About the Authors

Carrie Lobman and Matthew Lundquist are the Authors of Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum.

Carrie Lobman, EdD is Assistant Professor of Education at The Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. She is the director of the Developing Teachers Fellowship Program at the East Side Institute. Send an email to Carrie

Friday, April 18, 2008

Improvised Introductions

Every year I attend the conference of the American Educaitonal Research Association, which has over 20,000 members (that is an awful lot of educational researchers). This year I also presented a pre-conference event titled CULTURAL HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON PLAY, IMAGINATION, CREATIVITY IN DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING sponsored by the Cultural Historical Special Interest Group of AERA and organized by Lois Holzman and Ana Shane. In addition to my presentation on the Developing Teachers Fellowship Program that I direct at the Eastside Institute in New York City, my colleague Tony Perone and I also led the group in an improvised warm-up/introduction game. This was interesting to plan since this was not a performance conference or workshop. People came expecting something resembling a normal conference enviornment where the presenters present (usually with the aid of a powerpoint) and the audience listens and then asks questions. Tony and I wanted to get the group playing, imagining and creating together.

Here is what we did. We started with a game of Sound Ball (from Unscripted Learning). In Sound Ball everyone stands in a circle and one person starts by connecting to someone across the circle (through eye contact mostly) and passing them a ball of energy that has a sound and a movement connected to it. So, I might pass Joe a bouncy ball that says, "budump, badump, badump). He "catches" the ball by looking me in the eye and imitating my sound and catching my ball. He then transforms it into a new sound and ball and passes it elsewhere.

We did that for a few minutes and then we advanced it. Now, instead of passing the energy, the person who has it and the new person share the energy for a few moments in the middle of the circle. So, I might walk towards Tabitha shile tossing a very light ball of energy in the air and saying "woooo, woooo, woooo." Tabitha joins me in the middle and we both toss the light ball and say "wooo, wooo, wooo" while looking into each others eyes. Eventually I leave her and go to her spot in the circle and she transforms the sound and energy and goes towards someone else.

Finally, after had done that a while. We had people do the same activity except the sound and movement now said something about you (the person with the energy). For example, when it was my turn I made the sound of a computer keyboard and walked into the middle saying, "Carrie...writer, Carrie...writer, Carrie...writer). Mary then joined me in the middle and shared my "Carrie...writer" refrain for a while until I went back to my spot and she made a new offer.

It was a really fun and intimate way to begin to get to know each other before we began a day of conversation on play and creativity. Interestingly, after we had talked for several hours people spontaneously begin introducing themselves in a more traditional way, but by then we were old playmates.

No comments: