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Herod hotseats

It is not often you discover a simple technique that's useful in the majority of lessons. This happened to me after attending a local drama course. "Hotseating" involves the class teacher, a pupil or support staff taking the role of an important character connected to the learning and other pupils asking them exacting questions.

I've had the joy of hotseating as King Herod in RE. I made sure I was well informed about Herod and researched his personal history, lifestyle and interests using the Bible, some other contemporary sources and the internet. I came to the conclusion that Herod was more maligned than perhaps he deserved and decided to argue this viewpoint.

Once you're on the hotseat, you're entirely alone (no friends to phone) and you have no idea what will be asked. I practised at home with family members thinking up intriguing questions and demanding a vast amount of very personal information.

Children can think up questions cold or can be set a homework task to devise them before the lesson. On the day of the interview, they asked fascinating and perceptive questions. Some asked for factual information:

"Which parts of the country are you king over?"; while others showed an interest in motive and character: "How do you manage to sleep each night after what you've done?"; "Will you be seeking revenge against the Wise Men?"

Hotseating is a useful assessment tool and works well in the plenary session of many literacy and numeracy lessons. In the past few weeks I've seen a Year 2 pupil hotseating as the Lighthouse Keeper worried about his lack of lunch, and a Year 4 pupil hotseating as a prime number. Pupils love to be in the hotseat and most teachers and headteachers do too.

Mike Beale is headteacher, Holland Moor Primary School, Cornbrook, Skelmersdale Send in your contributions - up to 300 words - for Teacher to Teacher. We pay pound;50 for the ones we print. Remember to add your job title, school and LEA. See postal and email address on page 3

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