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Cultivate Creative Thinking Skills Through Applied Improvisation

Lifestage was proud to host Guy Nelson, author of Creative Thinking, Creative Play: Using Improvisational Games To Transform People, Classrooms and Organizations, an improviser with Unexpected Productions , musician and trainer as well as NPR journalist with WUOW in Seattle,as a guest facilitator on Friday May 11.He described improvisation as a "universal lubricant" applicable to every area of learning and growth. In this gathering of mental health and education professionals. the discussion focused on how the thinking skills learned through improvisation apply to the therapeutic and learning process. Here is a breakdown of the games and exercises Guy taught in this workshop. 
DANCE CAPTAIN WARM-UP
     An accomplished musician, Guy demonstrated the improvisation principle of "yes...and" and warmed up the group with a nonverbal dance exercise. Playing the guitar and singing an improvised piece, he provided the music for the exercise. Group members stood in a circle. …

Exploring The Growth Mindset Through Applied Improvisation

The “growth” mindset builds on the idea that we can choose our attitude toward change and about what it means to fail or succeed. And that if we believewe can learn something new or develop a skill set that is needed to realize a goal, we will be more likely to stick with the process until we have mastered it.  In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck writes that mind sets are powerful driver of perceptions about self and others as well as one’s capabilities and place in the world. “Mindsets frame the running account that’s taking place in peoples’ heads,” she states. “They guide the whole interpretation process.” Dr. Dweck’s work identifies 2 distinctly different mindsets that have the greatest implications to successful learning and change over the lifespan, the “Growth mindset” and the “Fixed mindset.”
The Fixed mindset holds that our intelligence, talent and ability to change are fixed, and there is nothing we can do to expand them. Becau…

In It Together: Social-Emotional Learning through Applied Improvisation workshop handout

Social-emotional events have a direct impact on our ability to receive, store and use new information. "Event memories are tied to specific emotionally or physically charged events (strong sensory input) because of the emotional intensity of the events to which they are linked," explains neurologist Judy Willis in Research-Based Strategies To Ignite Student Learning. "Because the 'dramatic event' powers its way through the neural pathways of the emotionally preactivated limbic system into memory storage, the associated hitch-hiking academic information gets pulled along with it. Recollection of the academic material occurs when the emotionally significant event comes to mind, unconsciously or consciously. To remember the lesson, students can cue up the dramatic event to which it is linked." 
Matthew Lieberman, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA whose book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, argues that our n…

The Will and The Skill: Applied Improvisation and The Process of Change workshop handout

"The secret is just to say 'Yes!' and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself in the present moment, always yourself, without sticking to an old self. You forget all about yourself and are refreshed. You are a new self, and before that self becomes an old self, you say 'Yes! and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast. So the point of each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice."   

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

GAMES

NAME YES...AND GAME
Objectives:
Learn group members' names;
Learn something about each group member's interests;
Practice a basic "yes" exercise which is the cornerstone of improvisation;

Participants stand in a circle. The leader begins by saying his/her name along with an activity he/she likes to and an action that goes with that activity: "Piano-playing Jude" while playing an imaginary keyboard. The group repeats the name and the action. Next person then says his/her …