Lesson planning with AI: Save time and get ideas

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence | Monday, November 20, 2023

Lesson planning with AI: Save time and get ideas

Artificial intelligence can help you write lesson plans faster -- and give you new ideas you might not consider. Here are some tips and strategies you can use.


Planning lessons has always been a struggle for me.

When I have planned lessons for my high school Spanish classes, I've almost always over-thought them.

I would worry about engaging my students. Making my lessons relevant and interesting.

Some teachers just sit down and crank them out.

I, on the other hand, have undergone an existential crisis seemingly every time.

And it takes forever.

Help is on the way. It can help all of us in education -- the chronic over-thinkers (like me), the quick-draw fast planners, and all of us in between.

Artificial intelligence. 

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Part 1: Use AI to enhance existing lessons

Today's AI assistants have lots and lots of information in their data sets about what makes a quality lesson plan. And if you keep asking the assistant follow-up questions, you'll keep getting closer and closer to what you're looking for.

The result? Minutes of saved time. 

If you save minutes over and over, you know what you get? Hours of saved time. 

Compile enough hours of saved time over the course of a school year -- or a teaching career -- and it changes how we feel about our career -- and what we can do during it.

In this section, we'll be collaborating with a variety of tools, including:

  • AI assistants (the term we'll use for large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing/Copilot, Google Bard, etc.)
  • AI image generators (text-to-image tools like Microsoft Image Creator, Adobe Firefly, Midjourney, etc.)
  • AI-assisted educator tools (tools that use AI models and are trained to do teacher tasks)

Let's save some time -- and get some creative ideas for lesson planning. 

Here's how artificial intelligence can help.

1. Ask an AI assistant for a lesson plan.

Yes, AI assistants like ChatGPT can write lesson plans! Of course, they're based on info published online and in books about lesson plans, so don't expect anything super innovative. But we're not coming to ChatGPT for innovative.

We're coming for a starting point. We're looking for a first draft.

Once we get that first draft, we're able to adjust it. Throw out the parts you don't like. Keep the ones you do. Adjust the whole thing based on what you know about your students, about your content, etc.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, Google Bard, Perplexity, Anthropic Claude

2. Ask an AI image generator to create a lesson hook.

Artificial intelligence image creators like Bing Image Creator will make just about anything you ask for. Create a custom image related to the topic you're planning to teach. Make it provocative. Make it surprising. Ask it what a historical character you're studying would look like as a child. Ask it for a rendering of a scene in a book you're reading. Sometimes, a surprising image -- or one that makes students think -- is enough to hook students into a lesson. You can also use other image creators like Midjourney (midjourney.com) or DALL-E .

🏅 Suggested AI image generators: Bing Image Creator, Adobe Firefly, Canva Text to Image, Midjourney

Learn more: AI image generators: 10 tools, 10 classroom uses

3. Ask an AI assistant for analogies.

Our brains love analogies. They connect something new -- the content or ideas students are learning about -- to something that's already established in our brains. When we do that, it helps us understand how new things work because we have an existing paradigm for it. AI assistants like ChatGPT can create analogies for us -- and explain the connection so it helps students understand.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

4. Ask Curipod for some interactive slides.

When you're introducing new material to students, sometimes it's helpful to have some slides with information, images, and even questions for discussion or to demonstrate comprehension. When we as humans create slides, we often use certain rules over and over -- or draw upon successful experiences from our past to create slides. Curipod (curipod.com) asks for a topic and your content standards. Then it creates a set of interactive slides, complete with details, images, discussion questions, comprehension questions, and more. These slides can engage students in learning about new ideas and help them to understand.

Learn more: 10 ways Curipod engages your students with AI

5. Ask an AI assistant for common misconceptions or struggles.

Sometimes, half the battle in teaching isn't knowing how to present new ideas. It's knowing how to respond when students struggle. We often don't know exactly what students are struggling with -- and when we ask them, sometimes they can't quite articulate it. Ask an AI assistant like ChatGPT about common misconceptions or struggles that people have when learning about or trying to understand what you're teaching. You can ask it for solutions and/or come up with your own.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

6. Ask EduAide for questions and topics for discussions.

Once students have learned about something new, there's value in having them discuss it. They can talk about the content -- what they understand and what they don't. They can discuss their feelings -- what the like or don't like about what they've learned. They can discuss their learning journey -- what is easy, difficult, meaningful to them. Want some ideas on how to engage students in those discussions? Eduaide has a whole section dedicated to questions in their content generator. You can create discussion prompts, deep questions, scenario based questions and even questions targeting specific levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

Learn more: 30 AI tools for the classroom

7. Ask Diffit to help you differentiate instruction.

Diffit allows you to get leveled resources for literally anything. You can adapt existing materials for any reader, generate “just right” resources for any topic and then edit and share resources with students. Go to web.diffit.me and enter search for a topic, term or question, enter a url or paste copied text. From there choose a reading level and language and click "generate resources". Diffit will automagically generate tons of resources based on the content you provided. They have an ever growing library of templates and gives teachers a few options for sharing the content with students.

