Welcome to The Literacy Cookbook

Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction



·     What is ChatGPT?

·      How do we sign up?

·      How can ChatGPT save us time?

·      How can we use ChatGPT effectively in the classroom?

·      How can we share ChatGPT responses?

·      Any cautionary notes?

What is ChatGPT?

According to ChatGPT itself (Version 3.5, July 20, 2023):

ChatGPT is an AI-powered conversational agent developed by OpenAI. It is part of the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) series, with GPT-3.5 being one of the versions. GPT-3.5 is based on the GPT-3 architecture, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3.

GPT-3.5 is a language model trained on a massive dataset from various sources on the internet, allowing it to understand and generate human-like text. It can perform a wide range of natural language processing tasks, including answering questions, generating text, providing explanations, language translation, and more.

The "Chat" in ChatGPT signifies its primary function as a conversational AI, designed to interact with users in a human-like manner. Users can input text-based queries or prompts, and ChatGPT responds with coherent and contextually appropriate answers.

The model's ability to handle diverse conversational scenarios has made it a popular tool for applications like chatbots, virtual assistants, language translation, content generation, and various other natural language processing tasks. However, it's essential to note that while ChatGPT can produce impressive responses, it also has limitations, and its outputs should be carefully evaluated for accuracy and reliability.


I'd add that because ChatGPT emerged first, it has gotten the most attention, but Bard (Google's LLM) now (7-25-23) has more useful features!  So take every suggestion on this page and apply it in Bard.


How do we sign up?

  • Here’s the link: https://chat.openai.com/
  • NOTE: According to OpenAI’s terms of use, “You must be at least 13 years old to use the Services. If you are under 18 you must have your parent or legal guardian’s permission to use the Services.”
  • ChatGPT 3.5 is free.  There’s a charge for version 4.0.


How can ChatGPT save us time?

When prompted effectively, in a matter of seconds, ChatGPT can generate responses to requests for explanations, descriptions, summaries, rubrics, lesson plans, unit plans, translations, and texts of various genres (and reading levels), to name just a few things.  It can also use a rubric to provide feedback on writing.  This review of The A.I. Classroom provides a list of additional outputs.


Watch THIS VIDEO for a 4-min demo of ChatGPT saving time (creating decodable texts to support phonics instruction).


***NEW FEATURE: "Custom Instructions" will save you time, too! Click on your name to access "Custom Instructions," then you can specify things like "I teach 4th grade" or "Limit all responses to 300 words." For more info, check out "ChatGPT Expands Its 'Custom Instructions' Feature to Free Users" by Sarah Perez, 8/10/23.

How can we use ChatGPT effectively in the classroom?

I could write a book on this topic!  In the meantime, here are a few suggestions:



Teach students how to craft effective prompts and evaluate the results.  Be careful!  As noted below, ChatGPT sometimes provides inaccurate information.

Check out "Mastering Prompt Engineering or the Art of AI Whispering" by Sahbi Chaieb, 3/5/23.  This piece discusses the importance of prompt engineering, provides practical examples of prompt engineering, and offers resources and tools for prompt engineering.

This book, The AI Classroom: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Intelligence in the Classroom by Dan Fitzpatrick, Amanda Fox, and Brad Weinstein (TeacherGoals Publishing, 3/30/23), offers lots of practical tools and templates for how to get the most out of AI, including a helpful approach to prompt engineering.  For more info, see this TLC Blog post.



Preparation is a key step in the writing process.  ChatGPT can generate an infinite number of examples.


DESIGN MINI-LESSONS BASED ON EXEMPLARS AND NON-EXEMPLARS: When asked to compare and contrast exemplars and non-exemplars, students must use analytic skills.  Then you can direct them to apply those lessons learned in their own work.  For example, if they notice that exemplar paragraphs include claim/argument, evidence, explanation, and punchy insight WHILE the non-exemplars lack explanation OR merely repeat the claim for their conclusion, THEN they can revise their own paragraphs to include the needed elements. Watch THIS VIDEO for a 5-min demo of this approach.


For a deeper explanation, check out my MiddleWeb blog post: Writing: Let ChatGPT Create Your Exemplars (how to use AI to strengthen writing instruction, with a recommended writing instruction sequence).



·      Students can use rubrics and numerous exemplars/non-exemplars to practice evaluating work.

·      Teachers can use rubrics to score student work.

·      ChatGPT can use rubrics to generate narrative feedback on student work.

·      In THIS VIDEO, I demo how to create a writing rubric and use it to generate feedback on a student's narrative.



ChatGPT can design projects for students to complete.  WATCH "How to Save Hours as a Teacher Using A.I. Tools" by A.J. Juliani, Learning with A.I. Tools, 4/24/23. Stunning 10-min demo of how to create a 6th-grade history/science project and rubric and materials in 2 minutes!





How can we share ChatGPT responses?

In the left-hand bar where all of your prompts are listed, next to each prompt, you’ll see an icon of open box with an arrow pointing out the top; click on that icon and follow the directions.


 NOTE: For guidance on HOW TO CITE generative AI tools, go here.


Any cautionary notes?

1.     The data used to train ChatGPT came from “various sources on the Internet” up till Sept. 2021.  So it is not current.  And it can be biased.

2.     ChatGPT sometimes provides inaccurate information and sounds very confident while doing so.  Don’t be fooled by these “hallucinations.”  Check out: "Can ChatGPT-4 Help with History Research?  I Think I'll Pass" by John Norton, MiddleWeb, 3/18/23.  This is why it’s so important to evaluate and double-check all results carefully!

3.     The creators of ChatGPT (OpenAI) are being sued for various reasons:

·      https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/28/tech/openai-chatgpt-microsoft-data-sued/index.html

·      https://www.reuters.com/legal/lawsuit-says-openai-violated-us-authors-copyrights-train-ai-chatbot-2023-06-29/


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