Lesson plan: How to separate fact from fiction in a new era of artificial intelligence


ChatGPT has caught on fast because it is free and produces convincing responses to requests for, well, almost anything — from poetry and essays to jokes and math equations. Source: PBS 15.02.23 These lessons were developed by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs in partnership with MediaWise and the Teen Fact-Checking Network, which are part of the Poynter Institute.

In this lesson, students will learn how ChatGPT works, why it could be effective at spreading misinformation and how to identify content created by artificial intelligence. Students will then put these skills to the test to separate AI-generated social media posts from human-generated posts.


Students will be able to:

  • Explain how ChatGPT produces convincing responses.
  • Explain why ChatGPT is prone to produce misinformation or disinformation.
  • Identify content that is created by Artificial Intelligence such as ChatGPT.


media literacy, social studies, language arts, journalism


45 Mins.


  • ChatGPT — an AI language model developed by OpenAI that is capable of generating human-like text based on the input it receives. It uses a deep neural network trained on a massive dataset of text to generate responses to a wide variety of questions and prompts. (source: ChatGPT)
  • Misinformation — false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead. “Disinformation” is false information that is spread intentionally.
  • Lateral Reading — evaluating the credibility of a source by comparing it with other sources online.


Watch the MediaWise Teen-Fact Checking Network (TFCN) video and answer the following questions.

According to the video…

  1. How does ChatGPT gather information and process it to produce convincing responses?
  2. What are some reasons ChatGPT could help spread misinformation?
  3. According to ChatGPT, what three indicators indicate that written content was generated by AI?
  4. What are three developments that will help identify information created by artificial intelligence like ChatGPT?
  5. How can you use lateral reading to check if the content is AI-generated?


  1. What elements make this social media post seem believable? What clues suggest it is AI-generated?
  2. How could you use lateral reading to check the authenticity of the information in this social media post?


Put your new artificial intelligence identification skills to the test. Below are six social media posts. Some are real and some were generated by ChatGPT. Use what you learned in the video to evaluate each one, label each as real or fake, and explain how you arrived at each label. Click or open the document in the supplemental links to access the activity.

If you have access to ChatGPT, ask it to write a social media post about something and analyze what clues would help someone identify it as AI-generated.

Watch this story produced by a student from the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs — “A student offers his take on the promise and perils of ChatGPT

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