Improv All Kinds of Classrooms

August 13, 2014 at 7:21 AM Leave a comment

Improv class = improve, right? That was my hope, and that of my family naturally.

This summer was deliberately free of ‘improve your science teaching’ reading and professional development. Instead, I went with what would be fun. For me. And a little bit scary too, at the lacy edge of my comfort zone.

I thought maybe I could get some improv fun into the classroom too, all part of capturing their imaginations and rattling them down the funnel to really wanting to know how the world works.

The big take-away from four days with the Bay Area Theater Sports workshop was permission to relax a little and leave more room for me to improvise during teaching. Over-planning is a real risk for me and for my poor students.

Instead, I’m going to make an ‘ideas box’ of index cards with quick, re-usable activities to mix things up, and use a broader stroke with lesson plans – the overall objective (and equipment sorted) but with room to be flexible depending on the day, the class and me. Yes, there will be structure – behavior expectations, academic objectives – but also some room to play with ideas, like mixing watercolors on a wetted area within a bigger painting.

I love the overlap of disciplines, it’s where the most interesting ideas come from. So improvisation + science teaching = all kinds of ideas for

  • learning names
  • bonding the class together kindly
  • cultivating a climate of creativity and innovation (very Common Core and NGSS…)
  • failing and trying again
  • accepting and supporting others
  • noticing the world more acutely,
  • making links between disparate objects and ideas,
  • telling interesting and satisfying stories easily,
  • thinking laterally,
  • performing in front of an audience,

Want to get the specific activities? Check out this link to Patricia Ryan Madsen’s Improv Class NOTES BATS August 2014, her book ‘Improv Wisdom‘, and if you want to take an improv class yourself, check out Bay Area Theater Sports (BATS) based in Fort Mason, San Francisco.


Entry filed under: Class Management, Creativity, Curiosity, Inquiry and critical thinking, Professional Development, Reflections, Starting the School Year, Workshop Reports. Tags: , , , .

Analogies to Assuage August Anxiety Dreams Getting started with notebooks in science

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