By Wenjing Huang, Chinese Teacher, George School
With the debut of ChatGPT in late 2022, millions of users have been using it, including for language teaching and learning. This article will discuss integrating AI (artificial intelligence) into the process of planning a lesson on a Chinese culture topic. The various steps of planning the complete lesson will be presented, followed by my evaluations of the results. The AI digital educational tools that will be used in this lesson are ChatGPT and Canva.
This culture lesson plan is about the coming Dragon Boat Festival in June. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four traditional holidays (the other three are the Lunar New Year/Spring Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Tomb-Sweeping Day) celebrated with a long history in Chinese-speaking countries and regions. It occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese calendar. The rest of the details about this holiday will be revealed in the following lesson plans, slides, and assessments.
First I asked ChatGPT to generate a lesson plan based on the prompt below:
Write a 60-minute lesson plan about the Dragon Boat Festival with learning objectives. The lesson plan’s students are high school students from 9-12th grade in the United States. They are learning Chinese and their Chinese proficiency levels, according to ACTFL standards, are Novice Mid to Novice High.
|Lesson Title: The Dragon Boat Festival Level: High School (9-12th grade)
Introduction (10 minutes):
Presentation (20 minutes):
Vocabulary Practice (15 minutes):
Video/Audio Clip (10 minutes):
Discussion (5 minutes):
Conclusion (5 minutes):
My comments for this lesson plan are:
- Well-written lesson objectives of related ACTFL standards and proficiency levels of learners were given. For my novice high learners, I tweaked these three objectives based on three modes of communication:
1) Students will be able to identify the Dragon Boat Festival, its history, and customs from simple sentences in short texts.
2) Students will be able to present information about the Dragon Boat Festival using related vocabulary and in simple sentences.
3) Students will be able to request and provide information by asking and answering practiced questions about the Dragon Boat Festival and using simple sentences.
- The plan contains a detailed breakdown of different parts of a 60-minute lesson from Introduction to Conclusion as well as including assessments, all with estimations of time length.
For me, from Introduction to Discussion, the lesson plan is more likely for Intermediate Mid or above learners, especially when asking if any learner has celebrated the festival before and what they know about it. For Novice level learners, I will modify such questions in Introduction to simple ones such as “Do you know …? or “Have you heard about …?” in Chinese with a new vocabulary list provided. Next, for the video clip part, I would like to move it to the last step of Introduction as part of comprehensible input. Then I would modify the follow-up questions again to ask Novice level learners about what they see or what they feel by using the practiced structures, or providing three to four choices to these questions for learners to select their answers as an additional scaffolding step. The last tweak is Discussion. For Novice learners, I will encourage them to share what they learned about the Dragon Boat Festival in 2-3 sentences by writing or typing, so that they can prepare first, then speak to each other. Overall, this lesson plan is a good outline or time-saving template so that I don’t need to start the planning from scratch and can adjust part by part based on learners’ needs.
- Video or audio materials were mentioned, but unfortunately no more details were given. It would then be the teacher’s responsibility to further explore this part of the lesson when fine-tuning this lesson plan.
- The above prompt and lesson plan can also be completed in the Chinese language if the input is in Chinese or if you specifically instruct ChatGPT to give its output in Chinese.
My next goal was to ask ChatGPT to generate content to be used as this lesson’s presentation slides. The Chinese prompt that I used is provided below, along with an English translation. I asked it to leave out particular words in order to try to solicit materials for a Novice High/Intermediate Low level lesson plan.
Please write a presentation with eight slides about the date, history, culture, background, related poems, various customs and activities, and significance of the Dragon Boat Festival. The presentation does not need pictures, just a title, a slide number, and an overview of the content. Please exclude the words of describe, explain, introduce, explore from the overview of the content. Please directly describe the content related to the title.
The first time I asked, the output came out as one long piece of information. Because I wanted to transfer the content from the slides to Canva (a site that makes it easy to create slide presentations), I revised my prompt for ChatGPT, asking it to format the content in a table.
Please use a three-column table to make an eight-slide presentation. The theme of the presentation is the Dragon Boat Festival. The first column is the slide number, and the second column is the title, with a maximum of five Chinese characters. The third column is an overview of the content related to the title, which should directly explain the date, history, culture, background origin, related poems, various customs and activities, and significance of the Dragon Boat Festival. Please exclude the words of describe, explain, introduce, explore from the overview of the content. Please write detailed content related to the title in the content summary from the student’s point of view, with a maximum of 100 Chinese characters.
