Laughter is the Best Medicine
It's no secret that we are all experiencing inordinate stress this year, affecting our ability to organize, focus, and learn. As the leader of your classroom, you may be seeking ways to help your students manage or reduce these feelings.
As you are likely aware, research tells us that laughter can relieve pain, tension, and stress.
Let's explore how we can leverage the benefits of laughter by bringing some levity to the classroom playing improv games.
Improv (short for improvisation), is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment. As a communication educator, I am a big fan of improv games. Not only are improv games fun, they also help us develop critical thinking skills (such as analysis, interpretation, inference, explanation, self-regulation, open-mindedness, and problem-solving), communication skills, and classroom community.
If you are interested in giving an improv game a try, I recommend The Alphabet Game.
Here's how it works...
Players start a scene with a word that begins with the letter “A”, and follow the alphabet in subsequent dialogue until they reach the letter “Z”. The first player’s sentence/speech of the scene begins with an “A”, the second with a “B”, and so on through the alphabet. The final sentence/speech of the scene must begin with a “Z”. (improvgames.com)
The rules of improv are fairly simple, we do not "negate" anyone's contribution, we build onto the story by adding additional information, being specific, and providing colorful details.
The alphabet game is a great way to take a break from the daily routines of the classroom to have fun and laugh together; but that doesn't mean we have to throw our lessons away! The alphabet game can be presented with a theme so students are challenged to tell a story using facts or information they learned in class.
Some tips for helping you manage the game:
Laugh with your students, even when information is incorrect or absurd
Join the fun and participate in the game
Keep track of the facts presented during the game and have a "true or false" process conversation at the end (continue the laughs)
Communication apprehensive students may feel nervous about taking their turn and these nerves can lead to not being able to think of anything to share or even forgetting the sequence of the alphabet - have a plan for helping these students so they can relax too (ex. write the alphabet on the board or display it on the projector as the game is played and recommend students continue the story that is already being told)
If you decide to give an improv game a try or if you use one already, let us know about it!