End of the Year
When I go on school visits and do Google Hangouts with students, one of the questions I'm always asked is, "Where do you get your story ideas?" The answer? Everywhere. I am always on the lookout for great stories to tell in Scope. I find ideas in books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, podcasts, and museums, and from friends, teachers, and—of course, middle-schoolers! After all, middle-schoolers are our readers.
As I start planning what will go into the pages of Scope next year, I thought it would be great to invite students to pitch us their very best ideas for Scope nonfiction articles. For those of you who are still in school, this is a creative and meaningful activity that I think your students will really get into. To help them organize their pitches, we created this handy form. Gather the completed forms and send them to ScopeIdeabook@Scholastic.com or fax it to us (212) 343-4475 or mail it us at:
Attn: Adee Braun
New York, NY 10012
Please note that we cannot accept forms submitted directly from students.
Please share with your students the following list of things we look for in a great Scope article. A story doesn't have to have ALL of these elements but it should have more than one.
A great Scope article is a story that . . .
1. . . . captivates your imagination.
We love stories that make you want to learn more about a topic. For example, "Escape from Alcatraz" is an action-packed story that leaves readers pondering over how the prisoners escaped from the most famous prison in America. It's fascinating, suspenseful, and thrilling!
2. . . . brings to life a little-known event that sheds light on an important part of history.
We love stories that tell a surprising side of a larger story that readers might already know about. That's why we love "The Shattered Sky," for example, which is about a little-known accident that happened during World War I.
3. . . . helps you understand something important going on right now.
We often cover important, complex events that are happening right now. One of our most important recent articles was about the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
4. . . . is relevant to YOUR life.
We can't get enough of stories that are about an aspect of what it's like to be a middle school kid. For example, we love this debate about whether texting and walking should be banned, because it's a topic that most kids will have strong opinions on.
5. . . . makes you think.
"They Failed. (And So Can You.)," is one of our favorite stories of the year because it challenges readers to think differently about their own mistakes and missteps.
6. . . . inspires you to take action.
Some of the best Scope stories inspire young people to make a difference. After reading this article about the rescue of a baby elephant, one 6th grade class in North Carolina actually adopted an elephant in Kenya.
7. . . . introduces you to someone with grit, resilience, or other important human qualities.
Sharing a story about an amazing person who overcame great odds is something that we never get tired of doing. When we heard about Yusra Mardini, a refugee who escaped war-torn Syria and went on to compete in the Olympics, we knew it was the perfect story for Scope.
Editor's Note: We were so moved when we heard that 6th-grade ELA teacher Kim Burch of Louisville, Kentucky, and her class had donated school supplies to students in Flint, Michigan, after reading the Scope interview "Little Miss Flint," in which 10-year-old Mari Copeny talks about her efforts to increase awareness about the water crisis and the needs of young people in her hometown. One of Kim's fellow teachers drove up to Flint to hand-deliver the supplies to Mari.
Reading the Scope Articles
Throughout the year, I wanted to get my students thinking about their how they could be changemakers right now and not wait until they are older to make a difference. After reading and discussing the Scope article "What If This Was Your Water?" and the accompanying interview with Mari Copeny, "Little Miss Flint," my students really connected with Mari's desire to not just help bring clean water to the people of Flint, but also to provide the kids of Flint with other basic necessities. My students decided they wanted to do something to help too.
In the Scope interview we learned that Mari had donated backpacks to Flint school kids through the nonprofit Pack Your Back. After some discussion as a class, my students got energized about the idea of donating school supplies to students in Flint and decided that was how they wanted to help. They really took ownership of the project and worked in groups to create letters to send home to parents and guardians explaining the project and requesting money to buy the supplies—even if for just one pen. Then they went shopping.
Over the next few days, donations came pouring into the classroom. I thought we would muster a few notebooks and pencils, but my students blew me away by gathering enough notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, markers, and glue sticks to fill three large boxes!
