Role playing ideas in the classroom

Written by taylor divico
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Role playing ideas in the classroom
Kids can role-play as individuals, partners or groups. (schoolgirl with cap image by Nenad Djedovic from

Role-playing allows for topic exploration and entertainment, making learning fun for children. Role-playing requires students to implement acting skills to convey a topic or to apply knowledge of a given subject. These activities help children explore and gain interpersonal skills through self-expression for increased social growth; and they offer a creative modality for learning and sharing information. Teachers can integrate role-playing among cooperative-learning groups to establish and apply proficiency in comprehension, writing, listening, speaking and participation.

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Courtroom Topic Debates

Teachers provide cooperative-learning groups with controversial social-studies topics in which students, as lawyers, need to collect information or evidence to persuade a classroom of jurors and a judge to agree with their stance versus that of the opposing team. Example topics include those that review historical or current social injustices, buzz topics such as "going (environmentally) green," or constitutional amendments such as the right to bear arms or freedom of speech. Students can pick roles such as defence lawyer, prosecuting attorney, defence witness or prosecution witness out of a hat to determine which side they are on. Students accumulate research notes, opening and closing statements and witness-questions as a group using resources such as history books, the Internet and student notes to gain specific points of reference to win their cases. Students -- other than the opposing teams -- work on their own cases during group time and act as jurors for the trials of others.

Playing Charades

Students can use charades to non-verbally act out a vocabulary word while others try to guess the word. This assists students in learning and applying definitions. Teachers can review the parts of speech such as verbs or adjectives by asking students to act out an emotion to represent an adjective, action to exemplify a verb or thing to represent a noun. The performing student gives classmates a clue by telling them the part of speech he is role-playing.

Creating and Performing Plays

Students can use role-playing to enhance comprehension by creating a play based on a reading story, with students portraying the characters and re-enacting events that occur throughout the plot. Teachers can integrate art by allowing students to create puppets of the characters for a puppet show. Students present their performance as a culminating chapter or lesson activity.

Famous Person Interview

Students can explore inquiry techniques by conducting posthumous interviews of famous individuals. Students work with partners to research information on historical figures such as Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Students formulate interview questions and responses based on facts regarding the famous person's life, career and contribution to society. One student acts as the interviewer and the partner acts as the famous person when presenting the interview to the class. Students can follow up this activity with an expository essay on the famous person.

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