Big News

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.



We are thrilled to offer you an exciting new feature in Scope this year: personalized letters about Scope for you to share with your students' families!

The letters will introduce parents and guardians to Scope and provide simple tips for sharing the joy of reading with their children. We realize how vital the home-to-school connection is for student success, and our goal is to make it easier for you to build that bridge.



Here's What You'll Find With Each Issue of Scope:

  • An introductory letter, which gives an overview of Scope and offers tips for exploring any issue of the magazine at home
  • An issue-specific letter with ideas for talking about articles in the current issue
  • An optional page to send home with the classroom password for the Student View of Scope Online, if you wish to do so
  • A choice of PDF or Word documents
  • Letters in both English and Spanish

We will publish new letters at Scope Online with every issue of the magazine. Simply select the pages you wish to distribute, then either send them home with students, post them on your class website, email them to parents, or hand them out on back-to-school night.

The Word documents allow you to personalize the letters, or to copy and paste them into a text, or use any other method to communicate with parents or guardians. You can also copy them into a translation program if you need them in a language other than English or Spanish.


Let me know what you think of these letters by posting your comments below!



Lauren Salisbury is Scope's 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.


We can't wait for your students to try this delightful vocabulary activity! Students practice using new words they have learned by applying them to the titles and summaries of imaginary books.

Check out the vocab activity for the article "Black Sunday" (March issue of Scope), then scroll down to for ideas on using the activity in your classroom.



Here's how to use this vocabulary activity:

1. Review the vocabulary words and definitions
2. Have students complete the book title activity either on their own or as a group.
3. Have students come up with their own book title activity, using the Scope activity as a model. Encourage them to be creative!
4. Partner students up to complete each other's activities.


The entries are pouring in for Scope's very first Write-a-Story contest, in which your students write a short story using a first line by Lisa Yee. If your students haven't entered yet, they still have time—but not much. The deadline is March 10th.


Say hello to Viv, our intrepid Contest Coordinator!


Remember, if your student wins, he or she will get $100 and YOU will get a free year's subscription to Scope plus a class set of Lisa Yee's novel Warp Speed. For more info, including rules and how to enter, visit the Write-a-Story website.


Wishing your students happy writing!