ChatGPT’s output, with English translation below:
|1||Intro||Dragon Boat Festival (DBF) is one of the most important traditional Chinese holidays. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the traditional Chinese calendar.|
|2||Date||DBF is on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is normally in June.|
|3||History||DBF originated in China during the Warring States Period and was established to commemorate the death of the patriotic poet Qu Yuan.|
|4||Culture||DBF is an indispensable part of China’s traditional culture, which is related to the profound origin of Chinese culture.|
|5||Origin||The origin of DBF is to commemorate Qu Yuan’s death and ward off evil spirits and plague.|
|6||Related poems||DBF is related to many ancient poems, including Li Sao and Tian Jing Sha Qi Si.|
|7||Different customs||There are many customs in DBF, such as eating zongzi (rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves), racing dragon boats, and hanging mugwort leaves.|
|8||Meanings||DBF represents the spirit of people commemorating tradition, and valuing family, unity, and gratitude to their ancestors.|
The title and overview of the content for each slide are clear, directly following the prompt. For the most part, the content given is correct and provided in details such as the custom of hanging mugwort leaves, which even some native speakers might not know about. If it is not a well-known custom, as a teacher I might wish to remove it from my lesson. It does appear that at least one detail on the slide content given by ChatGPT is incorrect. After investigating, I determined that the second poem listed in Slide 6’s content is not related to the Dragon Boat Festival. This highlights an important point about content generated by ChatGPT. While most of it is useful and even likely to be correct, there can be incorrect or inappropriate content generated, so teachers do have to be careful when using it, making sure to double check all elements. Overall, using ChatGPT to generate this content does seem to save time, but it cannot be accepted without examination and reflection.
The overall quality of the title and overview of the content are acceptable to use for Novice High to Intermediate learners, but as an experienced teacher I found ways to improve it. For example, for Novice High to Intermediate Low learners, I would edit the content of its history, culture, origin, and meanings by shortening the Chinese sentences and using some most commonly used adjectives or verbs that learners will often encounter. The red characters/words highlighted below are new vocabulary items for this level (they are also given after the sentence in parentheses).
|8||意义||端午节的意义是纪念屈原和感恩祖先。(意义; 纪念; 感恩祖先)|
|3||History||DBF is from China’s Warring States Period. (from; Warring States Period)|
|4||Culture||DBF is an important Chinese traditional culture. (important; traditional culture)|
|5||Origin||DBF is to commemorate the poet Qu Yuan. (commemorate; poet)|
|8||Meanings||DBF’s meanings are to commemorate Qu Yuan and give thanks to ancestors. (meanings; commemorate; give thanks to ancestors)|
Slide 1 and 2’s content are quite similar, basically talking about the date of the Dragon Boat Festival; therefore this table can be continued to be modified and adjusted until it meets the individual teacher’s need.
The next step in our lesson plan generating process is to effectively transfer the lesson content from the generated table above to a presentation in Canva by using its function “Bulk Create”.
The steps are:
- Choose a Canva presentation template and only add one slide.
- Edit this slide with three text boxes, which are title, overview of the content, and slide number mentioned above.
- Add some images related to the Dragon Boat Festival for decoration.
- Choose “Bulk Create” from the left side’s option of Apps.
- Click “Enter data manually” (another option is “Upload CSV”).
- Copy and paste the ChatGPT-generated table into the data sheet that appeared (click “Add text” to add a column and right click a column’s title to delete a column for what you need) and click “Done”.
- Connect data to your elements (in Picture 5): right click an element in your slide to connect it to your data. So for this slide is to right click “title”, “overview of content”, and “slide number” , then connect each of them to the data sheet’s related column.
- Finally click “Continue” (which will show “Apply data: create pages based on the data you entered”) and “Generate (8) pages”.
One thing to point out is that this “Bulk create” feature is available to Canva Pro, Canva for Teams, Canva for Education, and Canva for Nonprofits users. Basic account users can try this free for 30 days.
The last step in our lesson planning process is to create an assessment such as an achievement test to test learners’ knowledge about this Chinese culture lesson by continuing to use ChatGPT and Canva.
The prompts in Chinese below were given to ChatGPT:
- Create 5 multiple choice questions about the Dragon Boat Festival.
|The responses are:
a. 一月 b. 二月 c. 六月 d. 十月
a. 李白 b. 屈原 c. 杜甫 d. 白居易
a. 赛龙舟 b. 吃粽子 c. 放烟花 d. 挂艾叶
a. 《梅花》 b. 《夜泊牛渚怀古》 c. 《离骚》 d. 《七步诗》
a. 祭祀祖先 b. 感恩师长 c. 保佑身体健康 d. 庆祝国庆节
1. In which month is the Dragon Boat Festival usually celebrated in the Gregorian calendar?
А. January B. February C. June D. October
2. The Dragon Boat Festival was set up to commemorate the death of which patriotic poet?
A. Li Bai B. Qu Yuan C. Du Fu D. Bai Juyi
3. Which of the following is NOT one of the traditional customs of the Dragon Boat Festival?
A. racing dragon boats B. eating zongzi C. setting off fireworks D. hanging mugwort leaves Answer: C
4. The Dragon Boat Festival is related to which of the following ancient poems?
A. Plum Blossom B. C. Li Sao D. Seven Steps Poetry
5. What is one of the meanings of the Dragon Boat Festival?
A. Worshiping ancestors B. Showing your gratitude to teachers
C. Blessing health D. Celebrating National Day
- Create 5 fill in the blank questions about the Dragon Boat Festival.
|The responses are:
During the Dragon Boat Festival, what plants do people hang in front of their homes to ward off evil spirits and plague?
What is the traditional Dragon Boat Festival food?
Answer: Zongzi (rice dumplings)
What’s another name for the Dragon Boat Festival?
