As with any new technology, reactions to the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot were mixed, ranging from alarmist to idealist. At this point, it’s safe to say that chatbots are neither the end of human problem solving as we know it nor the answer to all of our problems. Wherever they end up falling on this spectrum, it is now our responsibility to integrate AI technology into the classroom, and support students in integrating this tool into their lives, in a way that enhances the curriculum and instruction we provide.

A Time Saver

Ultimately, ChatGPT and other chatbots are valuable time-saving tools for educators. While the content generated by the technology isn’t going to be the finished product, it is a rough draft to work from that eliminates the dreaded blank page syndrome.

Practical applications range from basic lesson and unit planning to identifying options for modification and differentiation. For example, we asked ChatGPT to “write a math lesson for 1st graders being introduced to addition.” In less than 30 seconds we had a starting point:

Lesson Plan: Introduction to Addition for 1st Grade

Objective: Students will learn how to add two single-digit numbers using manipulatives, number lines, and mental math.


Manipulatives (such as counting blocks or buttons)
Number lines
Worksheets with addition problems
Whiteboard and markers (optional)

Introduction (5 minutes):
Begin the lesson by introducing the concept of addition to students. Explain that addition is the process of combining two or more numbers to get a total. Give some real-life examples where addition is used, such as counting money or adding ingredients in a recipe.

Using manipulatives (10 minutes):
Distribute manipulatives to each student and demonstrate how to use them to add numbers. Start with two numbers, for example, 3 and 4. Have students place 3 manipulatives in a row, then add 4 more. Count the total number of manipulatives to get the answer, which is 7. Have students practice with different sets of numbers.

Using number lines (10 minutes):
Introduce number lines and explain how they can be used for addition. Draw a number line on the whiteboard or use a printed one. Start with a number, for example, 2, and ask students to count forward on the number line to add another number, such as 3. Show how the final number is the total of the two numbers added together. Have students practice with different sets of numbers.

Mental math (10 minutes):
Now, have students practice addition using mental math. Ask them to solve simple addition problems in their head, such as 1+2 or 3+4. Encourage students to use strategies like counting on or making ten to help them solve the problems.

Independent practice (15 minutes):
Distribute worksheets with addition problems for students to complete independently. Walk around the room to offer assistance as needed. If time permits, have students work with a partner to solve addition problems together.

Closure (5 minutes):
Bring the class back together to review what they learned about addition. Ask students to share strategies they used to solve addition problems. Summarize the main points of the lesson and congratulate students on their hard work.

Observe students during independent practice and offer feedback as needed. Check worksheets for accuracy to gauge students’ understanding of addition. Use informal assessments, such as questioning or class discussion, to assess students’ understanding of the concept of addition.

Though some of the content is vague, referencing worksheets that are not included in the lesson plan, for example, so we followed up with “Generate a worksheet to accompany the above lesson plan.” Another 30 seconds, and we have a bank of practice problems and a potential assessment:

Worksheet: Introduction to Addition for 1st Grade

Instructions: Solve the addition problems using the strategies we learned in class.

Counting blocks:
Use the counting blocks to solve the addition problems. Write the answers in the boxes.

a) 2 + 3 = ___
b) 1 + 4 = ___
c) 3 + 1 = ___
d) 4 + 2 = ___

Number lines:
Use the number lines to solve the addition problems. Write the answers in the boxes.

a) 1 + 3 = ___
b) 2 + 2 = ___
c) 3 + 2 = ___
d) 4 + 1 = ___

Mental math:
Solve the addition problems using mental math. Write the answers in the boxes.

a) 1 + 2 = ___
b) 3 + 1 = ___
c) 2 + 4 = ___
d) 5 + 1 = ___

Word problems:
Solve the word problems using addition. Write the answers in the boxes.

a) Mary has 2 apples. She gets 3 more apples from her mom. How many apples does she have now? Answer: ___

b) There are 4 birds on a tree. 2 more birds join them. How many birds are on the tree now? Answer: ___

c) Tom has 3 marbles. His friend gives him 1 more marble. How many marbles does Tom have now? Answer: ___

d) Sam has 5 stickers. He buys 1 more sticker at the store. How many stickers does he have now? Answer: ___

Chatbots can also help with generating Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students. We asked ChatGPT to write a goal for a 5th grade student working on writing an expository essay.

IEP Goal

Goal: By the end of the semester, the 5th grade student will be able to write a clear and organized expository essay of at least five paragraphs that includes a strong thesis statement, supporting evidence, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay. The essay should use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and demonstrate an understanding of basic paragraph structure and transitions between ideas.

Again, this is only a starting point. Only the professional educators working directly with students know whether or not these suggested goals are appropriate for students. Chatbots like ChatGPT are not going to replace you or your knowledge of individual student needs. That is because these chatbots aren’t actually creating in the way we traditionally understand the process. What they’re doing is synthesizing vast amounts of information and presenting a best guess to your question or query based on the data it has available.

A Learning Opportunity

Because of the way that chatbots synthesize and present information, they sometimes generate responses that are inaccurate or misrepresentative. OpenAI’s own CEO, Sam Altman, has openly called ChatGPT a “horrible product.” While it may not be perfect, these inaccuracies and misrepresentations present their own opportunities in an educational setting by helping students develop critical thinking skills and strategies. For example, have students (with the aid of a teacher or another adult) prompt the chatbot to generate a piece of writing on a topic of interest to the student and then fact check and discuss the different positions.

Teaching students to think critically about information is a vital skill. Chatbots provide an opportunity to practice those skills and become proficient skeptics instead of cynics.

There are reasons to be cautious about chatbots. Academic dishonesty is one frequently cited concern, though it’s hardly a new one. As our colleagues did with the handheld calculator in the math classroom, instead of worrying about whether or not students are using chatbots to write essays (as some inevitably are), perhaps the focus should be on how best to use the technology we have available to achieve the best results.

bot createdStark opposition to a new idea or technology only prompts an arms race that has no winners. Within months of the ChatGPT’s debut, dozens of ‘AI Content Checkers,’ including one created by OpenAI themself, offer one potential mitigation to one concern about plagiarism. Although these tools, while useful in certain circumstances, present their own challenges.

Adapting to Challenges

AI has already been linked to discrimination in the hiring process for neurodivergent job seekers; it’s not hard to imagine that it is only a matter of time before AI checkers are found to hold similar biases.

In addition to bias, there are issues of equity when it comes to AI. ChatGPT is still a free tool (though you can purchase a ‘Pro’ license for $20/month), there is no guarantee that it will remain an open resource, or that the free version will provide the same quality of experience for users–students.

As with any new technology, there are positives and negatives when it comes to ChatGPT and other chatbots like it. The important thing is that we consider both in deciding how we should integrate new tools into the classroom. I’ll let ChatGPT have the final word:

chat gpt

About The Author

joe hense

Joe Hense
Account Manager
Faria Education Group

Joe is an Account Manager at Faria Education Group. He specializes in working with public schools who partner with Atlas. He coordinates with and supports school leaders throughout the country to realize and implement their curriculum process and goals.

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