“Yes, And…” Improving Math Play with Improv

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Increase your confidence to lead open-ended math play with Improvisational Theater!

yes and workshop

  • Are you uncomfortable leading a math activity without a script?
  • Do you wonder: What if they ask questions I can’t answer? What if it doesn’t go like I planned? How can I let the kids lead the activity?
  • Do you want to be more comfortable leading discussions and activities that are open-ended?
  • Are you hoping to embrace the Natural Math principle of saying “Yes, And…” – but you don’t really get it?
  • What does Yes, And look like?

We get it! Yes, And is probably one of the most difficult principles of Natural Math to feel confident about. Most of us likely didn’t learn our math this way. We may not even teach other subjects this way. No matter your situation or past math experiences, you CAN learn the skill of effectively leading children while letting them make their own math. It may seem unusual, but acting improvisation (improv) can help us become more comfortable with open, playful, friendly mathematics!

Sarah Trebat-Leder has taken improv classes, and is a 4th year Ph.D. student in Mathematics. She’s uniquely experienced in both areas. In this workshop, you’ll get to see just how improv can help you begin to grow your confidence in leading those open-ended, “What’s going to happen!?” types of activities!

What will you learn?

  • Three acting improv games that can help you be more comfortable with math discussions.
  • How Yes, And creates joy and allows a narrative to develop.
  • How to make everyone feel safe in a math discussion.
  • How each member of the group can help to create the math experience.
  • How to really listen in a discussion.
  • How to teach your children to listen in a discussion.
  • The role of emotion in your math discussions and play.
  • How to accept all emotions in your math experiences.

How it works

Live sessions include classes in an interactive online program called Zoom. Sarah will teach you acting improv games, and we’ll try them out in class! Then Sarah will show you how this can help you lead safe, fun, math-rich discussions and activities.
Self-paced sessions include the recording of previous sessions and all the activities to try it out on your own!
Session 1: Introductions; group storytelling; Yes, But – Yes, And activity; Last Word First activity.
Between Sessions: Try out the improv activities with your colleagues, children, or students.
Session 2: Sharing ideas and experiences; remixing the activities; math problems and emotions; It’s Tuesday activity.

The Details!

  • What: Two-part live online workshop, now with a self-paced version.
  • Why: Improv is a great way to become comfortable with open-ended mathematics.
  • Who: Teachers, parents, and math circle leaders (children are welcome to accompany) with Sarah Trebat-Leder and Shelley Nash as organizers.
  • When: Next Live Session TBA
  • Where: Online video-talk software Zoom (similar to Skype), or YouTube videos.
  • Price: Registration is $25 per family/group, or name your own price for the self-paced workshop. Includes a PDF booklet with the activities.
  • Supplies: None – come as you are to improvise with us!

Are you ready to give yourself the confidence to lead open-ended math play? Sign up today!

  • Type the price you choose. The window is filled with $20 by default
  • Click the Register button.

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Questions before you sign up? Email Shelley at shelley@naturalmath.com. Please share this opportunity with a friend!

Sarah Trebat-Leder

Sarah Trebat-Leder lives in Atlanta, where she’s a 4th-year mathematics PhD student at Emory University. She is the director and founder of Emory Math Circle, and has been taking improv classes for a little more than a year at Highwire Comedy Company. During the summer, she teaches at BEAM 7, a three-week residential summer math program for 7th graders from underserved NYC schools.

Shelley Nash is the mom of seven amazing and challenging kids ages 15 to 3. For over 20 years, she has been driven by an insatiable desire to understand learning, education, education’s role in our society and personal development, and the role of technology in learning. She is passionate about letting children own their education and learning, and about discovering the elements that inspire learning in all of us. She currently leads online math circles and loves her work at NaturalMath.com and as a mother. 


Natural Math Principles

We embrace all the principles of Natural Math in our online circle. Especially relevant are Yes, And and Openness.


Questions? Email shelley@naturalmath.com or ask in comments to this page.

  • Connection and devices: you will need fast internet to watch and listen. It’s better to have a microphone and a webcam so you can show and tell as well, but you can also use text chat. We recommend larger screens rather than phones.
  • Software: Zoom is a tool for talking, like Skype or Google Hangouts. Please download and try it, here: https://zoom.us/test The same page has the link to a tech support center, in case you need it.
  • Recording: The meetings will be available to course participants as YouTube videos.

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