Learn more: 30 AI tools for the classroom

8. Get a YouTube video summary with Magic School AI

MagicSchool.ai has a YouTube summarizer tool that will generate a summary of a YouTube video in whatever length you choose. Note: Videos will not be able to be summarized if the author did not enable closed captions. Use this for yourself to get an overview of the content of a video. Or create a summary for your students for review purposes or to give them a preview of what they're about to watch.

Learn more: 30 AI tools for the classroom

9. Ask MagicSchool.ai to help you create a rubric.

Lots of teachers struggle with creating rubrics. Often, they're intimidated by the format and getting all of the details right. Some just don't feel they can get the indicators, criteria, and rating scale quite right. Thankfully, AI assistants like MagicSchoolAI and even ChatGPT have lots of information about successful rubrics in their dataset -- and they've trained on it to identify patterns that can be helpful to you. Ask your AI assistant for a rubric -- and be sure to include specifics about what you're looking for when you make the request. Bonus for Chatbots: Ask it to format the rubric in a table for you.

Learn more: 30 AI tools for the classroom

10. Ask an AI assistant for reflection topics.

When students reflect on learning, they place it in context with other things they've learned. They think metacognitively about how they learn. When all of this happens, students make the most of their learning. Often, it only takes a little time -- but the results are great. Asking AI for some reflection questions -- to help students reflect on content but also on themselves as learners -- can save us some time and help our students. 

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

11. Ask an AI assistant to align your lesson to content standards

Most teachers I've talked to are not enthusiastic about providing documentation about content standard alignment! Most of us understand the need for standards, and we do the best we can to teach to them. But aligning lessons to standards -- and then showing how we've done it -- can take us away from other work that feels more directly connected to student success.

Tell your AI assistant about your lesson (or ask AI to write it!). Then, afterward, ask it to align it to a specific set of standards -- and justify its decisions. It'll provide specific standards and a rationale.

And yes, if you're thinking this process seems a little backward, maybe it is. Maybe we should figure out which standards we're going to teach to and then plan a lesson that addresses them. But sometimes, we know what we want/need to teach -- and we have a lot on our to-do lists to check off! 

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

12. Ask an AI assistant to turn your content into an engaging story

Our brains are wired for story. Give us a list of unrelated facts and you're bound to lose our attention. But tell us a story that knits them all together and we're riveted ... hooked ... wanting more. 

Want to use the power of story to help students learn? An AI assistant could help. First, tell it what you're intending to teach and ask it how it could be taught with a story (or the elements of storytelling). Then, if it gives you an idea that you like, ask it for an example (or multiple examples) of that idea. Remember to use follow-up prompts to ask for adjustments, for additional versions, for more teaching resources to supplement, etc.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

13. Ask an AI assistant for a content-related "adventure story"

I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. I loved reading a few pages and then getting to choose the character's next move -- over and over until the story concluded. Then, I'd go back to the beginning and choose different paths.

AI assistants can create a version of these that students can engage in on their own -- or that you can drive in the front of the room on a projector or interactive display. And the stories can be infused with the content your students should be studying.

(Note: If students are going to use an AI assistant directly, be sure they're old enough -- and that they meet the terms of use of the app.)

Here's a prompt I gave an AI assistant to create one of these "adventure stories." Change the bold text to match your own content (or, really, adjust any of it to your liking).

I'd like you create a text adventure game for me. I'm studying history in high school. I'd like it to explore Mesopotamia and help me explore important people, events, and concepts in its geography and language. Create it like a historically accurate story, teaching me about Mesopotamia while I'm interacting with it. Give me three paragraphs of story at a time. Then, stop and ask me to make a decision. Continue the story in a way that's consistent with the decision I've made. Ideally, I'd like about 6 prompts before the story ends. When the story ends, ask me a few questions that help me reflect on what I've learned.

(Hat tip to Earl Yager of El Paso ISD for getting me started on these!)

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

14. Ask an AI assistant for dialogue about class content

Dialogue, like story, can help tricky content feel a little more accessible ... a little more easily understandable. It conveys that content in a way that's very familiar to us -- back and forth conversation.

An AI assistant can create a variety of dialogues that can help students learn ...

  • A conversation between student and teacher to explain new content
  • A conversation from the perspective of two people you're studying
  • A conversation between two students who are trying to understand
  • A talk show interview of a person you're studying (or an expert in that content)
  • A news reporter interviewing someone involved in an event/happening about your content

Use the results that the AI assistants create to share with students in a document -- or to be read out loud in class -- or in a comic strip or a video with the conversation as a script.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude

15. Ask an AI assistant for real-world connections and examples

Students have been asking for the entire history of education -- "How am I going to use this in the real world?" An AI assistant can help you answer this question. Ask an AI assistant for several ways that your content fits into jobs or situations in which students might find themselves. Or ask the AI assistant to give you one example in detail, diving deep into how it might work. Share the examples that the AI assistant gives with your students and have them reflect on them.

🏅 Suggested AI assistants: ChatGPTMicrosoft CopilotGoogle BardPerplexityAnthropic Claude


Part 2: Plan new lessons with your AI assistant

As educators collaboration can be energizing. It can boost our productivity and reignite the flame for creating great lessons that we had when we first began teaching. Bouncing ideas off of our colleagues and co-creating something that we can each take into our own classes and make our own.

Unfortunately, we rarely get the time we need to collaborate with our colleagues and if we do the topic is often set by an agenda created by admin. Those open brainstorming sessions where ideas fly and great content is created, shared and molded for our students are far and few between. If you are at a site where you do get to enjoy this type of collaboration and planning time with your colleagues then kudos to your admin! You’re a lucky staff!

For the rest of us, lesson planning is an important but often lonely part of your job. Creating a lesson plan that aligns with state standards can be time-consuming and challenging. 

Enter AI.

With the help of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT we can brainstorm, bounce around ideas, rework lessons and get feedback on them.

Think of AI as your personal teaching assistant. It’s like having that colleague next door who shares a great lesson with you to try with your class. Then after you try it, modifying it to fit your own class, you sit can reflect together and decide what worked and what didn’t.

Here’s how it can work:

✍️ Creating lessons with your AI teaching assistant

Step 1: Create a lesson plan with AI

Identify the standard

Choose a standard from your state’s curriculum that you want to address in your lesson. This could be a standard related to math, science, language arts, or social studies. You can copy the standard directly from your state website.

 Input the standard into ChatGPT

Once you have identified the standard, input it into ChatGPT. You can do this by typing in the standard or copying and pasting it into the chatbot. ChatGPT will analyze the standard and generate a response that provides an overview of the key concepts and skills related to the standard.

Use the response to create a lesson plan

Using the response generated by ChatGPT, you can begin to create your lesson plan. Consider the key concepts and skills related to the standard and brainstorm activities and assessments that will address these areas. 

  1. Identify the key concepts and skills related to the standard. For example, if the standard is related to reading comprehension, the key concepts might include identifying the main idea, making inferences, and summarizing.
  2. Consider how you can introduce these concepts to your students. Brainstorm activities that will engage your students and help them understand the material. For example, you might use a graphic organizer to help students identify the main idea of a text.
  3. Think about how you can assess student understanding of the key concepts and skills. For example, you might have students write a summary of a text to assess their ability to summarize.
  4. Consider how you can differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students. For example, you might provide additional support for struggling students or challenge advanced students with more complex texts.
  5. Determine how you will integrate technology into your lesson plan to enhance student learning. For example, you might have students use a digital tool to create a visual representation of the main idea of a text.

Remember, the response generated by ChatGPT is just a starting point for your lesson plan. Use it as a guide as you create engaging and effective activities and assessments that align with the standard you've chosen.

Step 2: Refine and enhance the lesson plan

Once you have a rough draft of your lesson plan, refine it and make adjustments as needed. Your best tools? Your teacher brain and your expertise! (Along with some AI-assisted tools.) Consider the needs of your students and how you can differentiate instruction to meet their needs. Think about how you can incorporate technology, hands-on activities, and other strategies to engage students and enhance their learning.

Teacher Toolbox: AI Tools

Teacher Toolbox: Templates

Teacher Toolbox: Teaching Resources

Step 3: Identify a way to assess student learning

Assessing student learning is an important part of any lesson plan. This includes a quick check for understanding, a formative assessment, exit ticket or a summative assessment.

Teacher Toolbox: Assessment Tools

Consider how you can use ChatGPT or another AI tool to assess student understanding of the material. For example, you can have students ask ChatGPT questions related to the standard and review their responses to assess their understanding of the key concepts and skills.

Step 4: Review student work and give feedback

Consider asking ChatGPT or another AI tool for feedback on various aspects, such as grammar, spelling, and content. You can input a student response or a common response or mistake into ChatGPT and ask it for some feedback prompts. 

📝 Lesson Plan Examples

Lesson Example 1: Elementary Reading

Note: Text was generated by ChatGPT (unless another AI tool was used and noted). Bold text was added by me.


"Write a lesson plan for the Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.2 - Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text using the Madeline Hunter Lesson Design Framework" (Entered into ChatGPT)

Materials:

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify the main idea of a text and explain how key details support it.
  • Students will be able to summarize a text in their own words.
Time
Procedure
5 minutes
 Anticipatory Set: Activate prior knowledge on the topic by asking students if they know what the main idea of a text is. Have them share their thoughts and ideas, and write them on the board

Share a video to support understanding How to find the main idea and supporting details from McGraw Hill

10 minutes
Direct Instruction: Define the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details. Show examples of how to identify the main idea and key details in a text.
20 minutes
Guided Practice: Pass out the nonfiction texts to the students or pairs. Instruct students to read the text and fill out the graphic organizer for main idea and key details. As they read, circulate around the room and assist students as necessary.
5 minutes
Check for Understanding: Have students share their main idea and key details with a partner or in a small group. Check for understanding by asking questions related to the text.
15 minutes
Independent Practice: Distribute the graphic organizer for summarizing. Instruct students to summarize the text in their own words. Encourage them to use the main idea and key details from their graphic organizer.
5 minutes
Closure: Have students share their summaries with a partner or in a small group. Then, ask them to share one thing they learned about the topic.


As a summative assessment, have students read a different nonfiction text and write a brief summary that includes the main idea and key details. You can use a rubric to assess their ability to identify the main idea and use key details to support it.

Differentiation: For students who need additional support, provide them with a simplified text or allow them to work with a partner. For students who need an extra challenge, provide them with a more complex text or have them summarize the text in a paragraph.

Lesson Example 2: Middle School Science

Note: Text was generated by ChatGPT (unless  another AI tool was used and noted). Bold text was added by me.


"Create a lesson plan for the standard "MS-PS1-1 Matter and its Interactions Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures." using the explore, explain, apply lesson plan framework" (Entered into ChatGPT)

Lesson Plan - MS-PS1-1
Explore
Objective: Introduce the concept of atomic composition and provide students with an opportunity to explore and investigate the properties of matter.
Activity: Provide students with a variety of materials, such as sugar, salt, sand, and water. Ask them to explore and investigate the properties of each material. Guide them to make observations about the similarities and differences between the materials. Have students work in groups to create a chart or Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the materials based on their properties.
Explain
Objective: Introduce the concept of atomic composition and explain how it relates to the properties of matter.
Activity: Using the chart or Venn diagram created by the students in the Explore phase, lead a discussion on the atomic composition of the materials. Introduce the concept of atoms and molecules and explain how they contribute to the properties of matter. Use visual aids, such as models of atoms and molecules, to enhance students' understanding.
Apply
Objective: Apply the concept of atomic composition to simple molecules and extended structures.
Activity: Provide students with a simple molecule, such as H2O, and an extended structure, such as a diamond. Ask them to work in groups to develop a model that describes the atomic composition of each structure. Have them present their models to the class and lead a discussion on the similarities and differences between the two models.
Assessment
Objective: Evaluate students' ability to develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Assessment: Provide students with a new simple molecule and an extended structure. Ask them to work in groups to develop a model that describes the atomic composition of each structure. Have them present their models to the class and use a rubric to assess their ability to describe the atomic composition of the structures.
Extend
Objective: Allow students to extend their understanding of atomic composition and its applications.
Activity: Provide students with a real-world scenario, such as the design of a new material, and ask them to develop a model that describes the atomic composition of the material. Have them present their models to the class and lead a discussion on the applications of atomic composition in real-world scenarios.
Closure/Reflection
Objective: Allow students to reflect on what they learned and its relevance to the real world.
Activity: Have students write a reflection on what they learned about atomic composition and its applications in the real world. Have them share their reflections with the class and lead a discussion on how their understanding of atomic composition can be applied in their daily lives.

Lesson Example 3: Middle/High School History

🗄 Lesson Planning Templates

You know you can ask your AI assistant for lesson plan ideas. But what will those lesson plans look like? And where will you organize them? These templates can provide a framework and a home for your new lessons.

Created by Slides Mania

Created by Slides Mania


Part 3: AI plans lessons and activities FOR you

There are tools out there that will plan entire lessons and activities for you to save you time and get you started.

