Coding with ChatGPT 

“ChatGPT can be like a personal tutor if you use it correctly,” explained STEAM Teacher Casey Moden. “In the case of coding, you can learn from it by asking specific questions that lead to customized follow-up.”

In his “CS I: Object-Oriented Programming” course, Mr. Moden is teaching his students how to effectively use ChatGPT, an AI service, in order to grow their coding skills. The students were tasked with making new displays in “Processing,” a popular library in Java that they have never used before. Since they don’t know this language, they utilized ChatGPT to understand how to code a new window with a colored background. 

The lesson was designed using the “Use-Modify-Create” method. Students typed questions into ChatGPT and then used the basic code it produced to modify it to their needs. With practice, they will be able to create code without help. “We’re using ChatGPT as a learning tool. The goal is for them to say ‘I get how this works, now I can code independently,’” Mr. Moden said. 

Some students mastered the code right away, while others worked through error messages. With trial and exploration, students experienced success before the class was over, with one even creating a smiley face in her newly created pop-up window. The long-term project will have students create games using Processing. 

Teaching the proper way to use AI is important to Mr. Moden because, “the students are using ChatGPT, I want to show them how to use it in a productive way. I want to empower them and give them independence to learn more while being mindful of boundaries.” 

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