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Quiet Improvisation: 3 Fun Ideas

February 24, 2022
Author: Nicholas Kurian
Some of our favorite – and effective – moments as teachers are “off the cuff,” which is getting harder to do with super-structured lesson plans and rigid technology.

Improv. The word conjures images of comedy performed as a group in front of a crowd or of raucous rap battles with dozens of screaming fans and participants. Loud, extroverted, competitive – but there is another side to improvisation.

It can be quiet.

We say we love “creativity.” Here are a few easy ways to incorporate the principles of improvisation, quietly, in any class. (Yes, even math!)

1. Sentence by sentence (Improv principle: “yes, and…”)

Pass a journal between two students, having each of them write a sentence and continue a narrative. The exercise can be completely quiet (but will result in laughter). And it is adaptable to History, English, and Science classes. (In science, have the students write an explanation for a phenomenon.)

2. Answer, then question (Improv principle: the warm up)

Throw out a number to the students: 1000. What is the question? 10 x 100? Ten cubed? A thousand “x” equals a million? Energizing activities are a hallmark of improvisation, and this one provides students with the invaluable practice of writing math questions.

3. Video in another language (Improv principle: deep listening)

If you are teaching a lesson on a particular subject, in history or science class, find a video on it in a completely different language, that no one in the class speaks. Play it, and pause it and have the students attempt to translate. They will have to look for context clues. Keep it short, and follow it with a video in English – which they will be ready to absorb.

And how about you guys? How have you incorporated a bit of jazz in your classroom?

We will feature the best answers next week!

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