Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Learning through Laughter

Acting out as a panel of ballet experts on a morning show

"Why are we still here? What else do we have to learn?" That question plagues me. It's difficult because students get mixed messages. The end of the year excitement and energy is hard to battle. I refuse to show movies. We make our time meaningful until the #lastbell. In communications, we are learning using improvisation. A brilliant teacher, Whitney Field shared a presentation on using improv with middle school students this summer in the Northern Virginia Writing Project's ISI. I was skeptical as improv is very much outside of my comfort zone. 

Working together as groups of three-headed experts
As this year progressed, I kept my eyes and ears open for new and interesting things to teach and practice and learn in communications. A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of improv and it fit perfectly. I've seen the silent students raise their hands to perform. I notice everyone participating and laughing during our warm-ups. We laugh. We take risks. We get better.

It's been so successful, that I've started using some exercises with my sixth-grade classes. It turns up the energy on a listless class and it bonds the group. I see the community growing stronger and stronger. 

Working together as a three-headed expert

Taking a risk and trying something completely new has been so worth it! The students are learning about communication, creativity, critical thinking, and listening. Making mistakes is celebrated and taking risks pays off. 
Practicing the three-headed expert

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it.


  1. Wow, Michelle! What a brace and selfless action to take because it was outside of your comfort zone. I've never thought about improv with my 5ths, but the community and bonding you describe sounds amazing. I hope you write more about it!

  2. I want to be in your class! What a fun thing to do at the end of the year, creative, communication, community...lots of Cs going on here.

  3. So many things I love about this post! First, I love hearing you took the time to do improv. So valuable but often the thing teachers can't find the time to include. I just did some readers theater and the same happened for my quiet friends. On stage, they transformed and opened up! And I LOVE the photos. Can't wait to hear more about how you make the magic. So fun!

  4. What a great idea -- you should write more about what you did; how you did it; how you connected it to learning; formative assessment etc. Really powerful idea --thank you for sharing and for keeping it real until #lastbell

  5. The end of the year can be trying. We are in the midst of testing. I have the kids in a 2 hour block. We test in the first hour and in the 2nd hour, the kids are creating skits about Chinese folk tales. They need a creative outlet after testing so hard.

  6. I always thoroughly enjoy a sneak peek into your classroom and this one didn't disappoint! As I was reading your post the hashtag #lastbell came to mind and I was happy to see we embrace similar teaching practices. I can tell your students really enjoyed the improv activity!

  7. I love seeing those happy pictures, Michelle. Good for you for trying something new, and keeping the enthusiasm here at the end of the year. It sounds like lots of fun!

  8. I too want to be in your class where students grow beyond their comfort zone. It sounds like your class is ending the year yearning for more.

  9. I love this line: "Making mistakes is celebrated and taking risks pays off." That is a message that we cannot share enough with our students.

  10. This sounds like a win win for everyone! Enjoy!


Please share your thoughts. I love comments!