This project write up was written in its entirety by Kristin Lizotte, a grade 3 teacher at Kearsarge Regional School in New Hampshire:

The Background

I will admit I was very skeptical about using Chat GPT, despite the wave of emails and articles claiming that it would make my job easier. I had tried to search for project ideas using ChatGPT but all that came back were very traditional (and boring) lesson plans. Then one day I came across a Facebook post by Trevor Muir, an educator I follow, encouraging teachers to try a tool he developed that would help to make planning a project based learning unit more efficient. Despite my doubts, I downloaded the tool he developed and much to my surprise it produced a great result. This led me to realize that the wording of the search request is crucial when using Chat GPT, and makes all the difference. 

I teach third grade, and one of my district’s social studies topics is to learn about the history of the people indigenous to New Hampshire (the Abenaki, before 1600 and the arrival of Europeans; the content of this project focused on the history only). I wanted to create a meaningful and respectful project that would engage my students, and had been struggling a bit to find a just right driving question. I copied and pasted the language from Muir’s guide (along with the project-specific language for what I wanted to do) and with a few more clarifying prompts from me, I had a great driving question with possible entry events and public products, saving me time. My driving question was: What can we learn from Abenaki stories and traditions about taking care of our planet today?

The Implementation

For my entry event I used pictures of Abenaki artifacts from the NH Historical Society’s great website, and did a “Notice and Wonder” activity with the pictures spread out around the room. This led to a set of great questions from my students, and also important connections between an artist in residence program we had recently completed with two members of the Wampanoag tribe. I then presented the driving question, telling the students that we would need to find a way to share what we learned in some type of museum exhibit that would be viewed by the school community, our families, and the public on a website dedicated to this topic. 

This led to many more questions, both about what information we needed to know about the Abenaki, as well as how we would create a public product. We had two lists going at this point: What we needed to know about the Abenaki way of life and a list of possible ways we could share what we learned. 

The class decided to divide into groups based on their questions (getting food, shelter, arts and culture/storytelling, clothing, life throughout the seasons). Each group did their own research, and then shared what they learned with the class through a presentation of posters. 

After the research was completed, we had important class discussions on what it means to take care of the planet, what all of the research had in common, and how we could answer the driving question. The class came up with five big ideas: the Abenaki only used natural materials, they took only what they needed from nature and not too much, they used all of a resource and didn’t waste, they showed gratitude and appreciation, and they learned and solved problems by working together. 

We decided the museum exhibits would focus on each of these five ideas, and student groups were created based on their individual interests. Groups then made a plan for how they would exhibit their topic (we had a posted list with ideas the class had brainstormed). One group created two board games to teach others, and the other groups had a combination of Google Slide presentations; models of artifacts made from fabric, natural materials, and clay; question and answer cards; and posters. 


Their final exhibits were amazing, and they were so proud to share their learning with others. As adults and children moved through our exhibits the third graders were knowledgeable guides and it was clear how much the children enjoyed the project and learned from it. Honestly, the museum was wonderful, but the best parts of the project were the small group and whole class discussions about the history of the Abenaki way of life and the connection to the driving question. These discussions were clear evidence of student learning, and how they moved beyond a recitation of basic facts but instead were able to grapple with big ideas. 

The Transformation

How was our learning transformed as a result of this project? 

For my students…the engagement in this project was extremely high. They learned not only research skills and basic facts about the history of the Abenaki, but they used higher order thinking skills as they discussed what caring for the planet actually means, what all of the information from the research groups had in common, and how they would represent each big idea so others would understand it. They were able to demonstrate what they learned by creating museum exhibits not just to share facts, but to show the big ideas they came up with about the connection between the Abenaki way of life and caring for the Earth. 

For me…I will now be using Chat GPT when planning a project. Having a tool to optimize my search for a meaningful project idea has made this an efficient way to plan my projects. I can get ideas for a driving question, entry event, and public product, and then adapt this to meet the needs of my students. 

Get in touch with Kristin to learn more about the project and how you can bring a similar experience to your learners: