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Two ChatGPT lesson plans

I use ChatGPT mainly to produce or rewrite written texts, sometimes asking it to add exercises which I then edit as necessary. I have so far experimented with gap-fill, questions in the target language or English, and multiple-choice questions. Exercises are satisfactory, though lack the subtlety a teacher can bring in terms of tailoring to the specific class and what they already know. But there is no doubt that ChatGPT is a great time-saver.

Having watched a Joe Dale screencast on resource creation with ChatGPT, I thought I would see how good it is at designing a lesson plan. Teachers in training should find these examples interesting and a useful source of discussion, notably when considering the PPP approach (Presentation-Practce-Production) and communicative methodology. 

I used the free version of ChatGPT, but was invited to try out ChatGPT4 during my conversation.

So below is the first prompt I used. Note that ChatGPT understands CEFR levels and ACTFL levels for US teachers.

Write a lesson plan using task-based methodology, to practise using the perfect tense in French. level A2, for 14-16 year-olds.

And here is the plan it produced (copied and pasted from ChatGPT).

Lesson Plan: Practising the Perfect Tense in French

Level: A2  
Age Group: 14-16 years old  
Duration: 60 minutes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to form and use the perfect tense (passé composé) in French to describe past actions and experiences.

- Whiteboard and markers
- Handouts with exercise sheets
- Audio recording or video clip in French using the perfect tense
- Flashcards with verbs and time expressions
- Internet access for research tasks (optional)

Lesson Outline:

1. Warm-Up (10 minutes)
   - Activity: "Two Truths and a Lie"
     - Each student writes down two true statements and one false statement about what they did last weekend using the perfect tense. For example:
       - J'ai mangé une pizza.
       - J'ai vu un film.
       - J'ai écrit un livre.
     - Students read their statements to the class, and the class guesses which one is the lie.
   - Purpose: To activate prior knowledge of the perfect tense and engage students in the topic.

2. Presentation (15 minutes)
   - Teacher Explanation:
     - Review the formation of the perfect tense using avoir and être as auxiliary verbs. Highlight the past participle forms and agreement rules with être.
     - Provide examples on the whiteboard, such as:
       - J'ai parlé (I spoke)
       - Tu as fini (You finished)
       - Il est allé (He went)
       - Elle est venue (She came)
   - Listening Activity:
     - Play an audio recording or video clip where speakers use the perfect tense to talk about their past experiences. (My note: the teacher could talk about what thye did last weekend or during a holiday.)
     - Students note down any verbs they recognize in the perfect tense.

3. Task Preparation (10 minutes)
   - Activity: "Verb and Time Expression Match"
     - Distribute flashcards (my note: or pieces of paper) with various verbs and time expressions (hier, la semaine dernière, ce matin, etc.).
     - In pairs, students match verbs with appropriate time expressions and create sentences in the perfect tense.
     - Example: Hier, j'ai joué au foot. (Yesterday, I played soccer.)

4. Main Task (20 minutes)
   - Activity: "A Day in the Life"
     - Students work in small groups to create a short narrative about a fictional day in the life of a character, using the perfect tense. They should include a variety of actions and events.
     - Each group writes their narrative on a large sheet of paper or digitally if technology is available.
     - Groups present their narratives to the class.

5. Post-Task (5 minutes)
   - Activity: Peer Review
     - After each group presentation, other students ask questions about the narrative using the perfect tense.
     - Example: "Qu'est-ce qu'il a mangé pour le déjeuner?" (What did he eat for lunch?)
   - Purpose: To reinforce comprehension and encourage interactive use of the perfect tense.

6. Review and Homework (5 minutes)
   - Review:
     - Summarise the key points of the lesson, emphasizing the formation and use of the perfect tense.
     - Answer any remaining questions from students.
   - Homework:
     - Assign a writing task where students describe a memorable day they had using at least 10 sentences in the perfect tense.
     - Example: "Le jour où je suis allé à Disneyland..."

- Monitor participation in class activities.
- Evaluate the group narratives for correct use of the perfect tense.
- Review the homework assignment for correct tense usage and provide feedback.

This lesson plan incorporates a task-based approach by engaging students in meaningful activities that require the use of the perfect tense, thereby enhancing their comprehension and application of the grammar point in context.


Now, you might question wherther this is really a 'task-based' lesson, or even a very communicative one. There is no real purpose involved or need to communicate. Although ChatGPT seems to know broadly how a task-based lesson might be structured (e.g. pre-task, task, post-task), it does not grasp the nature of task-based teaching, at least in this example. The suggested activities are largely about rehearsing language - practice, rather than real communication. Nevertheless, with the right class, this is a reasonable (and low-prep) lesson plan.

