Big News


We've put the final touches on the April issue of Scope and sent it off to the printer. It will be heading to your classroom soon, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peek at what you'll find in your next issue.



Drama: The Emperor's New Clothes
Your students will love this hilarious and thought-provoking play based on the short story by Hans Christian Andersen. An informational text about finding the courage to speak up follows the play.

Skills: integrating Ideas, character, inference, development of events and ideas

Audio: Hear the informational text and vocabulary read aloud.



Narrative Nonfiction: “The Children Who Escaped the Nazis”
This powerful article tells the story of 14-year-old girl who escaped Nazi Germany through the Kindertransport, a rescue operation that helped save the lives of approximately 10,000 Jewish children.

Skills: key Ideas, text structure, author’s purpose, key ideas and details, supporting details, development of individuals and events

Video: "Into the World of the Kindertransport"

Audio: Hear the article and vocabulary read aloud.



Paired Texts: "Stinky Pits: A History" and “The Science of Smell”
Two texts explore the history and science of smell. The first provides fascinating details about the history of smell and explains how the deodorant industry got its start. The second is a short text about how the sense of smell works.

Skills: synthesis, figurative language, text features, text structure, key ideas and supporting details, tone

Audio: Hear the articles and vocabulary read aloud.



Fiction: Phoenix Farm
A beautiful story by Jane Yolen about new beginnings is paired with a retelling of the ancient myth of the phoenix.

Skills: theme, figurative language, tone, character, setting, inference, symbolism

Audio: Hear the story, myth, and vocabulary read aloud.



Debate: "YouTube Made Me Do It"
Kids are attempting risky stunts to get famous online. Are social media sites encouraging this dangerous behavior? Students read arguments on both sides of the debate and take a stand.

Skills: supporting an argument, central ideas and details

Audio: Hear the vocabulary read aloud.



Short Read: "Did the World’s Tallest Mountain Shrink?"
This bite-sized nonfiction text explores the measures scientists are taking to find out if an earthquake knocked an inch off Mount Everest.

Skills: supporting a claim, central ideas and details, text evidence

Vocabulary slideshow

Audio: Hear the article read aloud.



Lazy Editor: "Ship of Ghosts"
Students analyze mentor sentences using correct capitalization and then edit three paragraphs of a short nonfiction article about the mystery of the Mary Celeste.

Skills: Conventions of standard English, Revision



Grammar: "Listens to Music"
Students practice using your and you’re while learning about how listening to music affects the body. 



You Write It/Interview: “How I Got Plastic Bags Banned”
Students turn our interview with 12-year-old Bella Rossborough, who ended the use of plastic bags in her town, into an article.


Teachers often ask us for a pacing guide. Well, ask and you shall receive! Our brand new pacing guide is hot off the presses. Use this great tool to discover how Scope resources can fit seamlessly into your teaching calendar as you map out the year and as you break out your plans day by day. 

The new pacing guide will help you utilize Scope to its fullest and teach each issue with ease and joy.

Within the pacing guide you will find an overview of:

  • genres, skills, and standards you can expect to find covered in each issue of the magazine
  • differentation and assessment resources that are offered with each feature
  • activities to introduce or reinforce skills so that you can tailor instruction to your needs


Download the Scope Pacing Guide here!


Looking for some practice with synthesis? We've got just the thing!

Our new activity The Deep Ocean helps students synthesize ideas and information from our March play Into the Deep and the informational text "What's Down There?" Here's how it works:

Through a scaffold process of text marking, analysis, and writing, the activity prepares students to answer the writing prompt "What do the play and informational text reveal about the relationship between humans and the deep ocean?" This activity is a great way for students to break down and digest two complex texts!

Try this activity out in your classroom and let us know how it goes in the comments below.


The Lazy Editor has had a makeover! It can now be used as a mentor text for learning grammar and editing skills.


What’s in it?

The revised Lazy Editor features the same short, fascinating articles that you and you students know and love (like the this one about the ancient curse of a Hawaiian volcano). Now, though, that article contains mentor sentences for students to analyze. Here's how it works: After students read the article, they follow the prompts in the "Help the Lazy Editor" box to find sentences within the text that highlight the featured grammar skill. (In the December/January Lazy Editor, the featured skill is how to use possessives, so students comb through the article for apostrophes.) Students then write a few grammar rules based on their observations. Next, students apply the rules to correct errors in the last paragraph of the article. Lastly, students apply the featured skill to their own writing.


Why do we love it?

  • It takes grammar out of isolation and puts it into meaningful context.
  • It enables you to incorporate mentor sentences and student writing into grammar instruction.
  • It helps students recognize, discuss, and emulate great sentences.
  • It equips students with strategies for revising and editing that they can immediately apply to their own writing.
  • It provides you with targeted lessons to address problem areas you’re seeing in student writing. 
  • It lets you review and spiral grammar instruction throughout the year with ease.
  • It doesn’t smell like grammar!


The Lazy Editor can be found in every issue of Scope. You can complete it as a stand-alone exercise or use it as a targeted mini-lesson to kick off a writing workshop.


Ready to try The Lazy Editor activity in your classroom? Find it here! For additional practice with each issue’s featured skill, check out the new Grammar Scavenger Hunt at Scope Online. In this activity, students mine articles throughout the magazine for mentor sentences highlighting the featured skill.

Hi teachers!

We are so excited that one of our favorite writers, Gordon Korman, author of Restart and Swindle, is joining us for this year's Write-a-Story contest! Gordon wrote three first lines to stories that do not exist. Your students choose their favorite line and use it to begin their own short stories. We encourage you to get started with your class now, so that your students have plenty of time to revise as you explore the elements of fiction, including plot, character, setting.

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2018. (The winner will be announced online in July 2018.)

To help you, we’ve put together a wonderful set of resources:

Also, check out this delightful video in which Gordon reveals what he’s looking for in a short story and offers some awesome writing tips.

The winning student will receive $100. We’re also offering YOU a prize. If one of your students wins, you will get a free one-year subscription to Scope for your class and a class set of Gordon’s wonderful novel Restart. For more, visit the contest page.

We hope that all your students will be inspired by Gordon’s first lines!
Use #ScopeContest to share with us the amazing stories that your students create.




You may have noticed some new kids on the Scope activity block. My absolute favorite? The Theme Anticipation Guide! We did a deep dive into literary elements over the summer—assessing our support materials, researching best practices, and of course getting advice from amazing Scope teachers. The Theme Anticipation Guide is just one of a handful of new activities we’ve created out of those efforts.

Our new literary elements offerings include higher-level thinking tasks that encourage students to make meaningful connections to their life experiences and across texts. We hope activities like this guide will help students analyze and appreciate literature through the lens of literary elements.


The Theme Anticipation Guide will Get Students Ready for Reading

The Theme Anticipation Guide is to reading what stretching is to running. It’s a warm-up that readies your students’ minds to recognize and connect to the themes they will encounter in the reading. We designed the guide not as a worksheet, but as a pre-reading comprehension strategy and valuable discussion starter. Look for the Theme Anticipation Guide that will appear with every Scope fiction and play feature, and occasionally with the nonfiction feature as well.


What's in the Guide?

Each guide consists of 10 or fewer statements related to universal themes or dilemmas that students deliberate before reading the text, and then revisit and reflect upon after reading the text. You could use all the statements or just a select few. You could project the page or hand it out as a “do now” activity at the start of class.

Here's how we recommend using the Guide:

What you’ll need:

Key skills:
critical thinking, speaking and listening, theme

one class period


1. Fill out the checklist.

Give each student a copy of the Theme Anticipation Guide and have them write down whether they agree or disagree with each statement. Or project the statements and have students record their responses in their reading journals.


2. Share the responses.

Poll the class about each statement by a raise of hands or any other method you prefer. Invite students to assert and justify their opinions (middle schoolers like to do that, right?) Remember that the statements are purposefully debatable. The point is not to have right or wrong answers, but to invite students into the conversation the author is seeking to have with them.


3. Read the play.

Read Scope’s play Hercules the Mighty as a class.


4. Revisit the Guide.

Have students reread the statements in their Theme Anticipation Guides and reflect on the following questions in writing or a class discussion:

  • Did your experience with the text influence your opinions about each statement, perhaps by confirming your beliefs, challenging them, or causing them to shift completely?
  • How do the statements apply to Hercules the Mighty? For example, is Hercules’s identity affected by other people or by what happens to him? If so, how?


