5 Ways To Teach With ChatGPT

teach with chatgpt
(Image credit: Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

Learning to teach with ChatGPT is a new and somewhat controversial practice. Much of the conversation in education since the advanced AI chatbot debuted in late 2022 has focused on how to prevent ChatGPT cheating. However, many educators now teach with ChatGPT and find it a helpful and versatile tool. 

Just remember ChatGPT is designed for use by adults 18 and up, and is still new technology with potential uses and misuses that are not yet fully understood. For example, technology related to ChatGPT that has been integrated with the Bing search engine for select users recently made headlines for saying disturbing things to a New York Times reporter. College students may be old enough to experiment with ChatGPT on their own, but K-12 students may need to work with a teacher through the educator's account. 

Here are five ways to teach with ChatGPT. 

1. Teach with ChatGPT: Have Your Students Critique ChatGPT’s Writing  

Having ChatGPT generate writing that is then critiqued by your students can be a fun exercise, says Jenith Mishne, director of Education Technology at Newport-Mesa USD in California. 

“Put your prompt into ChatGPT and then get the five-paragraph paper and ask your students make this better," she says. "'Let's talk about this writing because we know it's not great writing. It is very bland, there's no life story or personal experience.'” 

This can be an engaging way to get students thinking critically about both writing and the potential and limitations of this new technology. 

2. Have ChatGPT Critique Your Students 

ChatGPT can check student text for grammar and spelling errors, and is also capable of offering advice on it with the correct prompts, says Torrey Trust, an education professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

“Some of these students who get stuck with sitting down with a blank page, or are not sure how to write a transition between paragraphs and then they just stopped writing, or are really stuck with grammar and spelling or language translation, can write what's on their minds, and then turn to ChatGPT for feedback,” she says. 

To get ChatGPT to critique a piece of writing, ask something along the lines of “Can you offer some feedback on this writing sample?” As with preexisting spellcheckers, its suggestions are not always accurate, so students should take ChatGPT's writing advice with caution. 

3. Have ChatGPT Quiz Your Students and Summarize Subjects for Them

“It can help with test or practice questions,” Trust says. “If students have an upcoming end-of-unit assessment, ChatGPT could generate a list of testing quiz practice questions for them to continue building their knowledge to prepare for the test.” 

When it's working at its best, ChatGPT can provide excellent summaries of topics, ranging from grammar to math, and beyond. 

“I've seen examples of students who have struggled with complex topics turning to ChatGPT and saying, ‘Summarize this for a 10-year-old or a high school student,’ and it really makes the language more accessible and easier to understand,” Trust says. Of course, it’s not always correct, however, learning digital literacy and appropriate skepticism can also be a valuable skill for students. 

4. Use ChatGPT to Teach Code  

ChatGPT has the capability to write code and using it for this can show students the power of coding, particularly for those who might struggle with the subject matter, says Sheetal Sood, associate dean for assessment at the University of Hartford. 

“Taking a simple code and being actually able to move a car from one spot to the other, they have a starting point, it's just so exciting,” she says. “Finally there is something that doesn't have to just be for the students who are doing well. Because with STEM and STEAM, the curriculum is accessible to students who are excelling in certain subject areas. So just to see how it can help struggling students has been really exciting.” 

Sood is also excited by the potential of the tool to help with making education more accessible overall. 

5. Discuss The Tool With Students Without Banning It  

Lisa Zawilinski, executive director for the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation at the University of Hartford, says attempts to ban tech tools in the past haven’t been successful. 

“I liken it back to when Wikipedia first became a thing and all of the instructors were saying, ‘Now don't use Wikipedia, you can't use Wikipedia.' What were students doing? They were using Wikipedia,” she says. However, over time educators began using Wikipedia and learned it was a good place to go at the start of their research on a topic. 

As society learns the best uses for ChatGPT, educators should invite their students to participate in questions about its ethical implications and proper usage. 

While the educators interviewed for this story all agree using ChatGPT with a healthy dose of caution, they want to balance that with encouraging students to properly access the tools at their disposal. 

For instance, when Mishne was getting her doctorate in the late 2000s, the teacher asked a question for which no one in class knew the answer. “We all had our computers, and I Googled it, and I raised my hand, I answered it,” she says. Other students started complaining she cheated. Mishe recalls the professor silencing her critical classmates. “I didn't say you couldn't use Google. She was just smart. She had a tool at her fingertips, and she used it.” 

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.