Chris Espinosa

Chris Espinosa

Out of State Region
Keller, TX
[email protected]

Building Strong Writing Skills Through Improv Comedy (Expository or Narrative)

One-day workshops or multi-day residencies, 2nd – 9th grade
Students learn how to use improvisation to think critically and build strong writing skills as they work on ideas, voice, and word choice for expository essays and/or personal narratives. Expository for 2nd grade? Yes! (Been there, done that, and they liked writing essays!)

My multi-day residences allow students to improvise, collaborate in small groups, and write a rough draft for and an expository or narrative. Students have the opportunity to share their writing in front of the class. I encourage them to make it a performance. Those who do perform instead of simply reading it really put on a show. (What a bunch of hams!). One-day workshops don’t allow time for many students to participate in improv exercises.

These workshops are more of an improvisational (and educational!) performance.
Prior to my visit, I contact the teachers for input on how to adapt my lessons for state language arts requirements and/or the writing method they may be using in the classroom. Although I don’t adhere to a specific writing method, my lessons support any method because I create a writing experience. A writing method is good for tests, but a writing experience is good for life.

After my visit, students will know:

• The difference between expository essays and personal narratives
• Three steps of the writing process: (1) plan/draft, (2) develop, (3) revise

Students will be able to:

• Write an expository essay or a narrative
• Create an effective introduction and a satisfying conclusion

The students will appreciate:

• The connection between the spoken and written word


Improvisational storyteller Chris Espinosa is a published author who despised writing as a child. Lackluster language arts lessons in elementary school stifled his creativity and destroyed any desire for writing. That all changed in 1999! He was a lowly engine salesman/wannabe actor looking for his big break in show biz. However, all he could book was a gig as a traveling storyteller for a live bunny. (You’d think working for a cute bunny would be stress-free and full of unicorns and butterflies…wrong!) He quit two years later, wrote a book, and continued traveling with his writing workshop. Although his writing lessons were not developed for any specific test, scores on the Texas state-mandated standardized test did increase. Espinosa’s mesmerizing performances inspire young writers to create colorful chronicles or exciting expository essays. Students also engage in dynamic improvisation exercises designed to develop ideas, voice, and word choice. Everyone, especially the reluctant writers, discover that writing can be simply defined by one rule: “If you can THINK it, you can INK it.”

Chris Espinosa is the author of two books and illustrator of three. He participated in the Artists as Educators Training developed by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is on the rosters of TRAHC – ARTSSMART in Texarkana (2012-present); the Texas Commission on the Arts (2008-present); the Young Audiences of Northeast Texas (2012-present); and of course, the Arkansas Arts Council (2016-present).

AIE Program

Preferred Age Level: Elementary;Middle/Junior High; Senior High
Geographic Availability: Statewide
Time Availability: September, October, December, February - selected dates
Special Needs: Flip chart easel and post-it note flip chart paper