Storyworks Opinion Essay Organizer

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.

While we Link Ladies love apps, this time we'll show you a new way to use Google Classroom. Knowing how many districts have “gone Google,” we want to share with you a way to modify how students engage with Storyworks text. Anytime we can find ways for kids to express what they understand and back it up with text evidence to “prove it,” we go for it.  



Why we use it:

Google Classroom is a great way to foster online collaboration and integrate technology. It can boost productivity and engagement. And it’s FREE!


Skill Focus:

  • Citing Text Evidence
  • Comprehension
  • Opinion Writing
  • Collaboration



1-2 class periods


What you’ll need:


The setup:

Create an assignment on Google Classroom that includes the Storyworks debate and a graphic organizer where students can record text evidence for both sides of the debate. Be sure that your template can be easily customized for each issue’s debate. Once you make it a regular writing activity, you will see how your students’ arguments and connections to text evidence become stronger as they develop their opinion writing skills. Here’s what our template looks like—feel free to use it!



The Lesson:

To get students engaged, begin by having them sit in their seats quietly doing nothing for two minutes. (No talking, no moving around, no reading—nothing!) When the time is up, have them turn and talk with a partner about what they were feeling during the two minutes. Then share the title of the Storyworks debate: “Is it Good to be Bored Sometimes?” The do-nothing activity you just completed will help them feel invested in sharing their opinion.


Discuss with your students how the debate is structured to provide evidence to support both sides of any given argument. Their goal will be to find evidence that supports their opinion, but they should also see the other side, too. Maybe this will bolster the opinion they already have—or maybe it will actually change their mind. Part of the fun is seeing how it all unfolds in their minds!



Students will access the article and their assignment through Google Classroom. The purpose of using Google Classroom is for your students to share a document that they can all access and contribute to. Creating a collaborative learning space develops an environment where students feel safe expressing their own opinions.  Students are now used to communicating online and sharing (sometimes too much) with their friends. Expanding our learning environment via Google Classroom meets students in a forum they are innately comfortable in. A collaborative space like Google Classroom also allows those students who need extra time the opportunity to participate at their own pace. They can read what others are thinking which often sparks their own connections as well.


Once students have read the article, they can then open the Google Doc (again, either a version of ours, or one you’ve created). Here they will work on sharing their opinion on boredom as well as citing text evidence that supports each side of the argument.


Be purposeful in promoting “boredom” in your classroom.  Watch your students rise to the challenge. Creativity will soar! Then revisit this Debate in May/June and see whether their opinions have changed. We even followed up this Debate with a full class period on mindfulness to take this idea full circle.  




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