Codecademy Team

Differentiate Lesson Content with ChatGPT

Learn effective prompts for creating lesson outlines and materials, and then differentiating those resources for reading level and language proficiency.

Once students are old enough to be reading to learn, a common challenge for educators is making texts accessible to everyone in the classroom. Often, there will be situations where students can engage with the content being taught, but due to being at a lower reading level, or having challenges with processing texts, they fall behind for reasons not connected to the actual curriculum being taught.

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT is a great tool for taking texts and converting them at different reading levels to create a more equitable classroom. ChatGPT can also be used to translate texts into other languages, making content more accessible to ELL students in the classroom.

This tutorial will explore how to responsibly create learning resources that are differentiated for reading level and language. There will be example prompts and shortened versions of the generated text that will give an idea of how the answers were structured.

Creating a Text

For this tutorial, I am going to create a text about the Spanish-American War. I chose this topic as it is an event that is very important in US History, but it is often difficult to fully convey the importance of it in the classroom. To get started, I gave ChatGPT the prompt below to get a baseline for what ideas would be explored in the text.

Prompt:

I want to teach a lesson about the Spanish-American War. What are five themes that should be explored in that lesson? 

Response:

Teaching a lesson about the Spanish-American War provides an opportunity to explore various themes that shaped the conflict and its aftermath. Here are five key themes that should be explored:

1. Imperialism and Expansionism

2. Yellow Journalism and Propaganda

3. Cuban Independence Movement 

4. The Role of the USS Maine 

5. Treaty of Paris and Its Consequences 

By exploring these themes, students can gain a comprehensive understanding of the Spanish-American War, its historical significance, and its impact on the United States and the wider world…

This list is a great starting point, but I want the text created to emphasize how this conflict led to the US acquiring multiple overseas territories, particularly the Philippines. So I am going to ask ChatGPT to add that context:

Prompt:

These are good, in this same format, provide an additional bullet around the independence movement in the Philippines and the subsequent war with the United States.

Response:

Certainly! Here's an additional bullet focusing on the independence movement in the Philippines and the subsequent war with the United States:

The Philippine Independence Movement and the Philippine-American War: Explore the aspirations of the Filipino people for independence from Spanish colonial rule and their subsequent struggle for sovereignty against American occupation. Discuss the leadership of figures like Emilio Aguinaldo and the formation of the First Philippine Republic…

I feel good about these additions, so I am going to ask for a one page entry covering these points. I am going to also ask that the text be at a lexile level between 1080 and 1335, as that is about the average for 10th grade, which in New Jersey, is when this conflict and its impact is taught. Notice that I am very specific in what I ask for, and use similar wording that ChatGPT has used throughout this series of prompts to ensure if knows what I am asking it to work with.

Prompt:

Please create a 500-750 word text about the Spanish American War that examines many facets of the conflict. These include: 
- the Philippine Independence Movement and the Philippine-American War 
- the Treaty of Paris 1898 and its Consequences
- the USS Maine and the Path to War, the Cuban War of Independence
- Yellow Journalism and Propaganda 
- forces of Imperialism and Expansionism in the US. 

The text should be at a lexile level between 1080 and 1335.

Response:

Title: The Spanish-American War: Unveiling a Complex Conflict

Introduction:
The Spanish-American War, which erupted in 1898, holds a significant place in American history. This conflict was marked by a multitude of factors that shaped its course and consequences. From the forces of imperialism and expansionism driving the United States to the role of yellow journalism and propaganda, the war unfolded amidst a backdrop of complex events. This text delves into various facets of the Spanish-American War…

Imperialism and Expansionism:
The late 19th century witnessed a growing desire within the United States to expand its territorial influence beyond its shores. Driven by economic interests, strategic considerations, and a sense of national destiny, the U.S. aimed to establish its dominance on a global scale…