Let us know what you think of the Theme Anticipation Guide in the comments below!




Lauren Salisbury is Scopes Senior Education Editor.


Kristin Lewis

Last spring, a teacher wrote to me asking for more diverse types of culminating activities to go with our articles—ideas that go beyond the kinds of writing expected of students on standardized tests. She was looking for ideas that would allow for more creativity while still fostering deep text analysis and critical thinking.

My immediate reaction to her request? YES! YES! YES! 

Our team spent much of July thinking and exploring and researching. The result? A new offering in our teacher's guide that I couldn't be more excited about. It's called Differentiate and Customize. You'll find great ideas for all your learners plus a few gems to use if you want to go deeper.

Differentiate and Customize appears in each lesson plan and features four different culminating activities for you and your students.


Check out some of the new Differentiate and Customize ideas in the September Teacher's Guide:


Narrative nonfiction: "From War to America"



Play: Hercules the Mighty



Paired Texts: "The Amazing History of Dogs"


What should we work on next? Tell us in the comments below!




Drumroll please!


When we launched our first Write-a-Story fiction contest asking students to create a story around a first line written by author Lisa Yee, we didn't know what to expect. But Lisa and all of us here at Scope have been positively overwhelmed by the incredible talent and creativity of your students. After receiving nearly 2,000 entries, we are thrilled to announce that the winner of Scope's first Write-a-Story Contest is:


Hannah S. from Brown Summit Middle School in Browns Summit, North Carolina!




Here is what Lisa said about Hannah's story:

Hannah's story has a terrific second line, plus lots of mystery and intrigue, and a heartwarming ending.

You can read Hannah's wonderful story "Almost Happy Ending" here.


Congratulations to Hannah! And congratulations to all the finalists! Make sure to look out for details in the fall about next year's Write-a-Story Contest. 


“Babyfoot” by Brady G., Freeport, ME
"Delicious Memories" by Katharine M., Niskayuna, NY
“The Coach from Vermierte” by Sophie N., Irvine, CA
"An Amazing Recovery" by Stephanie N., Westlake, OH
"The Cow on Worcester Hill" by William D.M., Ramona, CA
"Voice From Its Cage” by Gabrielle R., Lansdale, PA
"Wolves Don’t Belong" by Gracie D., Hollis, NH
"Supernatural, Extraterrestrial" by Emily H., Enid, OK

Honorable Mentions
Mia C. E., Shaker Heights, OH
Riley K.., Gray, TN
Nicole N., Las Vegas, NV
Jady C., Brooklyn, NY
Jaden G., Ocean Springs, MS
Hunter S., Arapahoe, NE
Zachary Z., Gray, TN
Brynna K., Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Pranav K., Columbus, IN
Will H., Columbus, IN
Megan M., Point Pleasant, NJ
Alice X., Westfield, NJ
Ian J., Hackettstown, NJ
Alana T., New York, NY
McKenzie M., Renton, WA
Bethany M., Gallatin, TN


Scope's debate/scavenger hunts are a great way to practice analyzing arguments. Now we've created a lower-level version for students who need more scaffolding.

On-level scavenger hunt: Students must find the central idea, two pieces of supporting evidence, the counterargument, and the rebuttal.



Lower-level scavenger hunt: Students must find the central idea and two pieces of supporting evidence. Once students feel confident with these two skills, have them complete the on-level version. 


Go to Scope Online to find both levels of the debate/scavenger hunt and many other resources including Scope's guide to argument writing, an argument-essay checklist, a vocabulary activity, and more!


A free short story!
We've got a special treat for you: a free short story to pair with our March narrative nonfiction feature, "Black Sunday."

This original work of short fiction was written just for Scope by Rebecca Behrens, one of our author faves. It's the story of a family on the Southern Plains that lived through Black Sunday—the most devastating dust storm in American history. 

Download the story here for free! You will also find a set of close-reading and critical-thinking questions to help your students make connections between the story and the nonfiction article in your printed issue.

More materials about the Dust Bowl
Be sure to also check out this post with five additional resources about the Dust Bowl. And at Scope Online, don't miss a dazzling Time Machine video about life in the 1930s.