YES...AND Improv in the Classroom

Improvisation is an ideal pedagogical strategy. It promotes literacy skill development because it encourages creation, analysis, and interpretation of text.

The impact that improv has on classroom learning can be directly linked to the current thinking on Social Emotional Learning. When students feel connected and emotionally invested in their experiences, they reach higher levels of learning and understanding.

Active play links sensory-motor, cognitive, and social emotional experiences and provides the optimal setting for brain development. The act of play develops the complex and integrated brain, so essential for learning, during childhood, throughout adolescence, and into adulthood. Therefore, students should have a variety of active learning experiences in all content areas including mathematics, language, social studies, the humanities, and science.

Improv is a valuable classroom strategy because it has both inherent structure and flexibility. Its structure stems from the problem solving process the players must apply to complete each task. Flexibility stems from simplicity; the students create everything that is needed from their own imagination. This makes improvisation a useful tool for developing first-rate writers, readers, and thinkers – as well as building healthy social relationships.

Workshop attendees

Katie McKnight literally wrote the book on Improv in the Classroom...

...and she's been advancing its use with K-12 students for over a decade! Most activities and learning strategies presented in the Engaging Learners YES...AND professional development are based on research that was done for the best selling book, The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning, by Katherine McKnight and Mary Scruggs. (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Each exercise has continued to be fine-tuned through years of experience with actual students in classrooms just like yours.

The skill set that students practice in traditional literacy development activities – prediction, sequencing, vocabulary building, inference, and reflection – are all used in improvisation. The difference is that, in improv, students practice these skills in an active and engaging manner.

Engaging Learners presenters are uniquely qualified to train K-12 teachers in the principles of improv for the classroom and help them identify effective applications in any content area. Teachers leave each session with tools they can use in their classrooms the very next day. Let us know if you’re interested in a 1-day, stand-alone workshop for your school district or conference. Or ask us how you can incorporate improvisation and active learning into your 3-step literacy development plan.