Sienna's Choice

story by Richard Brookton , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning intention: 

I am learning to construct an opinion and justify it so I can present my argument to a small group. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can identify a moral decision in a story
  • I can give an opinion and justify it
  • I can identify how persuasive language is used in slogans and catchphrases and create my own example 
  • I can present my argument to a small group.


Essential knowledge:

As this lesson focuses on argument and persuasion it is essential that all children have a shared understanding of what argument is, when discussing literature. To ensure that all children have the same knowledge of this topic watch the English Textual Concepts Video Argument. Further consolidate this knowledge by explaining to children “Argument is using persuasion to produce a position or resolution supported by evidence. Argument doesn’t need to be combative and can build collaboration to solve complex problems.” (English Textual concepts

The lesson also focuses on morals. Clarify with students that a moral is the principles of right and wrong behavior. For example; Making a stand to bullying, speaking out if you see something wrong.


Learning resource:

As a class read the text. This can be done whole class, in small groups or independently. Some children may benefit from prior exposure to the text through guided reading to ensure they are able to discuss and interpret the text with their peers.


Direct the students to the first line of the text, 

Sienna Powel had a choice. She could go the hard way, or she could take the easy path.” 

The text starts with impact and really focuses on the moral dilemma that Sienna had to make. 

Review the text by asking the students these discussion stimulus questions.  

What is the moral of the story? 

Ask students to create a summary of the right (the hard way) and wrong (the easy path) decision that Sienna had to make with two contrasting columns. 

Use these stimulus questions as prompts 

  • What happened
  • What was Sienna’s choice
  • Why was she worried? 
  • What surprised Sienna with Tommy’s reaction when she approached him?


Explain to students that they are now going to choose one opinion based on the themes from the text and justify it.                                                                                                      An opinion based on themes from the text could include. 

  • Be an upstander:
  • Empowering student voices to speak out
  • Support a National Day of Action against bullying
  • Students should make a united stand against bullying

Discuss with students that they are going to compose their opinions and present them in the most suitable text format, which in this case is through a Persuasive text.

Review the purpose of persuasive text, to project their opinion or point of view and persuade the audience. 

Model the construction of a lead line for the persuasive text based on the theme identified within the text. 

Examples could include:

  • “The end of bullying begins with me.”

  • Stand up for your friends and they’ll stand up for you.

  • Don’t stand by, stand up to bullying.

  • Stop the bully. That’s what superheroes do.

  • “Be an upstander, not a bystander.”(eSafety Commission)


Once teacher has modelled the construction of a lead line, ask students to construct their own lead line with their thinking partner or independently.

Model using think aloud the creation of three justifications and an outcome for their opinion and lead line. Allow children time to compose their own justifications and outcomes.

An example could be:

Lead line: Step up, don’t walk away.

  • If you see something wrong, don’t walk away. Speak out and show support so that the bully won’t keep targeting that person.

  • Be united with others and encourage them to support each other so together we can say that we will not tolerate bullying.

  • Everyone has a right to be included, don’t laugh at jokes or put downs that are targeted at student differences. Call out behavior that makes others feel embarrassed and vulnerable. We want the outcome of unity and support for each other. 

Ask students to combine into groups of 3-4. Encourage children to present their lead line and three points that justify their opinion to a small group or to a partner. Collectively identify and merge the lead lines and points generated into one powerful persuasive text. Over several sessions, allow small groups time to co-construct, modify, edit and publish their persuasive piece.


Assessment of learning:

Allow groups of children to choose the format they are going to present their persuasive piece to the class

  • Oral presentation (Speech)
  • Written presentation (Exposition)