1st Edition

The Classes They Remember Using Role-Plays to Bring Social Studies and English to Life

By David Sherrin Copyright 2016
    252 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    252 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    252 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    Learn how to use role-plays to bring history and literature to life! When students take on the roles of historical or literary figures, they develop a greater understanding of characters’ identities and motivations, and are able to more deeply explore and reflect upon key issues and themes. In this new book from award-winning teacher David Sherrin, you’ll find out how this lively instructional format will make teaching a more immersive, interactive, and memorable experience for your middle school and high school students. The book includes:

    • A clear how-to guide to get the most out of role-playing in your class;
    • Ready-made units and lessons to get you started right away, complete with sample scripts, scaffolding worksheets, and assessment rubrics;
    • Templates and step-by-step instructions to help you design your own role-plays.

    The pre-made units, which Sherrin spent years refining in his classroom, cover historical topics such as the rise of Nazi Germany and the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. You’ll also find fun and interactive role-plays based on literary works like The Pearl and Fences.  These lessons will help students at all ability levels to become better communicators, problem-solvers, and creative thinkers.

    Companion Website

    Meet the Author


    Introduction: Playing with Our Minds

    Part 1: A Role-Play How-to-Guide

    1. Common Questions about Role-Playing

    2. Creating Role-Plays

    3. Executing Role-Plays

    Part 2: Examples of Historical Role-Plays

    4. The Aztec-Spanish Encounter

    5. Germany between the Wars

    Part 3: Examples of Literature Role-Plays

    6. Fences, The Pearl, and More




    David Sherrin is an English and Social Studies teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, where he is also the Social Studies Department Chair and the Master Teacher. At the 2014 NCSS Annual Conference, he was the recipient of the 2014 Robert H. Jackson Center National Award for Teaching Justice. He is also the author of Judging for Themselves: Using Mock Trials to Bring Social Studies and English to Life.

    "Sherrin animates history and English by having students stitch together textual evidence to understand the human-ness of people in the past and characters in our literature. By placing students in the center of complex choices, Sherrin is able to tease out the larger questions of the Humanities, including "Why do people do what they do?" Readers will glean important how-to advice on using role-play to build curiosity spaces in the classroom—an important step in practicing perspective-taking and civic agency!" --Kathy Swan, Professor, University ofKentucky and lead writer of the C3 Framework for Social Studies

    "Living history is the best way to remember it. Re-enacting powerful novels and epoch-making events wherein you must play roles as actors on the stage of history is next best. This is what David Sherrin does with his classes, helping students dig deeply into the consequences of human motivation in literature and life. These history makers will, truly, remember his masterly direction of their role-plays for a lifetime." --John Barell, Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Teaching at Montclair State University, and author of Moving from What to What If: Teaching Critical Thinking with Authentic Inquiry and Assessments