Yellow Journalism and Propaganda:
The Spanish-American War was fueled, in part, by yellow journalism and propaganda. Media titans such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer sensationalized events, inflaming public sentiment and rallying support for the war…

The Cuban War of Independence:
At the heart of the conflict lay the Cuban War of Independence, as the Cuban people sought to break free from Spanish colonial rule. Spain's brutal tactics, including the establishment of reconcentration camps, generated sympathy for the Cuban cause among the American public…

The USS Maine and the Path to War:
One pivotal event that accelerated tensions between the United States and Spain was the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. While the cause of the explosion remains disputed, the incident served as a catalyst for war…

Treaty of Paris 1898 and Consequences:
The Treaty of Paris 1898 marked the end of the Spanish-American War and resulted in significant territorial changes. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, profoundly altering its global presence…

Philippine Independence Movement and the Philippine-American War:
The Philippine independence movement, led by figures like Emilio Aguinaldo, had initially joined forces with the United States against Spain. However, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the U.S. shifted from liberator to occupier…

Conclusion:
The Spanish-American War was a complex and multifaceted conflict, encompassing themes such as imperialism and expansionism, yellow journalism and propaganda, the Cuban War of Independence, the USS Maine incident, the Philippine Independence Movement, and the subsequent Philippine-American War. By examining these interwoven elements, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the war's historical significance and its impact on both the United States and the Philippines. The lessons learned from this conflict continue to shape our understanding of imperialism, media influence

Differentiating the Text

This is where things get really cool! I am going to ask ChatGPT to create two more versions of this text. One at a middle school level, one at a later elementary school level. I am also going to ask it to remove any idioms from the text. This will be important when we move to translation, as it reduces the chance of a phrase getting translated literally and creating confusion (try explaining why, “I’m up for it” and “I’m down for it” mean the same thing to a non-native English speaker).

Prompt:

Thank you! Please create new version of this text, one version at a lexile level between 1000 and 1200.

Response:

Lexile Level: 1000-1200

Title: The Spanish-American War: Unveiling a Complex Conflict

Introduction:
The Spanish-American War, which took place in 1898, holds a significant place in American history. This conflict was shaped by various factors that influenced its course and consequences. From the forces of imperialism and expansionism driving the United States to the role of sensationalized journalism and propaganda, the war unfolded amidst a backdrop of intricate events…

Imperialism and Expansionism:
During the late 19th century, the United States aimed to extend its territorial influence beyond its borders. Economic interests, strategic considerations, and a sense of national destiny fueled the forces of imperialism and expansionism…

Sensationalized Journalism and Propaganda:
The Spanish-American War was fueled, in part, by sensationalized journalism and propaganda. Media figures like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer exaggerated events, stirring up public sentiment and garnering support for the war…

The Cuban War of Independence:
At the core of the conflict was the Cuban War of Independence, as the Cuban people sought freedom from Spanish colonial rule. Spain's harsh tactics, including the establishment of reconcentration camps, garnered sympathy for the Cuban cause among the American public…

The USS Maine and the Path to War:
The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor was a pivotal event that escalated tensions between the United States and Spain. The cause of the explosion remains disputed, but it served as a catalyst for war…

Treaty of Paris 1898 and Consequences:
The Treaty of Paris 1898 marked the end of the Spanish-American War and resulted in significant territorial changes. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, profoundly reshaping its global presence…

Philippine Independence Movement and the Philippine-American War:
The Philippine independence movement, led by figures like Emilio Aguinaldo, initially aligned with the United States against Spain. However, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the U.S. shifted from liberator to occupier….

Conclusion:
The Spanish-American War was a complex conflict, encompassing themes such as imperialism and expansionism, sensationalized journalism and propaganda, the Cuban War of Independence, the USS Maine incident, the Philippine Independence Movement, and the subsequent Philippine-American War…

Finally, we can move to translating this text into another language. To make things a bit fun, I am going to imagine myself as a teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, where there is a large Portuguese speaking community. I am going to ask ChatGPT to translate this text into Portuguese. I am going to ask for these at all of the reading levels we have generated this text in so far. This will ensure that ELL students in the classroom can still access the material as they work to achieve mastery over English.

