Literacy at Work: The Writers Room with Duane Capizzi

In “The Writers Room,” television producer, writer, and Carmen Sandiego showrunner Duane Capizzi introduces students to the exciting world of TV writing. Students think about plot structure and storytelling as they unpack episodes of the Netflix series Carmen Sandiego or one of their own favorite shows. Students use their new knowledge to come up with an episode idea of their own and pitch it to their class.

With this video and the resources below, students learn about writing for television and come up with an episode for an existing TV series. They examine the elements of a story arc, including the set up, escalation, and resolution, and then craft their own plot. Throughout the activity, students practice creative thinking, writing, collaborating, and presenting ideas.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Our free teaching guide and student worksheet can be used for whole-class instruction or completed by students outside of the classroom.

The Writers Room | Grades 4–8

Student Worksheet: Students examine the three elements of a story arc (set up, escalation, and resolution) and create their own pitch for a TV episode.


Teaching Guide: Use this guide to teach students how to write a TV pitch using an episode of Literacy at Work. This lesson plan can be used with individual students or for whole-class instruction.


Sample Episode Pitch: This sample pitch for the Carmen Sandiego episode, "The Duke of Vermeer Caper" can help inspire your students. Use this as a model to show kids how to write their own episode pitch.

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Learn more about the Literacy at Work web series, an HMH effort to not only help students grow as readers and writers but also show them the lifelong role literacy plays in their lives.