Connecting with Mari
Seeing the huge load we had gathered, one of my fellow teachers, Adriana Thornton, volunteered to drive six hours from our school in Louisville, Kentucky, all the way to Flint, Michigan, and deliver the boxes to Mari in person! I connected with Mari over Twitter and told her about how my students had been inspired by her, and we arranged to deliver the supplies to her and her mother. Mari and her mother then gave the boxes to Pack Your Back, which dispensed the supplies to kids in Flint who needed them. After the boxes were delivered, I spoke to Mari and thanked her for being such as inspiration, not only to my students, but to me as well. We were only able to connect over the weekend, so my students weren't on the call with me. But my students already feel like they know her!
None of my students had ever been a part of a donation campaign before this, and they got so into it! They were thrilled to connect with Mari, and they were so excited when she tweeted about receiving the boxes—it made them feel like superstars! They felt inspired by Mari and empowered by what they could achieve and their ability to make a difference in other peoples' lives. As we head into the summer, we have been discussing as a class ways that they can find something they are passionate about and use it to take action in their own community. I can't wait to see what they do next!
Kimberly Burch is a 6th grade ELA teacher at Ramsey Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky.
We are obsessed with Kahoot and we think you will be too. It's a rare tool that engages all students, is great for multiple learning styles, creates opportunities for collaboration and interaction, and makes assessment a breeze. It's also super fun. Bonus!
Kahoot quizzes are extremely versatile and can be used as fun practice with practically any Scope text. Kahoot is perfect for those last few minutes if you finish class early or for the final weeks of the school year.
In this post, I'm going to show you how a Scope grammar activity can easily be turned into a Kahoot quiz.
What Is Kahoot?
For the uninitiated, Kahoot is a game-based learning platform in which a teacher's device becomes the playstation and student devices become the controllers. You create a quiz, project it for your class to see, and have students enter the answers on their devices. You can use player vs. player mode with 1:1 devices (for students to play one-on-one) or team vs. team mode on shared devices (for groups to play against one another). You can even use a screenshare platform like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Screencastify to play Kahoot with classrooms in one of the other 180 countries using Kahoot around the world. You can create your own Kahoot in the form of a quiz, survey, or discussion starter. Or you can use or adapt ready-made Kahoots from a growing public library of almost 12,000,000.
Create your free account here. (Students do not need their own accounts to play.) While you can play pre-existing Kahoots (such as my quiz) without an account, having your own account will allow you to save quiz scores and track your students' progress, and it will allow you to create your own Kahoots in the future.
Here's how you can use my Scope Kahoot quiz in your classroom.
What You'll Need:
Teacher device (phone, tablet, desktop, or laptop)
Student devices (shared or 1:1–laptops, desktops, tablets, or phones)
The Scope article “Grammar Steps Into a Glacier”
My Kahoot quiz
10-15 minutes of class time
Distinguishing between commonly-confused words
1. Read the article.
Read Scope's grammar article “Grammar Steps Into a Glacier” with your class and review the grammar rules for "less" and "fewer."
2. Choose how you want to play.
Open my Kahoot quiz on your teacher device and project it on a screen for the class to see. Make sure your speakers are on. (Yes, there's music!) Here you can decide if you want your students to play one-on-one or in teams.
3. Have students enter the pin.
A pin number will appear on your screen. Have students go to https://kahoot.it on their devices (they can also download the Kahoot app, but using a browser is just as easy) and enter the pin.
4. Have students enter their nicknames.
Students will then be prompted to enter nicknames (these can be fun and creative) on their devices. These names will show up as a list of "players" on your projected screen.
Once everyone has chosen a nickname, press START and enjoy!
Here's what the first question on my quiz looks like on your screen (left) and students' screens (right):
Each student will have 20 seconds to answer each question. (When you make your own quizzes, you can choose a time limit between 5 and 120 seconds.)
At the end of each question, you will see how many players answered the question correctly and incorrectly. (It was just me playing the quiz pictured here, so there's only one player answer. I got it right! Wahoo!)
At the end of the quiz you will see a scoreboard with the top five players. If you've created an account, the scores and the quiz will be saved there.
Building your own Kahoot is easy. Here's a step-by-step guide. Kahoots are a simple and fun way to practice and assess any number of skills with your class. But be warned, your students will get hooked! (And you will probably too.)
Happy grammar gaming!
Lauren Salisbury is Scope's Senior Education Editor and a former classroom teacher.
