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“Hot Seat” Teaching Strategies

Janelle Cox

Are you looking for interactive teaching strategies that will help students gain a deeper understanding of the content that they are currently learning? “Hot Seat” teaching strategies are an effective way for students to practice their higher-level thinking skills, while gaining a deeper understanding of the content that is being learned. The idea behind these teaching strategies is that students practice their public speaking skills while they take on the role of a character from a book and they answer questions from their classmates.

The Hot Seat strategy is beneficial to students because the structure provides them the ability to dig deeper and think about what they are currently learning. Here we’ll take a closer look at what the Hot Seat teaching strategy is all about, as well as how you can implement this effective strategy into your classroom.

Hot Seat Teaching Strategies

The Hot Seat teaching strategy helps students dig deeper into a novel or topic that they are currently studying. If students are reading a novel, they would basically take on the role of a character from that book, then they would take on questions from their peers. For example, if students were taking on the role of the character Rodrick from the book “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” then they would take turns being in the hot seat answering questions as if they were that character. If students were studying a topic such as mammals, then each student would choose one specific mammal to research and study, then be in the hot seat pretending to be their animal and answer any questions from their peers about their characteristics, adaptations, or how they can survive in the wild. This strategy is meant to be a fun way for students to form their own opinions about a character or specific topic.

The Benefits of Using the “Hot Seat”

Teachers like to use this teaching strategy in their classroom because it helps students understand what they’re learning. For example, in order to successfully answer questions from classmates, students must be able to articulate what they know about the character or the topic. In addition to that, students learn better when they are forced to explain an idea or an opinion about a concept to their peers. Not only do the students have to understand the concept that they are in the “Hot seat” for, but they also have to be able to talk about what they know about that topic as well. It essentially forces students to look at the information and analyze it in order to formulate an opinion.

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How to Implement the Hot Seat Teaching Strategy

There are a multiple ways that you can use this teaching strategy in your classroom. The most popular way is to have students work alone to research a character or topic, then as a class ask the student questions while they’re in the hot seat. However, students can also work in groups to research a topic or a character, then take turns being in the “Hot seat.” Here is an example of the Hot Seat teaching strategy being used in groups. All of the students have read the same book for this activity.

  1. To begin, create groups based on the students who were assigned the same character as them. Once students are in their groups, challenge them to brainstorm character traits, as well as think of potential questions they may get asked when in the hot seat.
  2. Next, have each group come up with one question as well as a backup question (in case someone else asks the same thing) they would like to ask the other characters in the novel.
  3. Once students have their questions prepared, the groups change and a new group is formed, where students will now have to sit in a group with a student representing each character from the novel. So if the novel has five characters in the book, then there will be one student in each group that represents one character from the book.
  4. Once in the new group each student takes turns being in the “Hot seat” and portrays their character from the book. The students in the hot seat answer questions form their peers.

As an extension activity, students can reflect on this strategy by writing briefly in their journals. They can talk about what they think what went well and what they would’ve changed while in the hot seat.

The Hot Seat teaching strategy is an effective, interactive method to use in the classroom. Students will not gain communication skills, but they will also learn how to ask thoughtful questions and give high-quality answers.

Have you ever used the Hot Seat teaching strategies? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.