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Teaching Strategy: Role play

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Jessica Fowles

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of Teaching Strategy: Role play

It is evident to say that the use of Role Play in a classroom is not a typical or common learning strategy. Although it has many characteristics and elements that prove how it is successful. Firstly is comes from the theories developed by Lev Vygotsky that involving 'play' into learning helps students to be interactive and learn in an interesting way. It interests students because it is a fun activity that they can enjoy with their fellow classmates. For teachers, it is a perfect way to view how well the students actually know the content and if some don't, it is an amazing way for students to feed off eachother and expand their knowledge.
the tree of Role play
The Source:
What is Role play?
Role play is a type of learning strategy involving student interaction. Students are required to converse with each other through a performance, to resolve a problem or situation. It is a successful way for students to put themselves in a character and connect with how that character feels. It also is a way of improving student’s interpersonal skills and their communication with each other.
The Trunk:
Why is this successful?
Role play encourages social skills through learning. Students learn to corporate with each other and they easily become interested in the topic being taught. This is because of the personal level the students have with the character they are portraying, plus the connection they have with the other students and their characters. A student at Barnard College who enrolled in a role-playing history class said, “this class tricks you into doing so much work” ((Fogg, 2001) as sited in (Jarvis, Odell, and Troiano, 2002) pg. 2)
It also can help students to understand and accept other student’s decisions and to not have prejudgment or be prejudice. “Role-playing has also been seen to be effective in reducing racial prejudice” ((McGregor, 1993) as sited in (Jarvis, Odell, and Troiano, 2002) pg. 3).
Example 1
In a Year 10 English class. The students have been studying 'Romance' and are reading The Notebook. The students must form groups of 2 to act out the part where Allie has returned to see Noah. They are given a script as a guideline and they are allowed to choose out of two options of how the conversation should end, still remembering how both of these characters must be feeling and the idea of 'romance'. Their options are:
Allie instantly falls back in love with Noah.
Noah freaks out and says things he doesn't mean.
This will test whether the students know how well the characters connect with each other and what they would act like in this given situation. It also will show strong creativity and teamwork.
Example 2
In a year 9 Society and Environment class focusing on Medieval History and the Feudal System. The students have learnt about the 'triangle shaped' hierarchy of this time and the teacher has decided to do a role play activity. The students are put into groups of 4 and are given the roles of either peasants, knights, or nobels/with one person as the king. This means that if a group was given the role of peasants, the 4 people in that group must act out how the peasants must be feeling in any way they like. This is the same if groups are given knights or nobles. The students can connect with the way each of these people, living in this time were feeling. By viewing what other students have done will open up the eyes of the students watching because they most likely would not have viewed the other group in that may and will learn something knew that will improve their knowledge of the topic.
The Root:
The Theoretical Grounding
A clear description of why role playing is effective is stated by Silver & Silver, 1989, as sited in Role Playing as a Teaching Strategy (Jarvis, Odell, and Troiano, 2002) pg. 3...
“The use of role-playing emphasizes personal concerns, problems, behavior, and active participation”
Conducting a Role Play
The Branches:
How do we use this is in the classroom?
There are many different examples of ways we as teachers can incorporate role-play activities in the classroom. It involves problem solving whilst in a character with corporation with other students.
The result of this learning strategy is that the students can successfully recognize themselves and their peers around them. It also is a creative way to keep the students interested on the topic being taught. This is a perfect way for students to connect with the content on a personal level. This teaching strategy can be adjusted depending on upper and lower secondary students. Here are some examples.

This teaching strategy is recognized as an inventive way of practical learning and interaction. Lev Vygotsky was a cognitive theorist who believed in the idea of learning through play helps students to propagate and improve their knowledge of what's being taught in the classroom and build social skills with their fellow peers. He believes that the act of play progresses student's language and public speaking through interaction.
Vygotsky devised the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and is described "as the difference between what a child can do independently and what he or she is capable of doing with targeted assistance" (Lui, 2012). This theory also involves mediation; which is when adults (in this case teachers) helps children to understand cultural and social differences of their surroundings. (McDevit, 2013, pg.220) In role-play, this is clear because the teacher is depicting what the students must show through their character, such as their personality and relationship with other characters. Vygotsky himself has stated "What the child is able to do in collaboration today, he will be able to do independently tomorrow" (as sited in White Paper (Lui, 2012, page 3)).
This shows how role-play is a clear example of an alternate way for students to learn academical concepts in a practical way.
Preparation and Explanation
The first part of the strategy involves the teacher giving instructions about the task. This is usually when the teacher sorts the students into groups and gives them a solution as to what they need to conclude by the end of the activity.
Briefing and Student Preparation
Role Play
This is when the role play takes place. Students are able to connect with each other through dialogue and each other's reactions. The task takes on a massive part of 'the unknown'. Students sometimes can not predict what will happen next when they are performing. As the teacher, this is where we can measure how well they can connect their personal and social skills with the content of what's being taught.
Debrief and Discussion
Once the role play has been completed, the students are required to make sure the conclusion is resolved and clear to the audience. It then is required for them to debrief and discuss what were the successes and what were the fails of their role play. They discuss what should be improved for the next time they do this task or what may have worked better. It is important as a teacher we take note if the students have retained any of the content in which the role play activity involved.
The 4 steps of a Role Play
When creating a role play task for your students there are four steps that we as the teacher and them as the students should go through for this to be a successful learning strategy.
This is a collaboration of ideas taken from (Brady & Scully, 2005, pg. 80) and (Jarvis, Odell, and Troiano, 2002, pg. 3-4)
Briefing is when students move into their group and discuss how they will take on the task. This is the time where the students can prepare themselves and get into their character. They also discuss the relationships with other characters and of course how they will take on board their own experiences and beliefs to enhance their performance as their character.
Brady, L., & Scully, A. (2005). Engagement Inclusive Classroom Management. Melbourne, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
Jarvis, L., Odell, K., & Troiano, M. (2002). Role Playing as a Teaching Strategy.
Lui, A. (2012). White Paper: Teaching in the Zone. Children's Progress.
Teresa M. McDevit, Ormrod, J. E., Cupit, G., Chandler, M., & Aloa, V. (2013). Child Development and Education. Melbourne, NSW, Australia: Pearson Australia.

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