The resources below come from a joint project
investigated in school into the use of Role play and debate within Geography
lessons. Although time consuming, they do make for fantastic learning
opportunities. All of these ideas could be adjusted for any controversial
topic you may cover with your students. Below is also a rough guide on how to
run a role play.
How does a role play activity run in
The process that we used
for the role play activities was as follows:
Choose a topic that allows
lots of debate and multiple opinions about that topic (e.g.
should Papua New Guinea continue to exploit its forests? Who was
responsible for the growth and strength of the British Empire?)
Teacher research into the
Select any number of interest
or stakeholder groups (we tended to use between 4 and 6) to be
involved in the debate and role play.
Produce a help sheet for
the students – this may be a sheet for each stakeholder/interest
group – specific to that group, or a generic resource that each
group will receive.
We tended to use specific sheets, with information
about each group and some questions for the students to think
Conduct some background
lessons into the topic with your students.
In the next lesson, have
all of the interest groups on a whiteboard and divide the groups
out to the students, who have that lesson to prepare their
arguments for the role play or debate.
You can allow the students to group themselves or as
we did, put the students into groups before hand. One of the
groups we chose was a group who judge, they got called various
names depending upon the activity (e.g. Newcastle City Council,
the UN, the Government of Papua New guinea etc) but their job
was the same.
This group had to establish mark criteria for judging
the quality of presentation and the ideas of all of the groups;
think of specific tricky questions to ask each group; and at the
end of it all come to a judgement – peer assessment and A4L at
its best! The judges are therefore a pivotal group and we found
that they could “make or break” the lesson.
Set a home work for the
students to find props to represent their group (shirt and tie,
judges wig and gavel etc), a tree costume (to represent
Conduct the role play – we
found that a conference setting or horse shoe table arrangement
worked best and we also put name tags onto each group’s desk.
We also did not interfere too much; we sat with the
judges and mildly pointed them in the right direction.
It was the judges who really took control, directing
questions, allowing the presentation of each group’s ideas,
allowing counterarguments, judging the value of each response,
and recording interesting points made.
Allow the judges to sum up
– including the main points made during the discussion, who made
the strongest argument and why, which interesting questions
Finally, the teacher would
then step in to debrief the whole process.