How to use ChatGPT to support your lesson planning

How to use ChatGPT to support your lesson planning

Four in 10 teachers report using ChatGPT at least once a week. As more educators explore AI’s capabilities, they are discovering new ways that the platform can support them and students. Notably, ChatGPT as a lesson plan generator can provide fun, novel ideas for classes,...

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Four in 10 teachers report using ChatGPT at least once a week. As more educators explore AI’s capabilities, they are discovering new ways that the platform can support them and students.

Notably, ChatGPT as a lesson plan generator can provide fun, novel ideas for classes, plus it can reduce teachers’ workload and streamline their planning time. Still, it’s important that using the technology doesn’t compromise schools’ high standards for lesson plans and learning outcomes.

5 ways to use AI for lesson plans

Here’s how to use ChatGPT for lesson planning, including how to write the best prompts and ensure lesson plans align with teachers’ expertise.

1. Get AI to define the learning objectives

If you enter text into ChatGPT about your class, and what topics or skills you want to teach, the platform can create lesson aims for you. You can ask the tool to formulate the objectives in a certain way. Here is an example prompt:

Give me suggestions for lesson objectives. My students are [age]. We are studying [skill or topic]. They enjoy [add some of your students’ preferences]. Please formulate the objectives as sentences from the students’ point of view, beginning “I can”.

You can also use AI to categorise existing lesson plans by uploading the lesson plans and asking it to reverse engineer the learning objectives. You can then organise plans and resources, and quickly find a lesson that meets the objectives of what you want to teach.

2. Generate an AI lesson plan structure

When it comes to the lesson plan itself, you can generate a pretty good basic AI lesson plan with ChatGPT. Then, you can refine and tweak it to make it yours. Simply ask ChatGPT to write a lesson plan based on the criteria you need. You could include details around:

  • Subject/focus
  • Lesson length
  • Materials needed
  • Staging etc. so it formats it correctly and breaks the lesson down into steps
  • Students’ capabilities/interests

If you give ChatGPT examples of lesson plans you’ve written yourself, it can mimic your style and structure. This method is particularly useful if you tend to teach from a skeleton plan but you need to provide a full lesson plan for admin or an observed lesson.

3. Brainstorm ideas for activities using AI

One of the things ChatGPT does best is to act as a brainstorming assistant. But the emphasis is on “assistant” as you’re unlikely to use the first ideas it generates. Remember to refine the results by specifying which ideas you like from ChatGPT and asking the tech to think of more similar activities. Or ask it to make its suggestions more tailored to the criteria that you supply.

As always, provide as much context as you can. For instance:

Suggest at least five activities for [type of class]. These should all be [e.g. oral] activities to [e.g. do in pairs]. These activities should be suitable for [age] students in [context].

4. Create additional lesson material using AI

It can be time consuming for teachers to create additional lesson materials like homework ideas, worksheets, quizzes or revision activities. But AI can generate these in seconds based on the lesson plans it has helped you write.

For example, you could give ChatGPT the following prompt:

Using the lesson plan that you have previously generated, create a 10-question quiz, with multiple choice answers, concentrating on content from the main activity of the class. The quiz should be written in formal English and be possible to complete in 15 minutes.

Remember to always review content that ChatGPT gives you. The technology is still being developed and can (and does) make errors. Proofread all materials before giving them to students, and double check that the content does align with what you’ve asked.

5. Ask AI to generate alternate instructions

After gathering lesson plans and additional lesson material from ChatGPT – that you’ve refined – ask the tool to create step-by-step instructions for students to follow. You could also ask ChatGPT to provide instructions for other teachers, or for individuals with diverse learning requirements. For instance, you could ask the platform to craft instructions in different languages or for students with learning disabilities.

A prompt for alternate instructions could look like this:

Write step-by-step instructions for [insert activity] from [lesson plan/additional material], and differentiate according to [reading ages 5 and 7]. Provide alternative instructions for pair and individual work also.

Extra tips: how to write a good ChatGPT prompt

What you write in ChatGPT has a direct effect on the results you’re given. The more detailed your input (called a ‘prompt’), the more informative the output will be. This process is known as ‘Prompt engineering’ and focuses on choosing the right words to tell ChatGPT what you want it to do. Think of AI like you would a real life assistant that you’re having a conversation with.

For example, an overly general prompt might be:

Plan a 40-minute lesson to introduce multiplication.

This prompt is vague and doesn’t have sufficient information to generate a good lesson plan.

A better alternative would be to give a more specific prompt to ChatGPT, including information about the age of your students, what they’ve already studied, and what they enjoy or find difficult. For example:

Plan a 40-minute lesson to introduce multiplication to 7-8 year olds. The students can manage addition and subtraction but struggle with numbers like 7, 8, and 9. They like collaborative games. Create the lesson bearing in mind learning standards [X, Y, Z].

You could also copy and paste your core curriculum or learning standards to inform the ChatGPT algorithm about the context in which you’re teaching. Then you just need to refer back to those standards in your prompt.

You can keep information about each class in a separate “chat” in the tool, so you can come back to that thread and ask ChatGPT for lesson plans for that specific class.

ChatGPT is an excellent resource for planning lessons. Not only does it speed up the process, it can do so while producing high quality content. That said, teachers have to be careful to check all of ChatGPT’s outcomes – after all, the tool is a helper, not a replacement for the skills of educators.

Further reading

To learn more about AI and technology, read Integrating AI into education, How students can use AI for studying, and AI in the classroom: 9 tools to use in 2024.

Looking to take your lesson planning a whole step further? Unlock teaching and learning excellence with our International GCSE Teaching Hubs. This brand-new digital solution for all International GCSE teachers contains meticulous, step-by-step lesson plans, media-rich resources and carefully curated assessment tools, to give you the course-specific support and tools to teach International GCSEs consistently, creatively and with complete confidence.

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