The Options Role Play is a unique activity at the heart of the Choices Program’s curriculum units.  It is what makes Choices units so engaging and dynamic. In the Options Role Play, students advocate different options and question each other’s views. Just as thoughtful preparation is necessary to set the stage for cooperative group learning, careful planning for the presentations can increase the effectiveness of the Options Role Play.

Time is an essential ingredient to keep in mind. A minimum of forty-five to fifty minutes is necessary for the presentations. Teachers who have been able to schedule a double period or extend the length of class to one hour report that the extra time is beneficial. When necessary, the Options Role Play can be run over two days, but this disrupts momentum. The best strategy for managing the role play is to establish and enforce strict time limits, such as five minutes for each option presentation, ten minutes for questions and challenges, and the final five minutes of class for wrapping up. It is crucial to make students aware of strict time limits as they prepare their presentations.

A Choices Role Play – North Korea

Watch students do the role-play activity from Conflict on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea and the Nuclear Threat


Tools for Role Play


Activity: Prioritizing Values in Public Policy
One of our mandates as teachers is to help students become active citizens by entering into the national dialogue on public policy issues. An understanding of values is central to these discussions. However, some students enter the discussion unsure of what is meant by values. This simple values exercise can clarify the concept of values and how they shape policy.

Areas of Concern Document
This tool can be used as check in to see if groups are ready, or it can be used as an assessment at the end of the role play. We provide you with a blank Areas of Concern document as well as a sample completed copy, based on the unit China on the World Stage: Weighing the U.S. Response.

Option Analysis Chart
In preparation for the role play, students in each options group could complete the section of this graphic organizer that pertains to their assigned option. The rest of this chart is designed for use during the role play.

Options Group Preparation Sheet and Undecided Citizens Preparation Sheet
Both of these documents are useful for keeping students on track during the preparation.

The Role Play

Options Role Play Note-taking Sheet
This tool helps students recall the main idea of each option, and the questions they have about each.

Options Analysis Chart
This is a helpful matrix that can be adapted to the specific content of a unit.

Deliberation and Your Own Option

Guidelines for Deliberation
These guidelines are designed to help students understand and practice deliberative dialogue.

Preparing for Deliberation
This document can help students prepare for deliberative dialogue.

Speaker Deliberation Cards
These cards are an excellent tool to keep students on task or to help students set goals during deliberation.

Deliberative Dialogue, Fishbowl Style
This is an alternative format for conducting a deliberative dialogue.

Rubric for Option 5 Essay
This rubric can help students understand “Option 5” expectations as they conduct the deliberative dialogue.

Tips for Role Plays
Learn about ways to ensure a successful Choices role-play or simulation experience for students.

Assessment Tools for the Role Play, Deliberation, and Your Own Option

Assessment Guide for Oral Presentations

Other Rubrics

Self-assessment Student Rubric

Rubric for Deliberative Dialogue

Options Role Play Rubric


Adjusting the Options Role Play for Large and Small Classes

Choices curricula are designed for an average class of twenty-five students. In larger classes, additional roles, such as those of newspaper reporter or member of a special interest group, can be assigned to increase student participation in the Options Role Play. With larger groups, additional tasks might be to create a poster, political cartoon, or public service announcement that represents the viewpoint of an option. In smaller classes, the teacher can serve as the moderator of the debate, and administrators, parents, or faculty can be invited to play the roles of congressional leaders. Teachers can also combine two small classes.

Alternatives to Role Plays

Here are some ideas for alternatives to a traditional role play.

Back to top