Story Pirates' workshop curriculum

by Ricardo Castillo

Story Pirates' workshop curriculum focuses on core elements of national standards
for Arts Education and English Language Arts while providing rich cultural experiences
that push the boundaries of traditional enrichment to tackle substantive educational
goals like vocabulary development, story structure, revision and confident

Standard Residencies

(5-7 Class Sessions)
Story Writing Building Blocks

Grades K-1
The class will work together on creating a group story with a clear
beginning, middle and end, containing a character, a problem and
a solution. This group story then becomes the reference point for
a series of lessons in which students design their own stories each
containing the same set of story building blocks. Character Workshop

Grades 1-2
Students will create detailed characters and develop problems
for those characters to solve by drawing them on our specialized
graphic organizers. Students will use their pictures as the first
step in a scaffolded series of lesson plans that culminate in writing
detailed, well-organized stories with a clear beginning, middle and
end. Students will also return to the pictures later as the first step in
doing some simple revision of the stories.
Hero Story Writing, with Heroic Dialogue

Grades 2-5
We tap into the deep love for hero stories that so many students
have but then ask students to look at the idea of a hero in ways
they may not have considered before. As we emphasize creating
well-rounded, surprising characters that go beyond the stereotypes
of what traditional heroes might be, each student creates a
hero character and plans out creative, nonviolent solutions, which
this character might use to solve a problem.
Informational Essay Writing: The Solar System

Grades 3-4
Compiling scientific information from NASA into an entertaining
and readable research packet for 3rd-4th graders, we created a
document, which will serve as a primary source for students as
they research a planet in the solar system. In order to arm the
students for further research online or in a library, we have also
included certain pages in this packet that come from unreliable
sources or contain opinions instead of facts. The first day is centered
around a treasure hunt in the packet to find which pages are
unreliable (and should be crossed out), leading into a lesson about
how to find good sources in general when doing research. From
there the students will spend the residency creating well-organized
essays that are not only informative but hold the reader’s attention
with precise and vivid vocabulary and imagery.
Narrative Writing Essentials

Grades 3-5
This workshop is designed to support a variety of essential narrative
writing skills that are studied in upper elementary grades. The
first day begins with a dramatic explanation of the importance of
“showing, not telling,” which is a concept students will come back
to again and again throughout the residency. From there students
will create characters and study how to effectively use a variety of
sequencing words to precisely manage the events of the story as
their characters try multiple solutions to solve a problem. Using
all of these techniques together, students will then plan out an
increasingly exciting flow of rising action followed by a satisfying

Persuasive Essays

Grades 3-5
We collaborate with teachers and administrators to choose a persuasive
writing topic in which students will take sides on issues they
have been studying or that the teachers think students would most
benefit from writing about. We provide scaffolding to students for
writing a very traditional five paragraph persuasive essay, including
writing a strong introduction, selecting good arguments, using
transition words and finishing with a strong conclusion.
Comedy Story Writing

Grades 4-5
In this unique, signature workshop, we pair up an experienced
teaching artist with a hilarious improv comedian and teach the
students the principles of writing a good comedy story. Creating a
strong comedy story requires crafting detailed characters and settings,
choosing vocabulary precisely, writing in a strong comedic
“voice” and following a highly organized story structure.
Mystery Stories and the Art of Inference

Grades 4-5
Students create detectives, explore how to set up a mystery and
learn the subtle art of backward planning to plant clues in a narrative
that point towards a particular culprit. Since a mystery story
requires readers to make inferences about the solution to the mystery,
students will also need to practice using their own inference
skills in a variety of warm-up activities and short readings designed
to prepare them to plan out clues effectively in their own stories.

Short Term Residencies

(1-2 Class Sessions)
Group Story Writing
Grades Pre-K-3
Theater, visual arts and writing come together in this lively, fun,
interactive workshop. Students will work as a class to create a
simple narrative story, which will be dictated to and guided by our
teaching artists. The primary focus will be on reinforcing the basic
building blocks of a story, including creating a detailed, original
character; introducing a problem and finding exciting, creative
solutions to the problem.
Group Genre Story Writing

Grades 3-5
Designed to provide older elementary students with the basic
building blocks for writing in a particular genre, this theatrical,
interactive workshop will involve the whole class writing a genre
story together and reflecting on the main elements that make the
genre unique. The teaching artists will provide memorable theatrical
demonstrations of key points and leave the students with materials
to begin working on individual stories after we have left the room.
Test Taking Techniques

Grades 3-4
This workshop offers a mix of strategies to pump students up for
taking big tests, help them find ways to calm down when nervous
during a test and techniques for taking tests that will allow students
to approach them logically and--incredible as it sounds--even have
fun with them!
Long Term Residencies
(Semester or Year Long Programs, in Classrooms or After School)
Poetry Writing and Performance

Grades K-5
Poetry writing is flexible, fun and can be a vehicle for lots of different
learning outcomes, depending on the goals of the program. For
one thing, poetry writing can be a great place to explore certain literary
techniques in a focused and creative manner: whether writing
poems featuring simile, metaphor, rhyming, hyperbole, onomatopoeia,
etc. students can learn and remember important techniques
while making the process feel like a game.
Persuasive Techniques and Commercial Writing

Grades 3-5
Many of the techniques used in writing persuasive essays can also
be used to create effective commercials. Often we do these workshops
shortly after the students have already done a persuasive
writing unit or shortly before they are about to begin one so that
we can reinforce persuasive writing techniques that teachers and
administrators most want the students to work on.
Comedy Writing and Performance

Grades 3-8
Through a combination of dramatic demonstrations in the classroom,
listening to comedy skits created by Story Pirates specifically
to model certain comedic concepts and the use of highly structured
graphic organizers, students will learn about several different approaches
to comedy writing. In addition, students will learn comedic
performance techniques, which may include improvisation, theatrical
skit performance or the production of audio skits or “podcasts”
to take home.

The Art of Adaptation for Performance

Grades 5-12
Sometimes referred to as “Story Pirates Jr.,” these workshops for
middle to high school teach students about the Story Pirates style
and method of performance, including reading stories by elementary
school students, analyzing the text closely to decide how
to perform it, building stories together under the guidance of a
Story Pirates director and then putting on a show at an elementary
school featuring these stories.
Other Arts Enrichment Topics

Grades K-5
We have taught a wide range of other fun, arts enrichment after
school residencies on a variety of different topics. More information
is available upon request.
Specialized Topics
We have also taught workshops on a variety of other academic topics, including science, social studies and a variety of specialized topics
related to reading, writing and language standards. If there is a subject area you are interested in Story Pirates working on, there is no subject
we won't design lessons for given enough funding for curriculum planning and ideally given collaboration with school staff.
These workshops may require additional funding for planning time and curriculum writing for our teaching artists as we tailor these
workshops closely to the needs and requests of school administrators and teachers.