improv techniques – a summary of a BESIG Prague talk

#BESIG The first webinar of the 2 I mentioned here, was by Christina Rebuffet-Broadus, and it was all about improvisational ways to bring spontaniety and creativity into a classroom.

It was a great pleasure to @ttend  this talk, and I left it full of new energy and – yes – creativity. And finally I’ve managed to produce a short summary – in order not to forget all the great ideas shared at the talk.

it was all in the title of the talk – “yes, and..”. Christina demonstrated it very clearly that saying yes gives us an opportunity to move on, whereas  no blocks all the movement and development. She did it by asking a series of questions (simple ones, like “Do you want me to tell a story?”, etc), getting a positive answer and thus moving on to the next question/part of the story. Then she asked the audience to say “no” when she asks a question. The same question (“Do you want me to tell you a little story?”) was answered with a “no”, and so all the communication was blocked!

Christina started demonstrating the improv techniques with a non-verbal warmer: she asked 2 volunteers to take part in the activity, and then together they beat a rythm: 1 person starts beating a rythm, then the second person comes in and continues, then the last person joins them. Such a technique is great to help students abandon all their work-related concerns and shift their thoughts to “here and now” of an English lesson.

She then moved on to the verbal improv techniques. This word association game was called “metronom”, which requires the players to move their arms up and down and saying a word they associate with a previous word every time an arm moves up. if you don’t say a word, you leave the circle.

The next thing was “open improvisation”. I think it may bring a lot of joy and creative e ergy into your class if you have a right sort of students in your class – confident and ready for some experimenting, and having quite a good command of English.. The idea is: 1 students delivers a line – anything with any chosen intonation. The second student reacts to this line appropriately. After 2-3 exchanges the dialogue is stopped – after all, it’s just a warmer. (The lines, of course, can be offered to the students, to ease their task). Christine demostrated the task starting with a line “I need help”, and we witnessed a very dramatic exchange indeed!

The final activity was a “Fishbowl”. For a “fishbowl”, you need cards of 3 types: statements, questions, words (suitable for the context). Students take of each (if they feel they need this support) and start their improvisation.

Such kind of improvisation is great because the task is challenging but still safe (thanks to the cards), the students can adjust the degree of the support themselves (by taking or not taking the cards), and the students take responsibility for developing the scenes.

the second talk was by Marjorie Rosenberg and it was called “spotlight on learning styles”. Learning styles is a topic of great interest for me, so I hope to some back with a short summary of this, too, very soon.


About Svetlana Urisman

I am an ADOS and an English teacher (and materials writer) in a language school in Moscow. I have been an ADOS and a teacher trainer for a couple of years and a teacher for about 10 years. I am keen to share some ideas and materials I've developed in order to take them further and not to lose them. You are welcome to use any materials represented in this blog, and I will be happy to get your feedback afterwards if you take them to your classroom! ;-)
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