Hot Seating is a strategy in which a character or characters, played by the teacher or a student, are interviewed by the rest of the group. This activity invites students to recount a specific event, explore motivation and multiple perspectives/experiences related to a theme, topic, event, or idea.
Before engaging in this strategy, prepare the person or people who will be in the hot seat to successfully take on their role. The person in the hot seat (teacher or student/s) needs to determine who they are in the interview; where they are (i.e., the setting for the interview); and, why they are in the hot seat (i.e., the motivation for their words and actions). Use textual evidence, other forms of research, or personal experience to prepare. Other DBP strategies like Role on the Wall can also help students to be successful in the hot seat. Next, determine whether the students/audience (outside of the hot seat role) are also in-role (e.g., as a newspaper journalist trying to find an answer) or whether they will act as themselves. If the students/audience are in role, they may need support to prepare questions from their personal viewpoint to ask the character in the hot seat, or to research a different character perspective viewpoint to think and work from in the activity. Once the individual (teacher or student) is in the hot seat and the audience is ready, introduce and moderate the activity. Encourage the audience to ask strong questions that are relevant and within the dramatic situation and reframe any questions/add to responses if they are unclear. Work to deepen students’ critical thinking, engagement and commitment to their character(s) by modeling a strong commitment to character and the situation in your own performance.
- How did it feel to step into the character’s shoes/embody the character?
- What new insight did you gain about the motivation of the character from our activity?
- What are the key issues/factors affecting this/these character(s) and their actions?
- Let’s take a closer look at the character’s motivations in this moment. Would someone like to step into the role of _____ (different character name) to answer a few questions?
- Can you tell me more about why you feel this way?
- Who has a different opinion on this topic? What is it?
- Have a group of students prepare and play as a single character to lower the risk level (a group of students represent Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, not just one student).
- READING/WRITING and SOCIAL STUDIES: Have students take on the role of an historical figure, a literary figure, a character from literature or an informational text, or a country or geographic location.
- SCIENCE and MATH: Have students become a planet, an element from the periodic table, a number, or a geometric shape. Invite them to be an expert on cloning or nuclear energy, as way to engage with complex issues surrounding ethics in science.
Jonathan Neelands and Tony Goode