Prompt:

In this thread there are two texts at different lexile levels, please confirm that you have recorded all of them.

Response:

Yes, I have recorded both texts at different lexile levels in this thread.

Prompt:

Thank you. Please take these texts and translate them. Each text should be translated into Portuguese.

Response:

Certainly! Here are the translations of the texts into Portuguese. 

Text 1: Lexile Level 1080-1335

European Portuguese:
Título: A Guerra Hispano-Americana: Revelando um Conflito Complexo

Introdução:
A Guerra Hispano-Americana, que eclodiu em 1898, ocupa um lugar importante na história dos Estados Unidos. Este conflito foi marcado por vários fatores que moldaram seu curso e suas consequências. Desde as forças do imperialismo e expansionismo impulsionando os Estados Unidos até o papel do jornalismo sensacionalista e da propaganda, a guerra desdobrou-se em meio a um contexto de eventos complexos…

Imperialismo e Expansionismo:
No final do século XIX, houve um desejo crescente nos Estados Unidos de expandir sua influência territorial além de suas fronteiras. Impulsionadas por interesses econômicos, considerações estratégicas e um senso de destino nacional, os EUA buscavam estabelecer sua supremacia em escala global…

Jornalismo Sensacionalista e Propaganda:
A Guerra Hispano-Americana foi alimentada, em parte, pelo jornalismo sensacionalista e pela propaganda. Magnatas da mídia como William Randolph Hearst e Joseph Pulitzer exageraram eventos, inflamando o sentimento público e angariando apoio para a guerra…

A Guerra de Independência Cubana:
No cerne do conflito estava a Guerra de Independência Cubana, na qual o povo cubano buscava se libertar do domínio colonial espanhol. As táticas brutais da Espanha, incluindo o estabelecimento de campos de reconcentração, geraram simpatia pela causa cubana entre o público americano..

O USS Maine e o Caminho para a Guerra:
Um evento crucial que acelerou as tensões entre os Estados Unidos e a Espanha foi a explosão do USS Maine no porto de Havana. Embora a causa da explosão permaneça em disputa, o incidente serviu como catalisador para a guerra…

Tratado de Paris de 1898 e Consequências:
O Tratado de Paris de 1898 marcou o fim da Guerra Hispano-Americana e resultou em mudanças territoriais significativas. Os Estados Unidos adquiriram Porto Rico, Guam e as Filipinas, reconfigurando profundamente sua presença global…

Movimento de Independência das Filipinas e a Guerra Hispano-Filipina:
O movimento de independência das Filipinas, liderado por figuras como Emilio Aguinaldo, inicialmente aliou-se aos Estados Unidos contra a Espanha. No entanto, com a assinatura do Tratado de Paris, os EUA passaram de libertadores a ocupantes…

Conclusão:
A Guerra Hispano-Americana foi um conflito complexo, abrangendo temas como imperialismo e expansionismo, jornalismo sensacionalista e propaganda, a Guerra de Independência Cubana, o incidente do USS Maine, o Movimento de Independência das Filipinas e a subsequente Guerra Hispano-Filipina…

Notice that I first checked with ChatGPT that it still had both of the texts recorded. This was to reduce the chance of hallucination.

A Note on Hallucinations and Accuracy

As with any resource found online, as an educator make sure to verify that the information generated by ChatGPT is accurate and presented in a responsible manner. This also is relevant to the translated texts. While it could be tempting to use this translation tool as much as possible, until you have used it multiple times with limited issues, it is strongly recommended that you have these looked over by a native speaker of the translated language in your building.

Note: To practice using ChatGPT to differentiate content for reading and language level, check out this project: Differentiate for Language and Reading Level With ChatGPT Case Study