Monday 18 Nov, 2013

Build a Lesson Plan using Improv in the Classroom

This is the third post in a series of three blog posts with Dr. Katherine McKnight, EF Group Leader, teacher and author of The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom. One of the reasons we have featured Katie (aside from the fact that she’s a lot of fun and a true inspiration!), is that she’s a big believer in experiential education. The great thing about improv is that you don’t have to be an expert to get started in your classrooms.

According to Dr. Katherine McKnight, One Word Story and Panel of Experts are great beginning improvisation exercises to start with. One Word Story and Panel of Experts both have a strong focus of concentration that create the kind of context where a student can be very successful the first time they try improvisation.

One Word Story is again, simple complexity that teaches the basic tenants of improvisation: “yes, and”, the idea of give and take, and being a good ensemble member. Even though I have one word, I have to be sure that one word is going to help the story go forward. That’s a foundation to building a good classroom, the type of classroom we need in the 21st century where there’s collaboration, partnership, and students are working together to solve problems because that’s actually what the workplace looks like in the 21st century. Also they’re developing great skills like sequencing, imprinting, prediction, and reflection on what they’ve created.

Panel of Experts is also tons of fun because they’re developing some important literacy skills like point of view, interpretation, analysis, synthesis, and it’s also an effective tool for reviewing content. This exercise also requires students to work together in order to address the point of focus which is being an expert of some kind and speaking on a topic. For example, if we’re talking about the American Revolution and I want my students to review about the causes of the revolution, we’ll do a Panel of Experts. I’ll have four students on the panel: one is Benjamin Franklin, one is Abigail Adams, one is a Minuteman, and another is a British Loyalist. They can start addressing the causes of the war from those different points of view. And the audience is learning at the same time because they’re listening, hearing, and evaluating what they’re classmates are saying about the causes of the war.

We are lucky enough to have two excerpts of Katie’s book, Active Learning and Improv in the Classroom:

One Word Story PDF

Panel of Experts PDF

We’d love to hear how it goes for those of you who try using improv in the classroom. Thanks again to Katie McKnight for sharing her expertise!