Print Friendly, PDF & Email

#5 HOT SEAT (Speaking)

We all know how important it is to revise learning and activate the prior knowledge of the students in our class.  When we ask students to share their background knowledge we can also identify any possible misconceptions students may have inadvertently formed.  Here’s a quick (and often fun) way to do it and tick your literacy box on your lesson plan at the same time.

  • Brainstorm a list of topics studied in your subject area, vocabulary words, related fields of study, basic procedures, key concepts or discussion questions.

  • Select the ones that are most relevant/ suitable for your students.  Don’t throw away the rest, as they might come in handy later.

  • Write selected words on index cards (one word/ topic on each card) and place the cards in a coloured container or box.

  • Have a designated time each week to run this activity.  Ask one student to draw a card from the box and give them 5 minutes to write down everything they know about the topic.  If they have no idea, allow a quick Google search or visit to the class library.

  • When the 5 minutes of preparation time is up, the student must speak for 2 minutes about the topic they have drawn out of the box.

You will quickly find out which students enjoy talking to a large group and which would prefer not to speak.  This type of activity also allows the more creative students to make their ‘talk’ interesting by writing poetry, drawing images to share while they talk, tell relevant jokes about the topic or share an analogy that can be used to explain the concept.  Ultimately, it is a chance for students to share their knowledge.  If you are really keen, you can encourage students to give the HOT SEAT SPEAKER feedback on presentation skills such as eye contact, posture and use of voice.  If the discussion question or topic is particularly contentious, encourage your students to write their response to the SPEAKER’s comments and you can share the relevant and appropriate responses at another time.  Don’t let this 7-10 minute activity become a 30 minute argument.


There is no denying that every subject studied in school involves at least some literacy and numeracy skills.  Regardless of the school you work in or the country in which your school is located, you are required to teach the literacy of your subject.  If you don’t have the facilities or ‘time’ to overtly teach reading and writing skills, consider the speaking and listening activities that you can use to improve the literacy of your students.  Vocabulary is an important part of the literacy puzzle.  You also need to remember that the time you take teaching your students to read, write and even speak appropriately in your classroom will save you time when you want your students to read a textbook or write a report.

For more strategies and further reading about teaching Literacy skills in your classroom check out these websites and online articles:

My Literacy Coach Blog:

Read Works:

Purposeful Reading:

Reading Rockets Teachers:

LD Online, Content Area Literacy, Mathematics:


Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.