Answer: Duanyang Festival
The origin of the Dragon Boat Festival can be traced back to which dynasty?
Answer: During the Spring and Autumn Period
What is one of the traditional activities of the Dragon Boat Festival?
Answer: Racing dragon boats
- Create 5 true/false questions about the Dragon Boat Festival.
|The responses are:
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional festival in China, but it is also celebrated in other Asian countries. Is this correct?
A: Yes, that’s right.
Is it correct that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in the Tang Dynasty?
A: No, the Dragon Boat Festival originated in the Spring and Autumn Period.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, people hang mugwort leaves and calamus at home to ward off evil spirits and plague. Is this correct?
A: Yes, that’s right.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, people light wormwood and calamus to eliminate diseases. Is this correct?
A: No, people light wormwood and calamus to drive away evil spirits during the Dragon Boat Festival.
One of the traditional activities of the Dragon Boat Festival is to hang pictures of the Dragon Boat Festival. Is this correct?
A: No, one of the traditional activities of the Dragon Boat Festival is racing dragon boats.
- Create 2 short answer questions about the Dragon Boat Festival.
|The responses are:
Briefly describe the origin and development history of the Dragon Boat Festival.
A: The Dragon Boat Festival originated in the Spring and Autumn Period in China. It was originally set up to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Later, the Dragon Boat Festival gradually evolved into a festival integrating traditional culture, folk customs, flavor food, sports and other diversified elements. Now, the Dragon Boat Festival has become one of the traditional festivals of Chinese culture, which is celebrated and commemorated in China and other Asian countries.
Briefly describe the traditional customs and customs of the Dragon Boat Festival.
A: The traditional customs of the Dragon Boat Festival are very colorful, among which the most famous ones are dragon boat racing and eating Zongzi (rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves). In addition, during the Dragon Boat Festival, wormwood and calamus are hung to ward off evil spirits, people drink realgar wine and eat poisonous cakes to ward off evil spirits, people wear sachets and tie five-color silk thread to pray for peace, play shuttlecock, go hiking, among other folk activities. In a word, the traditional customs of the Dragon Boat Festival are very colorful, showing the folk culture and traditional cuisines of China.
- The questions and correct answers provided are generally acceptable to be included in an assessment, with some caveats below.
- The generated questions include some information that was not covered in the previous designed lesson content, table, or slides. If teachers use this method for generating content, they need to make sure to check that the assessment does not ask students to do things that they were not taught. Specifying to ChatGPT which content the assessment should be based on may help, but there could still be mismatches between the content and the assessment generated.
- Some knowledge was repeatedly tested in different types of questions. Teachers can make judgments about whether the concepts warrant these repetitions, or revise the quiz questions to exclude repeated concepts, while also checking that important concepts were not missed. It might also be advantageous to start from the assessment, designing the slide content based on it rather than generating the lesson content first.
- The five fill in the blank questions were presented like short answer questions, which means the prompt given to ChatGPT could be improved. So the second try with more satisfying answers was below, in which “Please mark the blanks that students need to fill in in each of the questions” was added in the prompt.
Chinese prompt and ChatGPT response:
Please create five fill in the blank questions about the Dragon Boat Festival. Please mark the blanks that students need to fill in in each question.
Dragon Boat Festival is the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar.
Another name of the Dragon Boat Festival is Duanyang Festival.
The legendary Qu Yuan is a patriotic poet from the Chu Kingdom.
Zongzi, the traditional food of the Dragon Boat Festival, is wrapped in bamboo leaves and cooked.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, there are many customs and activities, such as dragon boat picking, dragon boat racing, and hanging mugwort.
For these five questions and answers, in addition to their accuracy, to echo the comments above, it again generates two questions that the content were not taught in the previous lesson slides, which provides two options to either add them in the lesson slides as additional new knowledge to teach students or keep them in this assessment by labeling them as extra credits to give students some clues to guess. For example, changing the blanks to four choices and asking them to take risks to choose the answer that they think is correct.
Following these fine-tuned assessment questions, an organized document can be created using Canva Doc’s selected template.
If you are not satisfied with ChatGPT’s assessment questions, you can also try the Magic Write feature in any Canva design, which functions like a mini-ChatGPT that you can use to type a prompt and it will respond correspondingly. (For free accounts, it can perform up to 25 uses in total. For Pro, Teams account, it can generate up to 250 queries per month.)
Lastly, once this Doc is done, in addition to being able to download it as a PDF, another wonderful option is also provided by Canva: converting to a presentation. So any content created in Canva Doc can be converted into a presentation after choosing a presentation design.
After integrating ChatGPT and Canva into the planning process for this Chinese culture lesson plan, slides, and assessment, my reflection is that AI can be like an assistant for lesson planning. The future of lesson planning will not start from scratch but perhaps from an AI-generated outline. Educators will focus on fact checking, modifying, tweaking, and making judgements to optimize the output for their specific students and context. One of our first tasks to be able to take advantage of this tool is to learn to communicate with it successfully. But we also need to be able to think critically and see the big picture so that we do not risk sacrificing our creativity when preparing curriculum for our students.