With all of the recent debates among educators regarding the AI tool, ChatGPT, it was no wonder that we would find sessions about it during this week’s TCEA Convention in San Antonio. I’ve been playing a lot with it since I first wrote about it in this post a few weeks ago. Because I was going to be presenting on Digital Differentiation with my colleague, Amy Chandler, I decided to test the limits of ChatGPT when it came to offering differentiation ideas — something that can really be time-consuming for teachers. I’d already seen demonstrations of it doing lesson plans and IEP’s, so coming up with Choice Boards or Learning Menus seemed like an obvious extension.
I won’t go through all of the iterations that I tried before landing on some substantial suggestions from the AI tool, but suffice it to say that if your first attempt yields gibberish, you may need to refine your wording. It did not escape me that I was trying to generate activities for the novel, The Giver, in which the fictional dystopian community places such a high value on precision of language as I kept correcting and adding details to my initial prompt. In the end, though, this is what I was able to coax out of ChatGPT:
In my estimation, this was not bad, perhaps needing a few tweaks here and there, but certainly far better than I could have come up with in an hour, much less the 5 minutes it had taken me and the tool to arrive at this point.
From there, I wanted to make the menu a bit more “palatable” for student consumption, so I turned to Canva where I found a free menu template, copied and pasted my activities from ChatGPT, replaced a couple of images to go with the theme, and was done in less than 15 minutes total from start to finish. (Want a free, editable Canva template of the menu below? Be sure you’ve subscribed to my newsletter!)
Andi McNair (follow her in Instagram @a_meaningful_mess!), one of my Genius Hour heroes, was in the audience, and decided to play around with it, too. She had the tool generate a Choice Board, which she posted on Instagram as you can see below.
Today I decided to push my boundaries a bit more, thinking it would be nice to have the choices on my Learning Menu somewhat correspond to ability levels. Here is what I got for Tuck Everlasting:
Again, not perfect, but I can definitely see differences in difficulty levels for the tasks. As Andi pointed out when we were discussing ChatGPT over lunch, it is basically gleaning information from all over the internet, so we are going to find that much of the wording is familiar to things we’ve seen in the past. ChatGPT is like a hyperfocused internet search that filters out all of the things you don’t need to give you as close to what you specify as it can find.
Now, keep in mind that this tool is not going to stay free. And, yes, there are plenty of ways it can be abused. It’s not perfect, and we still need humans, of course. But when we can get machines to do the time-consuming tasks that will then allow us to to do what we do best — guide, teach, and empower our students — why not take advantage of those tools? We can be thoughtful and critical thinkers and manage the resources available to us at the same time.