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Help with Hotseating and Roleplay

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#1 ChrisG



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Posted 29 August 2003 - 10:55 AM

Hello All!

With the prospect of the holidays ending I turned my mind to how I might improve certain aspects of my teaching for next year. At the end of last term I asked the pupils to answer a series of questions designed to tell me what they enjoyed, were bored by etc.

One of the main things that struck me was that perhaps including more roleplay and hotseating would 'spice' up some of the topics / lessons. I thought about how I had used these previously and to my shame I realised that since PGCE (only 1 year ago) I had not used hot-seating AT ALL, and had used roleplay on only a few occasions. Then I began to think how to admit this and get advice - I suppose this (relatively) anonymous forum is ideal!

I would be delighted :D if anyone could illustrate to me how they use these two teaching activities and any topics that particularly lend themselves to them.

Many thanks in advance!!

#2 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 11:47 AM

I would be delighted :D  if anyone could illustrate to me how they use these two teaching activities and any topics that particularly lend themselves to them.

The Protestant Reformation lends itself well to hot-seating. Russel Tarr has a fully developed Lesson Plan on line in which LeoX and Martin Luther are hot-seated. It even includes the Interview Sheet and answers!

I have used the basic idea for all sorts of topics:

Norman Conquest: hot-seat the three main contenders for the throne (pupils); class then decide who has best claim to the throne. Have also run this like an election with campaign leaflets (opportunities for Desktop publishing here), posters, rosettes etc. 'Candidates' make speech, answer questions, class votes (citizenship in action too!)

Have also done something similar with Gladstone and Disraeli (who was the better PM?)

At A2 have hot-seated Elizabeth I (justify policies towards Catholics and Puritans). At KS3 could do 'How well do you consider you have handled xxxxxx problem?

You can 'grill' anyone you like (Paxman style). Have done this with Hernando Cortes and Christopher Columbus. (exploring their motives); Mary Tudor (religious policy); Stalin (on collectivisation and Five Year Plans); Hitler (on whether he wanted war before 1939) (not all at KS3 though)

English Civil War lends itself well to the technique too - though I have never done anything. eg Charles I or/and Cromwell.

First World War: Haig (justify Battle of the Somme)

Seems to me the list is almost endless! The only thing I would say is that serious preparation needs to go into this type of lesson and that if you are the one to be hot-seated then boy do you need to be well-prepared. Kids can ask very tricky questions and you need to be 'in role'.

#3 Barney


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Posted 29 August 2003 - 11:50 AM

The thing with roleplay is a lot of teachers get nervous about it - innecessarily so - and avoid it. One thing I would say is there are a lot of ways you can do it and still feel in total control. For a start you could have a teacher led roleplay where the teacher reads a story and a smal number of pupils have to do the actions in front of the class.

In addition to this you could take on a role. One teacher I saw pretended to have a visitor coming to school who seemed to have got lost. He said that he would go and look for him and went out of the room and got pupils to rearrange the chairs in a horse shoe. Then he returned dressed up as a medical improver and went through his discoveries. He even played on the fact that "the teacher" had gone off to look for him. The pupils were transfixed.

You could also have pupil centred roleplay. After the closure of the monasteries I get groups to act out a news flash announcing that Henry has started to close down the monasteries and they have to look at the three arguments e.g. money, religion, politics. Some great understanding was achieved and demonstrated. With this you need to be clear about what you want the outcome to be. I also siad I would grade them and marks would be lost if there was sillyness. Perhaps the hall should be booked. Also ask to watch a drama teacher they have excellent techniques for control.

With regard to hot seating. I have doen 'beat the teacher'. I have set them HW to write in the back of their books 5 questions about the topc we are doing at the moment. Then some lessons I will start with one pupil asking the questions. If I answer the question correctly I get a point, if I get it wrong they get the point. If they win they get a sweet. The pupils loved it.

#4 Andrew Field

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 12:50 PM

What a splendid question

Added to this excellent advice, I would really suggest you just try it out more - it is great fun. Consult with the English / Drama department for an appropriate prop (fake crown / sword / axe always goes down well).

As Barney suggestions, for effect I'd also make an enormous amount of the change around - something akin to that Stars in their Eyes programme on TV. Get the students ready and prepared for the hot seating exercise and then stand by the door. Announce that you will be leaving the class for a while and the person will be returning. Quickly leave the room and reappear wearing the hat / wig / brandishing the sword.

Goes down a treat. It is also a really effective exercise for the reason Carole suggests - the students do come up with tricky questions and the exercise is all the more effective because of this.

