Teaching Improv to Improve Learning

Teaching Improv to Improve Learning

July 31, 2007


EDITORS NOTE: Professor Lobman may be contacted at 732-932-7496, ext. 8116, or at lobman@rci.rutgers.edu.



New Brunswick, N.J. Carrie Lobman, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has trained more than 1,000 teachers in New Jersey and New York on how to use improvisation as a teaching technique.

Improvisation opens up the possibility that lessons and communication with students can break away from the scripts we are used to, Lobman says. Improv is unusual you do and say unexpected things. I believe that is what is needed for learning and development.

In addition to the training and research Lobman has conducted, she knows firsthand the benefits of improvisation. As a former teacher in New York City, she turned to theatrical techniques to reach a difficult preschooler who had not responded to conventional teaching methods. Lobman later received her doctorate at Columbia Universitys Teachers College, where she focused on improvisation as an educational tactic. She also draws upon her experience as a performer and co-founder of Laughing Matters, an improvisation troupe that performed in comedy clubs and at colleges for several years.

Lobman recently published, Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum, written with Matt Lundquist (Teachers College Press). The book is a guide for teachers on how to use performance art as a tool to increase students creativity and foster a spirit of teamwork among classmates.

Emotional Bus is one of more than 100 improvisation games described in Lobmans book. The activity, geared to third-graders and higher, introduces a wide range of vocabulary to describe feelings. The game is played with several students sitting in chairs arranged to mimic

seats on a bus; one student is designated to sit in the drivers seat. As the bus drives along its route, the driver picks up each of the other students, one at a time. As each student boards, he or she is given an emotion by the audience to bring onto the bus, and everyone on the bus, including the bus driver, must act out that motion together.

According to Lobman, the shared, collective experience of being ecstatic, lackadaisical or depressed can bring depth to complicated feelings.

Contact: Nicole Pride

732-932-7084, Ext. 610

E-mail: npride@ur.rutgers.edu