Performing in the Classroom: Effective Role-Play for Learning

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"
"If you build it, they will come."
"Show me the money!"
"Life is like a box of chocolates..."
"You can't handle the truth!"
"I see dead people!"
"Just keep swimming!"

As we all grew up watching movies, we dreamed of stepping into the roles that filled the screens.  Of course, I wanted to be Baby, dancing with Johnny and defying my parents to have the summer romance of a lifetime.  And no matter how much of an extrovert or introvert we are, we each have a tiny part of us that simply wants to control the stage.  

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."

So how can we allow students the opportunity to star in our classroom?
Interactive lectures can be so much more engaging when the students are acting out the characters from history.  And keep in mind, History is relative.  The truth will never be known, so we can each contribute our theories on life in those times to help us better understand what may have been!

Here are some ideas for reenacting history in your Interactive Classroom:
  • Use Role Cards to have students step into history as you are covering specific topics.  Students can read this provided information to make sure they share the key facts for your course.
  • Utilize Plays or other Performance Scripts to allow students the opportunity to play leading roles in historic events.  These are best for larger topics where greater time can be afforded for preparation and rehearsal.
  • Assign Historic Figures to students, allowing them to research and create their interpretation of that significant person from history.  Be sure to check their information prior to performance.
  • Encourage project topic Presentations where students can perform their content in the manner of their choosing.  You may suggest Skits, Musical Performances, Talk Shows, or other interactive approaches for presenting the content.
  • Allow students to step into history by Projecting Scenes from history and encouraging each student to contribute their ideas on what it would have been like to live in that time.
  • Assign Caricatures and Meet & Greets where students can individually represent famous people and can circulate the classroom to meet others from their time period.
Encouraging activity is a great tool in the classroom, allowing students to live their content rather than simply hearing it presented to them on a daily basis.  What is better for reinforcement than to have actually experienced it for yourself?!

Need some interactive classroom resources to let the actors in your students play the roles of their lifetime?  Take a look at these favorites:
And one of my favorites for remembering the Chinese Dynasties for WHAP: You have to watch this! (These are not my students, but a number of variations can be found on Youtube.  Simply search WHAP Chinese Dynasties!)
Happy Teaching!

Michele Luck

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