A word of caution, though ... Don't expect them to get these lessons and activities 100 percent perfect the first time. AI-driven tools like these are really good at giving you a helpful first draft of a lesson or activity. Then, it's up to you to adjust, customize, shorten, lengthen, and make relevant all of the parts of it. 

Example: If it takes you 20 minutes to plan lessons, these AI tools won't reduce your planning time to 0 minutes. But they might narrow it down to 8 minutes. 

Here are a few of our favorite AI-driven tools to plan lessons and activities.

Note: It is always important to review the content created by AI before you use it with students.

Diffit

Diffit (web.diffit.me) allows you to get leveled resources for literally anything. You can adapt existing materials for any reader, generate “just right” resources for any topic and then edit and share resources with students.

How it works: Go to web.diffit.me and enter search for a topic, term or question, enter a url or paste copied text. From there choose a reading level and language and click "generate resources". Diffit will automagically generate tons of resources based on the content you provided. They have an ever growing library of templates and gives teachers a few options for sharing the content with students.

Pricing and terms: Teachers who create their free Diffit account before December 31, 2023 will automatically get free trial access to all the new and upcoming premium features through January 31, 2024. Teachers who create an account after January 1, 2024 will automatically get free access to premium features for the first 30 days from their account creation date.

Check it out: web.diffit.me 

Curipod

Give Curipod (curipod.com) a topic, and it will generate an interactive slide deck for you in seconds, including:

  • Polls
  • Word clouds
  • Open-ended questions
  • A drawing tool

How it works: Once you have a slide deck (which seems to generate 9-12 slides on your topic), you can edit and adjust to suit your needs. Plus, you can add more slides on your own.

Pricing and terms: It's has a paid and a premium plan, but honestly ... the free plan has almost everything you'd want. You can check out the premium features on the pricing page.

Check it out: curipod.com

MagicSchool.ai

MagicSchool.ai empowers teachers to do the tasks they need to do -- important tasks -- in less time. The AI that drives MagicSchool helps teachers to plan lessons, differentiate, write assessments, write IEPs, communicate clearly, and more.

How it works: MagicSchool.ai has more than 40 "teacher tools," or custom-trained AI bots to do specific tasks for you. It generates "educational content that is original, aligned to standards, and customized for your students." It also helps you translate content to 25+ languages and level texts to students' lexile.

Pricing and terms: MagicSchool.ai is free for educators. Schools and districts can sign up for the AI Innovators Program, which includes training, dedicated support, and customization.

Check it out: MagicSchool.ai

Eduaide

Eduaide.ai is an AI-powered teaching assistant designed to help teachers with lesson planning, instructional design, and generating educational content. It offers a resource generator, teaching assistant, feedback bot and AI chat.

How it works: Much like MagicSchool.ai, Eduaide.ai provides tons of options for resources for your grade level and content area. 

Pricing and terms: Eduaide.ai offers a free plan with limited access and a Pro plan ($5.99/mo) for those who want the full suite of tools and resources. 

Check it out: Eduaide.ai

Education Copilot

Need a starting point for your lesson plans? Education Copilot provides you with AI generated templates for lesson plans, writing prompts, educational handouts, student reports, project outlines and lots more.

It has 10+ tools to help save time and create content for the classroom.

How it works: Open Copilot and choose one of its teachers tools, including informational handouts, lesson plans, and more. Add some details on the content you want to cover. Then generate a product. If it isn't exactly what you want, adjust the information you inputted to create something else. 

Pricing and terms: 30 day free trial. After that, it's $9 per month.

Check it out: EducationCopilot.com

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  • Christopher Millsap says:

    How are you getting chat gpt to give you links (to Canva.com resources, etc.)? Free chat gpt will not do this.

    • Christopher Millsap says:

      I see now that you added the comments in bold. How did you find those resources so specific to your plan?

  • john Albert says:

    Embracing AI for lesson planning is a game-changer, streamlining educators’ efforts and sparking creative ideas. The efficiency gains are similar to the innovation brought by the Cisco Router 10000 Series in networking. Both leverage advanced technology to save time and enhance performance. Just as AI optimizes teaching strategies, Cisco’s routers elevate network capabilities. The convergence of AI in education planning and Cisco’s robust networking solutions signifies a transformative era, emphasizing the power of intelligent technologies to simplify tasks and boost productivity across diverse fields.
    Cisco Router 10000 Series

  • bee cee says:

    could you make a get to know you template for my students

  • Heeru says:

    Fantastic resources – thank you for the tips on writing school policies

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