One of the funniest related things was the "Je suis le roi" Norman Conquest exercise, previously mentioned on the forum. Here you have a script in French and can get a dead-pan student to be the interpreter. I prattled on for a minute in French and then the kid goes "Yes indeed." This sort of thing can be adapted immensely.

So much potential here.


Previous thread about Je suis le roi is here

Edited by Carole Faithorn, 29 August 2003 - 02:03 PM.

Generate your own versions of my games, quizzes and eLearning activities: ContentGenerator.net

#5 JohnDClare


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Posted 29 August 2003 - 03:31 PM

A three-step drama-in-the-classroom model

This is not my idea - went to a course on it - but it works like charm with any topic which involves an extended narrative. And it fits within the hour lesson really tidily.

Start by reading/learning the actual facts.

Step 1 - rehearsing the narrative
Put the pupils into a huge circle. Set them a challenge. You are going to start 'Once upon a time...' and then pass the baton to the pupil on your left. They have to continue the [story you have just read] and, after a while, pass the baton on to the pupil on their left. Pupils can say as little or as much as they want - they can even just say 'and' and pass the baton on. They can also 'go back' in the story and enhance/fill in gaps left by other pupils. But - at the end of the day - the class has to organise itself and its telling of the whole story so that the pupil immediately to your right finishes the story and can say 'and they all lived happily ever after'.
Challenge the class to do it properly and successfully. Tell them you don't think they can, but will give them an opportunity. Even Special Needs classes can manage this and take delight in proving you wrong!

Step 2 - standpointing/empathy
Put the pupils into 3s-or-4s, depening on however many key characters there are in the story. Assign a character to each pupil. The easiest way to do this is to number round the groups 1-2-3-4 and than say '1 is Little Red Riding Hood, 2 is grandma, 3 is the wolf, 4is the woodcutter' etc. Give the pupils a short while, in silence, to think about the story FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW, then set a scene in the pub, afterwards, where they are telling the other members of the group their story. Tell the 1s to start telling the story from their point of view, but after a while shout '2', and the 2s have to take over, pick up from where the last person left off, and then continue with the story from their point of view. COntinue like this, shouting out different numbers from time to time. You can have fun with this, allowing some people lots of time, others very little, changing rapidly, or slowly.
Pupils soon catch on what is needed, but with Special Needs pupils it's usually a good idea to select a group which is doing it properly, get them to demonstrate to the rest of the class, and then tell the groups to start again at the beginning.

Step 3 - using understanding and empathy
At this point, put the class into a group again.
Choose for yourself an antagonistic role which takes the story beyond (in fact or conjecture) the events about which the pupils have learned.
e.g. if the story were Little Red Riding Hood, be a Social Services officer come to take Little Red Riding Hood into care (on the groudns that her mother clearly wasn't taking proper care of her).
e.g. if the story were about life in a monastery (e.g. Thomas a Becket or the Monk and the Robber story in my Foundation Hodder History textbook), be a government officer come to close the monastery.
Try to make it something that the pupils would very much NOT want to happen, so they are more motivated to argue against you.
Give the pupls appropriate general roles (e.g. villagers, family friends, etc.) and outline your case. Given what they know, what do they (in role) have to say?
And see where the discussion goes.

I have found that even Special Needs pupils can show deep insight into the thoughts and feelings of their characters in this conjectural situation.

#6 Lesley Ann

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 03:44 PM

The Protestant Reformation lends itself well to hot-seating. Russel Tarr has a fully developed Lesson Plan on line in which LeoX and Martin Luther are hot-seated. It even includes the Interview Sheet and answers!

Ooooh I used this one, it worked a treat!

I dressed up as both Leo X and the Pope and the pupils had prepared questions to ask me.

I said to my year 8 I would pop out of the room to see if the Pope had arrived, I left, then entered as the pope in total role....I never came out of the role the whole time.

at the end of the lesson one little lad said: "I really enjoyed that Miss, but do you know what? I had butterflies when you said the Pope was coming, I thought the Pope was really coming to visit"

WELL the PM Blair had been on a visit to the school a month earlier, so who knows maybe the POPE would come to visit!!!
Carpe Diem - Seize the Day

#7 Richard Drew

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:07 AM

just want to say, what an excellent set of advice. clicked on the topic to add some of my thoughts to the issue, but can't find anything to add. in fact i have learnt a lot reading this and it will improve my roleplay/hotseating lessons

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#8 ChrisG



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Posted 30 August 2003 - 01:39 PM

Thanks folks for such excellent advice - I really appreciate it and look forward to using these ideas in the classroom!

The HOD will be very impressed!!!! :D

#9 JohnDClare


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Posted 03 February 2004 - 08:32 PM

Durham LEA has produced a sheet with some drama ideas at


on drama strategies in the Foundation Subjects.

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