Monday, June 6, 2011

The Hot Seat Strategy

      The Hot Seat is a role-playing strategy that encourages students to build upon comprehension skills. It is a very popular way to promote literature and keep students pre-occupied with the story selections used most frequently in a drama or a literature classroom. Students may also learn to refine their oral language skills while pretending to be someone of an alternative time period/culture depending on the characters selected.
      The instructor chooses a story that his or her students must read over carefully and then selects one or two characters from it for his students to portray in the hot seat. Some teachers allow their students to freely select a character from their reading assignment that they find interesting. Students who are not assigned to the hot seat are required to compose thoughtful questions to ask the student who is assuming a new identity. This strategy requires more than convincing theatrics in order to portray their persona effectively. The student sitting in the “hot seat” must also research their character carefully so that he or she will also be able to answer questions accurately. Students are encouraged to ask questions that may not be based upon the story, but upon the opinions or habits of the character according to his or her history or culture as well.
How to prepare for this activity:
1.     Study the background history of the literature, author and character that you will be pretending to be.
2.     Create a costume or prompts that accurately reflect the time period in which your character lives.
3.     Think about and prepare to share important facts about your character before sitting in the hot seat.
4.     Answer questions and prepare a brief speech about the your character and present your answers and story in the first-person.
5.     Remain in your role during all of your presentation. Keep in character as long as you are in the hot seat.
6.     If another student is talking about your character, be sure to clarify any misunderstandings you may think he has concerning your role in the literature.
      When teachers are working with younger audiences, they may decide to take the “hot seat” themselves. Small children love to pretend and this activity livens up a story for them in a very unique fashion. Teachers may choose a historical character in order to review more than just the story their students have read. The ‘’hot seat’’ is an excellent way to introduce unique objects or concepts that represent are particular era. Even science may be introduced to a classroom through the portrayal of a famous scientist in the hot seat. It is by far a greater advantage to choose a persona who you are very familiar with. This will make the “acting out” of your character seem natural to your audience. Challenge your young readers to research their questions before interacting with a performer in a “hot seat.” If you find this strategy successful and educational, you may even consider making it an annual event and acquiring a formal costume to enhance your student’s experiences.

all articles, photographs and lesson plans are copyrighted 2011 by Grimm

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