Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Hot Seat

Zwiers, Jeff. (2004). Building Reading Comprehension Habits in Grades 6-12. International Reading Association.


Using the Hot Seat strategy motivates students to thoroughly understand a text. The teacher assumes the role of a character in a narrative selection, a historical figure in an expository text, or a subject from a scientific study, such as an aortic valve, a maple tree, a planet, or a cumulus cloud. After the teacher's portrayal, a student assumes the same role. Using the information already studied, the students can examine and evaluate the actions, feelings, and motivations of a character or subject.


  1. To begin with, the teacher assumes the role of a character or subject and sits in the front of the class in specially designated chair called the Hot Seat.
  2. Next, the students are invited to ask questions of the guest in the "Hot Seat". In the beginning it may be necessary to start the question-asking session by saying, "I am Albert Einstein. Do you have any questions for me?" Or, I am a rose bush. I live in the rose garden at the White House. What do you want to know?"
  3. After the students have become familiar with this format, divide them into pairs or small groups of four to six. Assign one person to take the Hot Seat and proceed as described in #2 above. Students are encouraged to ask questions that provide insight into motivation, feelings, or actions.
  4. Finally, whole group "Hot Seat" can be played. The class chooses someone who has done well in the small group setting. This person goes in front of the room and takes questions from the class. It is important before doing this, that time be allowed for both the "Hot Seat" character and the class have ample time to research the character or subject.

Examples of Questions:

  1. How would you have changed the ending of the story?
  2. Why did you decide to get involved in...?
  3. How did you think up your invention?
  4. How do you think you have changed the world?


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