Introducing Hot Seating to America!

Many United States teachers may not have heard of the term "hot seating" yet, but we envision this creative teaching idea jumping across the pond from the U.K very soon!

“Hot Seating” is a teaching strategy in which either the teacher or student takes on the role of a character from a book or real person and sits in the hot seat. Then the other classmates ask questions and the person in the “hot seat” must answer the questions the way the character or historical figure would have answered.

Background Knowledge
For “Hot Seating” to be effective, students involved must have background knowledge of the character/person. This will need to take place during normal classroom instruction or outside of school. In order for students to acquire the background knowledge, they must do the research/read the book. Acquiring background knowledge can be accomplished through a variety of ways:

  • Classroom textbook/or literature book 
  • Books from the school or public library 
  • Online resources (Encyclopedia Britannica, Explora, Kids Discover, etc.) 

At the center of “Hot Seating” are the questions that the students will be asking. It is highly recommend that you model the questioning process. You want the questions to focus on the personal feelings and observations that the character would be familiar with. It is important that you are the moderator during the questioning period so the questions stay on topic.

Hot Seating can be structured a few different ways:
  • Whole Class- This is where the entire class takes turns to ask another student(s) in the “hot seat” questions. 
  • Small Group- This is where a small group of students (5-6) ask one another student in the “hot seat” questions. 
  • Partners- This is where one student is in the “hot seat” and the other student asks the questions.

One interesting twist that you could do with your class is to have opposing viewpoints as part of a debate. There are two ways to do this. The first way would be to give a student in the hot seat a specific amount of time to answer questions from the audience. Then his/her “opponent” would do the same. The second way would be for both students are in front of the class taking turns answering the same questions (back and forth). This can really help students understand different perspectives.

Extension Ideas

During “Hot Seating”, you could have your students take notes on how the character/person answers the questions. Once the “Hot Seating” session has ended, have each student choose how he/she would like to display what he/she learned. Some choices could be:
  • Make a poster 
  • Write a news article 
  • Create a timeline 
  • Perform a news show 
  • Write a song 

Teacher Tips:

Decide how you want the hot seat to look in your classroom. In other words, decide if you want to do it as a whole class, small groups, or partners. Decide which student(s) will be on the hot seat.
Choose the role/figure that they will portray. Find a "hot seat" for the person. It can be a simple student chair, or a special one for the activity.

You may also want to show the students how to write a bibliography if students are doing a historical figure and are taking notes from various media.
When the research is complete, or the literature book is finished, organize your class and figure out how questions will be asked.
Make sure to help facilitate between the character/person and the audience asking questions.

Check out our Hot Seating resources here.

We hope you can try "Hot Seating" in your classroom. Your students will love it!

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