Chelsea L's Field Experience

Simulations, Role-Play, and Dramatization in the Classroom


“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” -Horace Mann


This week our reading in Larson and Kieper dealt with the use of simulation, role-playing, and dramatization in the classroom.  Simulation involves student response to the environment in which they take on a particular role or personality.  An example is putting students in a real world situation such as the stock market and assigning different roles to different students.  Role-playing has to do more with the actual personality of a person, including their feelings, attitudes, conflicts or values.  This would include examples such as taking on different characters of a book.  The last tool is dramatization, which is giving students a certain role with a script or written role and doing an oral interpretation, wearing costumes, using props, etc.  This strategy often helps the students empathize with a viewpoint or understand an event better.

#theatrical classroom strategies

As I read about the different strategies this week, I really related to the use of role-play, as I feel that this is an especially important tool in history classrooms.  Some examples of role-play that we have used in class include Grace and Drew’s “Renaissance Ball” activity as well as the activity where Grace and Hunter had students take on a character who attended the Constitutional Convention.  I can definitely see how students in middle or high school would respond better to interactive, creative activities like these.  I also personally enjoyed having a role so that I could get into character and have fun with it.  Larson and Kieper do mention the stress that these types of activities places on the teacher because of the uncertainty of student response.  There’s always the risk that students may think the activity is “stupid” or they don’t want to participate on that particular day.  However, as long as the teacher makes the lesson seem exciting and make the students feel that they are an important part of the activity students are more likely to become engaged.


One point that I liked pertaining to simulation is implementing a 4 step process of orientation, organizing, operational, and debriefing.  I think it’s very important to organize exactly what you are going to say and do as teachers, especially when allowing for a lot of movement and interaction within the lesson.  I also like that the authors mention physical movement as a positive aspect of simulation.  I can tell that my students in field studies often need to move around in order to focus their attention, so I can relate to that.  

I also like that the authors mention logistical classroom management concerns such as involving passive learners.  In some classes, students are much less likely to participate and the authors suggest trying theater games and smaller activities to peak student interest.  I also think that the recognition given to behavioral problems of students being noisy or rowdy are important to prevent.  Larson and Kieper suggest coming up with student expectations and reminding students as the activity progresses.  

The last aspect that the authors discuss is assessing student learning and the difficulty of assessment.  I like the ideas presented, including focusing on one particular aspect of the activity that was important and assessing the student’s performance in that area.  Another idea presented was writing a persuasive essay about the characters or situations.  I think overall these strategies sound very effective and role-playing, simulation, and dramatization are extremely effective to get students interested in certain topics.  I am excited about using these strategies in my own classroom in the future

#assessing student learning


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One thought on “Simulations, Role-Play, and Dramatization in the Classroom

  1. Chelsea, excellent summary of Chapter 9! I really like how you pulled examples from student work in the methods class and applied it to the text. Also including the assessment piece, which often gets overlooked, nicely added to your post. Great job!

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