Classroom Writing Workshops

Let’s have some fun with words! Let’s write with Papa Stevie!

Steven Krasner has been performing his interactive, hands-on and collaborative “Nudging the Imagination” classroom writing workshops since 1985, focusing on engaging and exciting students about the writing process and aligning with the curriculum.

In all of his K-12 grade-appropriate writing workshops Steve stresses the use of details, the ease of revision, great descriptive word choices and the inclusion of dialogue in creating the best writing piece in any genre.

Papa Stevie, as he is called in the classroom, enthusiastically guides students in their creation of Narratives, Mysteries, Tall Tales, Newspaper Articles, Video Magazine Scripts, Mystery Dinner Theater Scripts and whole-school Chapter Books of Cliff-hangers, all of which can tie into content across the curriculum.

Students in Grades 1-3, for instance, brainstorm for characters and a setting as Papa Stevie, an award-winning children’s writer, helps them generate a narrative in a classroom atmosphere of organized chaos where there is no such thing as a bad idea, giving the students permission to contribute ideas for the story that he records on his laptop.

In Grades 4 and up, featuring the same animated style and his trusty laptop, Steve leads students through the writing process to create mysteries (never a murder mystery!) and tall tales in addition to developing mystery dinner theater and video magazine scripts and cliff-hangers.

Also, drawing on his 33 years of sports writing experience at the Providence (RI) Journal and ESPN, including 22 years covering the Boston Red Sox on a daily basis, Steve introduces students to his alter ego, Floyd Flapjacque. This writing workshop teaches students how to ask questions and take notes in addition to introducing them to different ways of looking at the same information for different types of stories.


The ultimate goal is to turn your students into eager, independent and enthusiastic writers. "Nudging the Imagination" helps them follow that path.

In classroom writing workshops lasting between 1-1½ hours, we generate a collaborative story featuring characters and a setting that spring strictly from your students’ own imaginations – and no one else’s.

Each student will add his or her voice to the project, giving them each a sense of ownership, in a classroom atmosphere of "organized chaos." The classroom bubbles over with excitement, laughter and learning as we “cook up” a story, using the class-generated characters and settings that form our “list of ingredients.”

The concept of “word pictures” – writing so clearly and so descriptively that our words become pictures in our minds – is discussed as are the important concepts of revision and editing.

Ideas for follow-up activities are offered after the story has been completed and a title has been agreed upon by the class.

Everyone loves to read a good mystery.

It’s just as much fun to write one, which is what is done in this "Nudging the Imagination"writing workshop. This is a similar session to the story-writing workshop performed for K-3, but there is more depth and detail to these class-generated characters and setting, which come strictly from the students’ own imaginations.

The mystery is developed collaboratively to the point at which a motive has been assigned to each character. The use of dialogue, as well as the concepts of revision, editing and the use “word pictures” – writing so clearly and with so much detail that the words form clear pictures in the reader’s mind – are focal points during the mystery’s creation.

Then, it’s up to each student to write his or her own ending, determining not only "Who" did it, but also answering three other questions in their individual narrative endings, two “Hows” and a “Why.”

How was the crime committed, in more detail. Why was the crime committed, in more detail. How the crime was solved, in more detail. This classroom writing workshop normally is an hour in length, but can be tailored to fit the school schedule.

Using the newspaper, as well as Steve's alter ego, a Renaissance man named "Floyd Flapjacque," the students receive a "Nudging the Imagination" lesson in expository writing, learning how to ask good questions and how to be effective note-takers while also learning the differences between the three basic types of stories they’ll find in a newspaper – news, feature, column/editorial.

The students participate in a zany group interview of Floyd, a self-proclaimed certified genius who skydives, owns an ant farm, has won a Betty Crocker Award and is a superstar baseball player.

When the interview has been concluded, one-third of the class will write the story up as a news story, one-third as a feature and one-third as a column/editorial. They will learn there are slightly different ways of looking at the same material.

This writing workshop can be translated very effectively into the Social Studies curriculum, as chapter review, bringing the content to life in an “active learning” way. If you have studied George Washington, for instance, someone in the class becomes "George" and is interviewed by the class.

If a student wrote a news story with "Floyd," he or she will write a feature story with "George," and when Thomas Jefferson visits, he or she will write a column/editorial, getting used to writing for a purpose in different ways.

This session can be performed in 45 minutes, though time can be added for a question-and-answer session revolving around Steve's job as a sports writer, covering the Boston Red Sox for the Providence (RI) Journal.

This "Nudging the Imagination" classroom writing workshop makes content come to life through dialogue and the magic of video to tape the action from the script that is collaboratively written, keeping in mind that everything the viewer needs to know has to be clear through the characters’ words.

This classroom workshop can be especially effective as chapter review in Science and Social Studies, and it doesn’t have to be elaborately staged. It can be very simply accomplished in terms of video-taping.

TV anchors are created. Field reporters are created. Segments are written, with reports and interviews coming to you live, maybe from the Senate in Sparta, where there’s a debate about a new weapon; or maybe from the deck of Christopher Columbus’s ship as he sails off to the “New World.”

Once the segment is over, it’s time for a commercial. Maybe Phidippides is selling foot spray after running from the Battle of Marathon; or maybe the man who built the Santa Maria ship for Columbus’s journey is advertising his latest ship.

Throughout, it’s a lesson in the art of persuasive writing and the use of dialogue.

This classroom writing workshop includes a brief discussion of the tall tale genre. Then the students will be writing their own tall tale, drawing upon knowledge they have gained in various content areas in their own classroom in a collaborative writing exercise.

For instance, maybe your class has studied explorers. During the classroom visit, those explorers come to life, expanding upon their journeys as they sit, for example, in Magellan’s Restaurant in the after-life.

The students’ knowledge of the respective journeys will form the basis of their tall tale, which is recorded on a laptop from their ideas in a session lasting about an hour.

Just because a story is written once, or illustrated once, does not mean it’s done. Every story can be made better.

Revision is necessary. So is editing. And then there are the steps to turn the project into a published work!

In this interactive workshop, using Steve's lavishly illustrated Have A Nice Nap, Humphrey, students will receive a hands-on look at the book’s creation, from soup to nuts.

Original text. Early sketches. Story boards. Magic marker for the illustrations or water colors? Revising for sharper, more vivid word choices. How things change along the way. Why they change.

And then there’s printing process, all of which makes the Have A Nice Nap, Humphrey come to life, step by step, for the students in a workshop that lasts at least 30 minutes, either in individual classrooms or in a mini-assembly setting. A question-and-answer session follows.

For information on Nudging the Imagination writing workshops, including fees and availability, please contact Steve.