lepre and Oregon English teacher Cherie Shields offer these tips to discourage cheating and use ChatGPT as a learning opportunity.

These five exercises familiarize students with the limits of ChatGPT and build editing and fact-checking skills, too. 

  1. Talk with students about academic integrity policies, so they are clear about what is and is not allowed.
  2. Design assignments that prevent the use of AI by requiring personal narratives and critical reasoning. 
  3. Teach students how to use ChatGPT to learn about new topics. Believe it or not, this can actually help prevent unethical use of the programs.
  4. Ask students to evaluate information generated by ChatGPT.
  5. Have students reverse engineer a ChatGPT essay by personalizing the text and adding missing details. They can also compare AI content with original writing.  

Get more from

We're here to help you succeed in your career, advocate for public school students, and stay up to date on the latest education news. Sign up to stay informed.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.