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 up the story up as a news story, one-third as a feature story and one-third as a column/editorial. Students will learn there are slightly different ways of looking at the same material.
This writing workshop dovetails effectively with the Social Studies curriculum, as chapter review, bringing the content to life in an “active learning” way. If, for instance, you have studied George Washington, someone in the class becomes "George" and is interviewed by the class. “George” better know the answers to the questions. The class better be able to ask good questions. Your opportunity, as a teacher, to assess what the students have learned.
If students wrote news stories with "Floyd," they will write feature stories with "George," and when Thomas Jefferson visits, they will write columns or editorials, getting used to writing for a purpose by looking at information in different ways.
This session can be augmented with a question-and-answer session with Steve, revolving around his former job a sports writer, covering the Boston Red Sox for the Providence (RI) Journal.