I'’ll start with the bad news. Your first teaching session using hot-seating will feel risky and you’ll be anxious. Happily the good news easily out-guns the bad – hot-seating has a very powerful impact on students’ learning and memory and you’ll benefit too from the boost of confidence because it’s worked and because you’ve been creative. So what is hot-seating?

By far the most common form is when the teacher plays the role of a named individual or of someone anonymous (e.g. a 1381 rebel or a survivor of Peterloo) or of a historian or archaeologist and is questioned by students. Sometimes the actual hot-seating is deliberately short – no more than ten minutes – but I have done a 40 minute session with Y5 (I was beginning to flag long before they did) and longer with A level students. In addition you have to build in time for very careful preparation and for debriefing afterwards to help students identify what they have learned.

There are numerous other variations with more or less structure. One is for students to take the hot seat but, to begin with at least, this works better if a group of students play a group of people (e.g. Levellers or opponents of these new-fangled anaesthetics) to reduce the pressure on individual students. Whichever style of hot-seating your aims are to make the complexity of events and ideas accessible to students and to help them understand issues they otherwise struggle with.

Hot Seating Activities: The Full Article

I've described this technique in full, in a 9-page PDF, covering:

• An introductory example: King John in the hot-seat

• Objectives: What can you help students understand through hot-seating?

• Who do you put in the hot-seat?

• Frequency of use, variations and building in structure

• Props, dressing up and how do you get students to suspend their disbelief?

• Setting Up and Debriefing

• Planning across the curriculum: ‘Do you remember when …?’

• Conclusion

Download the PDF HERE …


Some Examples of Hot Seating Activities on this Website

King John in the hot seat HERE …


Meet Oswald of Ormskirk, medieval physician HERE …


The Great Cheese Mystery – Samuel Pepys HERE …


Why did the Romans want an empire: the Paulinus activity HERE …


Shall we join the Chartists HERE …


The Black Death comes to Allton HERE …


Henry VII – The Survival Game HERE …

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This Technique

Download the Full Article

Example Activities