Applied ImprovisationMany people are familiar with improv from watching Drew Carey and friends make up characters, scenes and songs on the TV show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Improv is a lot of fun, and it also functions as a technology for human connection and communication. The field of applied improvisation uses the skills and techniques of improv to support professionals in business, educational, and therapeutic settings. The Center’s applied improvisation work includes a number of educator professional learning initiatives that offer new and engaging approaches to academic and social/emotional learning.
Camp Yes AndAt Camp Yes And, teens with autism and educators learn improv as a way to strengthen communication and social skills. The camp combines direct support for teens (ages 13-18) on the autism spectrum with a deep professional learning experience for educators, including K-12 general and special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists and social workers, and arts educators. Evaluation of camp has found measurable improvements in teens’ social communication skills and educators’ confidence around supporting the academic and social success of teens with autism. In recognition of this work, the Center’s Dr. Jim Ansaldo was honored with a 2017 Certificate of Commendation Award by the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
The Center provides technical assistance to camp educators throughout the school year. Consultation and on-site coaching support educators to integrate improv techniques into their own practice. Center staff also co-facilitate staff development workshops to introduce improv to camp educators’ colleagues at the school and district level. These workshops focus not only on improv as a method for strengthening communication and social skills; they teach improv as a method for developing a supportive classroom climate, as a classroom management tool, and as an active learning technique for processing content and practicing skills associated with the core academic curriculum. Improv workshops also are available to interested schools and districts statewide.