As an educational consultant, I've had the chance to work with a diverse range of schools and teachers to help them improve instructional strategies, effectively integrate educational technology and increase the quality of their curriculum and programs. Often, school leaders are looking for answers to address achievement gaps or create a more inclusive school culture. Our conversations typically start with me prompting a discussion about the school community. Lately, my initial consultations with schools have been quite different. I introduce myself, ask them how things are going at the school and instead of an overview of the school I hear, “ChatGPT-3 is going to destroy our English courses!” The new school story includes words and phrases like “cheating,” and “will never learn how to write,” and inevitably ends with “How do we stop our students from using it?”
I am here to tell you that ChatGPT-3 is not the end of the world for English teachers. For just a few minutes, let’s suspend the belief that GPT-3 (that’s what it prefers to be called, I asked) is not a mustache-twirling, tall hat wearing, skinny, maniacal man clad in a dark black cape intent on destroying all that is good in composition and literature classes. Instead , let’s give it a bright red cape and an uncomfortably tight, spandex suit and look at the super powers this hero has for classroom teachers and students. I promise you, there are strategies that educators can employ to not only create engaging lessons that foster critical thinking and reflection skills, but also have the potential to elevate students’ writing skills like never before.
Let’s start at the beginning with preparing to teach and assess learning. GPT-3 is an excellent resource for teachers to use for lesson planning. A teacher can input a series of ideas, vocabulary, a grade level and ask GPT-3 to create a lesson plan to address a specific set of outcomes. If the plan isn’t quite right, additional prompts from the teacher can fine tune the lesson until it meets expectations. Need a rubric for grading? GPT-3 has that covered, too. To create a grading rubric using GPT-3, a teacher can provide a prompt that describes the assignment or project, along with the specific criteria and standards that should be used to evaluate the work. GPT-3 can then generate a list of potential criteria and standards, along with explanations and examples. The information and be revised as many times as needed to get the perfect scoring tool.
GPT-3 can also be used to generate writing prompts, reading comprehension questions, vocabulary exercises, and discussion or debate prompts. By giving GPT-3 a topic, it can come up with different viewpoints that can lead to more robust classroom discussions and debates that build critical thinking skills. My favorite use of GPT-3 is to test my own writing prompts to see if they are “GPT-3 proof.” Yes, you can use this tool to create writing prompts that cannot be adequately answered by a language generator.
There are many benefits for student use, as well. I encourage students to use GPT-3 to assist them in research projects. It can be used to generate research topics, bibliographies and even citations and references. Students can refine their research questions, create solid hypothesis and predictions, and find the resources they need instantly to support their work. As a child of the card catalog who transitioned into using Google Scholar, this is perhaps the most time-saving and efficient way to gather information and one I use in my own work frequently.
GPT-3 can also be utilized for creative writing assignments. Students can enter a topic or prompt and use GPT-3 to create word walls and brainstorm ideas. Once they’ve identified an area of interest, they can use GPT-3 to write a first draft. Don’t panic! Stay with me here. This type of use can be a lifesaver for students who have trouble getting started or are stuck with writer's block. In addition, GPT-3 is not infallible and the first draft will need a thorough review and your brilliantly designed rubric can provide students with the specific criteria they need to improve their draft. The second draft can be uploaded into GPT-3 and help students further edit and revise their work by giving suggestions for grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. I have seen teachers use GPT for all types of writing assignments such as, poetry, short stories, novellas, biographies, song lyrics, speeches as well as scripts for videos, movies and cartoons.
GPT-3 is an effective tool that can assist teachers in planning and make writing an interactive and engaging experience. While these are just a few examples of how GPT-3 can be used, it's important to remember that it's meant to be a tool to enhance learning, not replace it. We all know it’s really the teachers who have super powers and wear capes and they will certainly continue to do so— even with GPT-3 in the classroom. As an educational consultant, my goal is to give teachers ideas on how to use GPT-3 in their classes in creative ways that boost student learning and increase engagement. However, GPT-3 is not without its faults and these, too, must also be considered when using it as a teaching tool. Bias, incorrect information and a database that ends in 2021 are a few of the limitations that impact its effective use.
If you’re interested in learning more about GPT-3 and its use in educational settings from high school to college, please schedule a free consultation with me to discuss your needs. I’ve also got a series of three professional development seminars that digs deeper into how GPT-3 works, provides specific strategies and tips to use its limitations to increase learning, and includes a workshop experience in which participants get hands-on experience developing lessons and receive feedback they can immediately apply.