Storyworks Persuasive Essay

Editor's note: Our favorite library media specialists, The Link Ladies, are back to share one of their essential “App-Style Learning” ideas for back to school. Any Link Ladies-approved app follows some basic guidelines: It's easy to use, it's fun and effective, and it's free. Your classroom toolkit would not be complete without one of our favorite apps, Chatterpix. This already popular app is an amazing engagement tool that can offer real learning benefits, especially when used with the great ELA content found in Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. If you are not familiar with it, this is a MUST-TRY, especially during your first few weeks back in the classroom. 

The App: Chatterpix

How it works: The Chatterpix App is a fun, free, easy-to-use app that allows the user to take any picture and make it “talk.”  

Why we use it: Chatterpix is one of our favorite ways to help students voice their opinion or take a side on a debate topic. By using this app, you’ll find your classroom discussions come to life. Through the act of debating, students build self-confidence, find their voice, work hard to find solid text evidence, and even open a dialogue with their peers. Plus, recording helps them develop their voice and fluency. Imagine that one quiet kid who has a hard time contributing to class discussions being able to express their opinions, make connections to a text, and shine—Chatterpix can help you make all that happen!

How you can use it: Each Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. issue has a debate article, and our students love them. Using the Chatterpix app is a great way to have students share their opinions and back them up with text evidence. Your students' opinion matters, as does how they sell their ideas. Using these debate articles will also provide you with the opportunity to make direct connections to curriculum-writing units and persuasive writing skills-development lessons.   

Learning objective: to aid comprehension and build fluency by creating reading responses using supporting text evidence. 

What you’ll need:

The Lesson: Students read the debate article and use the fact-collecting graphic organizer in the magazine to gather text evidence for both sides of the debate. They then decide, based on what they think combined with what they have learned from the article, which side of the debate they’d like to take a stand on. The example shown below is using the article “Can Your Lunch Help Save the Planet?” from the April/May 2015 issue of Storyworks. 

Follow the steps below to learn how to create your own App-Style debate lesson using Chatterpix.


Step 1: 

Open the app.


Step 2: Students choose an image to use in Chatterpix.

This image should provide you with another level of assessment to see how well the student can represent the content with their picture choice. You can choose a primary source, a Google image or even a picture of the text your student is reading. (Expressing a rationale for the image choice provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their point of view and understanding of the content.)


Step 3: After uploading or taking a photo, students will choose NEXT, which will lead them to the screen where they draw the “mouth” that will talk. (The longer the line, the wider the mouth will open.)


Step 4: After they are happy with where they have drawn the mouth, students will choose NEXT. This will lead them to the recording screen. Students will record their opinions and describe the text evidence that best supports their idea.  

Students can add text and/or stickers to image as well.  


Step 5: The Chatterpix can be saved to the Chatterpix gallery within the app, or it can be exported to the Camera Roll and shared from there like any other video file.


Click here for a peek at what the finished product looks like!


We hope your students will love this awesome app-style learning experience! Let us know how it works in your classroom in the comments below.

This is a guest post from Lindsey Fuller, a 6th grade Elementary School Teacher in Decatur, Illinois.  The full version of her post can be found on her blog at If you are interested in contributing to the Edmodo Blog, please complete this form.

Connect with Lindsey on Edmodo or follow her @linlin8!

My students really resist writing.  Any kind of writing.  I can’t really blame them – I didn’t like writing when I was in school, either.  But I recently engaged my students in a writing unit that met with less resistance than usual – thanks to StoryWorks.

Scholastic To The Rescue

To teach persuasive writing, I recently shared an article with my students “Should Girls Play on Boys’ Sports Teams?” After reading and discussing the article with my class, I asked the students to help me identify three arguments for each side of the debate, as well as a supporting detail for each argument.

Taking Sides and Using Edmodo to Foster & Teach Debate

In subsequent class periods, I then asked the students to choose a side and divided the class into groups that included people supporting both sides of the argument.

Using Edmodo, I polled the class about their opinions. Once this was complete, I asked for each group to post one discussion point for each side of the argument. The students within a group could respond to each other and make counter-arguments, but were not yet allowed to respond to posts from outside their small group.

This allowed us to begin the debate on a small scale, and gave us some time to discuss debate etiquette and guidelines. Once the groups had a chance to debate amongst themselves, I opened it up and allowed any student to contribute to any post.

The debate worked very well on Edmodo. We didn’t have to worry about taking turns, or anyone getting drowned out in the conversation.  In fact, some of my most quiet and reserved students were the most enthusiastic debaters – they didn’t have the pressure of all eyes being on them, and this gave them a freedom they normally do not experience in class activities.  The debate was incredibly lively – pitting girls against boys never fails on that count!

Throughout the debate, I was able to follow along, participate, and moderate as necessary.  I was delighted to find the students reminding each other to use their supporting facts from the text.  Every student was engaged, and the topic was perfect for bringing passion and strong opinions to the assignment.  Once the debate began to die out, we conducted a second poll to see if anyone had changed their opinion.  The results were another interesting point of discussion for the class.

The debate allowed my students to work on using their evidence to support their arguments, to go to the Internet to find outside sources as needed, and to fully develop their own thoughts and opinions on the topic.  With their arguments solidified, we moved on to persuasive writing.

Extending the Argument

The StoryWorks website provides some excellent supporting materials for the magazine. In this case, I printed and copied a persuasive writing organizer that accompanied the article we analyzed.  This allowed my students to get their arguments and evidence in order before writing. After filling out the organizer, we worked together to create a basic outline for persuasive writing and discussed persuasive language as well as “hooks” and conclusions.

When we finally got around to writing, it was a pretty simple task for the students to transfer their organizer and outline into an essay.  I asked the classes to hand write the essay first – they needed to build writing stamina before we head into state testing.  This handwritten copy was used for peer editing, and final drafts were typed using Google Docs.

Learning That Lasts

This unit took quite some time to complete, as there were a lot of topics and a lot of steps involved.  However, it was worth being so thorough – my students showed a marked improvement in not only persuasive writing, but also in arguing effectively during class discussions and using evidence to support their thoughts when responding to texts.

If you would like to learn more about this lesson, please see the post I recently wrote about the app.  You can also read my post about using Google Docs in the classroom. 

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