Have you tried getting ChatGPT to design a lesson plan? As Joe mentioned in the video I referred to above, ChatGPT may not give you the perfect lesson plan by any means, but it could easily encourage you to come up with variations. And if you are lacking in inspiration, ChatGPT may be a decent starting point for a fresh lesson.

The second prompt requested a PPP-style lesson and ChatGPT produced the lesson below. Solid, but not terribly interesting or motivational. A decent enough lesson for a highly motivated, quite able class. 

Lesson Plan: Introducing the Perfect Tense in French

Level: A1  
Age Group: 13-year-olds  
Duration: 60 minutes  
Topic: The Perfect Tense (Passé Composé)

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to form and use the perfect tense with the auxiliary verb "avoir" to describe simple past actions.

- Whiteboard and markers
- Flashcards with verbs and images
- Handouts with exercise sheets
- Audio recording or video clip in French using the perfect tense
- Simple story text or comic strip in French

Lesson Outline:

Presentation (15 minutes)

1. Introduction to the Perfect Tense
   - Explanation: 
     - Introduce the concept of the perfect tense (passé composé) and explain that it is used to talk about past actions.
     - Explain the structure: subject + "avoir" conjugated + past participle.
   - Examples on the Whiteboard:
     - J'ai parlé (I spoke)
     - Tu as fini (You finished)
     - Il a joué (He played)
     - Nous avons mangé (We ate)
   - Formation of Past Participles:
     - For regular -er verbs: parler → parlé
     - For regular -ir verbs: finir → fini
     - For regular -re verbs: attendre → attendu
   - Listening Activity:
     - Play an audio recording or video clip where speakers use the perfect tense in simple contexts.
     - Students listen and identify the verbs in the perfect tense.

Practice (20 minutes)

2. Controlled Practice
   - Activity: "Fill in the Blanks"
     - Provide handouts with sentences missing the past participles.
     - Students fill in the blanks with the correct form of the past participles.
     - Example: "Hier, j'ai ______ (manger) une pizza." → "Hier, j'ai mangé une pizza."
   - Activity: "Verb Match-Up"
     - Distribute flashcards with infinitive verbs and past participles.
     - Students work in pairs to match the infinitive verbs with their correct past participles.
     - Check answers as a class and practice pronunciation.

3. Semi-Controlled Practice
   - Activity: "Sentence Formation"
     - Provide students with subject and verb cards. 
     - Students form sentences using the perfect tense and share them with the class.
     - Example: "Je" + "manger" → "J'ai mangé."
   - Activity: "Picture Descriptions"
     - Show pictures depicting various activities.
     - Students write sentences describing what the people did in the pictures using the perfect tense.
     - Example: A picture of a boy playing soccer: "Il a joué au foot."

Production (20 minutes)

4. Free Practice
   - Activity: "My Weekend"
     - Students write a short paragraph about what they did last weekend using the perfect tense.
     - Provide prompts if needed, such as:
       - Samedi, j'ai…
       - Dimanche, j'ai…
     - Example: "Samedi, j'ai regardé un film. Dimanche, j'ai visité mes grands-parents."
   - Activity: "Role-Play"
     - In pairs, students prepare a short dialogue about their weekends, using the perfect tense.
     - Each pair presents their dialogue to the class.

5. Review and Feedback
   - Class Review:
     - Summarize the key points of the lesson.
     - Write a few student sentences on the board and correct them as a class.
   - Feedback:
     - Provide positive feedback and gentle corrections where necessary.
     - Encourage students to ask questions if they have any doubts.

6. Homework:
   - Assign a worksheet where students complete sentences in the perfect tense.
   - Ask students to write five sentences about their previous weekend using the perfect tense, similar to the in-class activity.

- Monitor participation in class activities.
- Evaluate the completion and accuracy of the fill-in-the-blank and match-up activities.
- Assess the written paragraphs and role-play dialogues for correct use of the perfect tense.
- Review the homework assignment for correct tense usage and provide feedback.

This lesson plan follows the Presentation Practice Production (PPP) methodology, ensuring students first understand the concept and structure of the perfect tense, then practice it in controlled settings, and finally produce it independently in a more free-form context.

This second lesson fits the PPP paradigm, but, I suggest, assumes a good degree of aptutude from the class. This would not be a good lesson for many mixed-proficinecy classes with lower motivation. What do you think?


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