Editor's Tip

Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with woolly mammoths, Ulysses S. Grant had a need for speed. George Washington had a soft spot for stray dogs. Read these and other fascinating factoids about U.S. Presidents while practicing the use of "passed" and "past" in Scope's February 2018 grammar. You'll never look at past presidents the same way again!

Looking for a fun and engaging reading activity for your reluctant readers? Scope teacher advisor and Scholastic Top Teacher Blogger Mary Blow has just the thing! She has designed a set of activities for students to do before, during, and after reading Lauren Tarshis's riveting new book in the I Survived Series, I Survived the American Revolution, 1776. In this post, Mary explains how she uses the activity in her classroom, incorporating video, a Scope play, and the nonfiction feature in the March issue of Scope.


Go on a Virtual Field Trip with Your Students!

Don't forget to sign up to view a special webcast of Lauren Tarshis' virtual field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution on February 7!

As we celebrate Black History Month in February, the Scope team wanted to share with you and your students some of our favorite quotes of courage and inspiration—not just for this month, but for the entire year.

You can dowload and print these quotes and post them around your classroom.









San Francisco International Airport

We are serious animal lovers here at Scope, so it is no surprise that writing February’s Lazy Editor brought us much joy (and ooooing and awwwwwing).

In this article, students learn about LiLou the pig, an adorably costumed therapy animal who eases travelers’ anxiety at San Francisco International Airport. After reading, students analyze mentor sentences and edit one paragraph of the article using rules they created for punctuating lists. We recommend you end the class with the following warm-and-fuzzy exit ticket.


Therapy animals exit ticket:
1. Watch these two stress-be-gone videos.

Adorable miniature therapy horses bring comfort and joy to kids and adults alike.


Playful golden retrievers help stressed-out travelers at the Mumbai international airport.


2. Using information from the article and both videos, explain in one paragraph how therapy animals can benefit humans. Include at least one list of three items and one list of two items and punctuate them properly.

For students needing additional practice punctuating lists, check out these activities:

February’s nonfiction feature “Escape From Slavery” tells the story of the remarkable Harriet Tubman. Her story and that of the Underground Railroad are the subject of many fantastic works of fiction and nonfiction—perfect for literature circles. We’ve compiled some of our favorite books across genres and Lexiles so you can mix and match according to your students' needs and interests.

To get things started, here are some essential questions that connect these books with the article “Escape From Slavery.”


Guiding Questions

  • What is it like to live without freedom?
  • Why is it important to learn about slavery?
  • How do people fight oppression?
  • What is the legacy of the Underground Railroad?


Check your library for these amazing books:

Trouble Don’t Last by Shelley Pearsall
(novel, 720L)

Samuel searches for freedom and his mother on a journey from Kentucky to Canada that is full of action, heartbreak, and hope.



Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
(novel, 980L)

Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit, Michigan. Elijah journeys back to America to help a friend trying to buy his family out of captivity in the South.



Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg
(novel in verse, 900L)

This novel in verse illuminates the stories of runaway slaves who sought sanctuary in the Great Dismal Swamp, located between North Carolina and Virginia. Native Americans took refuge in this swamp for thousands of years, and today, it is a federal wildlife refuge. Poetry lovers will thank you.



Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Written by Himself  by Frederick Douglass
(autobiography, 1040L)

This classic is a Common Core Text Exemplar for grades 6-8, and it's also a great source for excerpts for close reading. 



Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
(informational text, 1000L)

This is another great Common Core Text Exemplar for grades 6-8. It will allow your students to dig deeper into the life of Harriet Tubman.



True North by Kathryn Lasky
(novel, 780L)

An abolitionist's granddaughter and an escaped slave traveling on the Underground Railroad are the protagonists in this adventure novel. Revolutionaries Robert Gould Shaw, Abigail Adams, and Ralph Waldo Emerson make appearances too. 



The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale
(graphic novel, GN370L)

The story of freedom fighter Araminta Ross (better known as Harriet Tubman) is told in this graphic novel. Perfect for reluctant readers.



Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
(novel, 820L)

This is the third book of the Seeds of America trilogy, which is no doubt already a student favorite. Ashes follows Isabel to the South in the midst of the Revolutionary War where she searches for her enslaved sister.




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.



Personalized letters about Scope for you to share with your students' families!

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. So we've created a letter that introduces parents and guardians to Scope and provide simple tips for sharing the joy of reading with their children.



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



In the May 2017 paired text feature of Scope, "Are These Stories True? (Nope.)", your students read all about the history of fake news. In the article and accompanying video, they also got lots of tips on how to spot fake stories and unreliable sources. Now you can give your students this self-guided activity to practice the media literacy skills presented in the article and the video. It's great for small group work! 


Here’s how we recommend you use the fact-checking activity in your classroom: 


  • This Fact-Checking activity asks students to find and fix incorrect and misleading information in an article about junk food. Have students complete it after they read the article and watch the video.
  • Students can work in groups or on their own.
  • When students finish, bring the class back together to share what students have discovered.


fact-checking activity


For more media literacy resources, check out this post.

"More modeling, please!" We hear this often from teachers who are looking for more ways to support their students. Well, we've got your covered!

We've created two model texts for you to use with our You Write It activity.


What You'll Need:


Here's how we recommend using the model texts:
(All images below are downloadable.)


Step 1
As a class, preview Scope's You Write It titled "Why Pigs Rule."


Step 2
Pass out and discuss the model text. Choose the version without annotations or, for students who need additional support, the version with annotations.




Step 3
Now it's time for students to write an essay of their own. First review the You Write It "Why You Should Sing" from the April 2017 issue of Scope.


Step 4
Have students follow the guidelines at the bottom of the You Write It to write and edit their essays, using "Why Pigs Rule" as a model. Students can also use the Guided Writing activity which walks them through the process of writing their essays.


We know your students can't get enough practice with inference. That's why we include an inference activity which every issue of Scope as part of the Core Skills Workout—a collection of eight skill-based activities designed to help students "bulk up" in the skills they need most to become strong, analytical readers.


You'll love this inference activity

In the May 2017 issue of Scope, don't miss the making inferences activity that goes along with the exciting play The Doomed Quest




Check out our inference handout

And don't miss the reference handout for more inference practice. You can find it and dozens of other fabulous handouts and use-it-anytime activities on everything from identifying mood to using text evidence in the Activity Library at Scope Online.

These activities are great test-readiness tools and provide a simple way to refresh key skills any time of year.

Click the image to download.


TIP! After students complete the activity on the handout, have them work in groups to create their own questions, modeled on the questions in the activity. Then have students trade with their classmates.