Every issue of Scope includes several opportunities for students to enter contests and win great prizes. (Check out our current contests here.) We are always blown away by the creativity and talent of our readers. Here are just a few of our favorite winning entries to contests that have appeared in Scope throughout the year. You can download all of the entries below and use them as models with your students next year. Enjoy!
Gave Us the Chills
Evan A., Grade 6
Central Intermediate School in Washington, IL
"They're everywhere . . . and they're coming to get us!!" Evan's heart-pounding horror movie trailer for the Handwashing Contest is both dramatic and informative, with lots of great tips on how to wash your hands the right way to get rid of germs.
Made Us Think
Ava P., Grade 7
Kingsway Regional Middle School in Woolwich, NJ
Ava’s essay on superheroes for the Heroes Contest features a vivid and gripping introduction and a well-constructed argument about why superheroes don’t have to have super powers—they can be everyday people like firefighters and friends.
Filled Us with Delight
Nicholas P., Grade 7
Springboro Jr. High School in Springboro, OH
Nicholas's slideshow for the Phone Manners Contest is one of the most creative visual presentations we saw all year. His scenarios of rude phone behavior are funny and oh-so-true to life!
Jada K., Grade 7
Kendrick Middle School in Jonesboro, MS
We just love this beautiful poem that Jada wrote for the Rachel Carson Contest. It's both lyrical and persuasive—making the case that Rachel Carson's legacy should be honored by an official holiday in her name.
Made Us Feel Like We Were Right There
Lily A., Grade 7
Las Vegas Day School in Las Vegas, NV
Lily's descriptive writing passage for the Piper Contest is so vivid and inventive. We were especially delighted by her creative description of Piper's tongue as "rough as sandpaper and as pink as frosting on a little girl’s birthday cake." So great!
Vivienne Chen Scope's contest judge and intern.
Editor's Note: We are so in love with Kim O'Bray's student-led project. After reading about tardigrades in a Scope infographic, Kim's students became fascinated by these microscopic critters. (We totally get why—tardigrades can survive 10 years without food or water!) So Kim turned her students' interest into an opportunity to do independent research and a creative project. We think this is a great activity for the end of the school year.
None of us had ever heard of a tardigrade before we read the infographic "The Amazing Tardigrade" in Scope (September 2015). After completing their contest entries (writing paragraphs arguing that the tardigrade should be the school mascot), my students were clamoring to find out more about this curious creature. So, I grabbed the opportunity and had them do independent research on the tardigrade. They were tasked with discovering anything and everything about tardigrades and then presenting their findings to the class in a creative way. Some students worked alone while others worked in groups, but they all came up with inventive ways to present their research.
speaking, listening, independent research, using multiple mediums to visually express information
1-2 class periods (time out of class to create presentations will vary)
Several students wrote fiction stories about the tardigrade and even illustrated them.
Some students created comics featuring the tardigrade as a crime-fighting superhero.
One group made a 3-D model of a tardigrade using a pillowcase for the body and attaching index cards with factoids to each of the tardigrade's many feet. This model hung in my classroom all year long!
Have your own creative end-of-year project ideas? Tell us about them in the comments below!
Kim O’Bray teaches reading to 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders at Pittsburg Community Middle School in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Looking for a creative activity for those last weeks of the school year? We've got just the thing! After reading our fascinating short text about a famous bat colony in Texas, guide students along their own learning journey.
For all students
- Have students complete the descriptive writing activity from the May 2017 issue of Scope about the biggest bat colony in the world. (It's home to over 15 million bats!)
- For descriptive writing tips, watch a video in which author Lauren Tarshis shares her techniques for creating rich and evocative writing.
- For support, students can read our model text and complete the lower-level version of the activity.
For students who want to know more about bats
- Watch this stunning video which shows the millions of bats flying out of their cave.
- Read this fascinating post listing the many misconceptions about bats. (Hint: They aren't mice with wings.)
- Read this incredible novel by Kenneth Oppel about a bat colony fighting for survival during prehistoric times.
For students who want to do more descriptive writing
Here's another mesmerizing video that students can watch and then use to write their own descriptive paragraph about the scene. Challenge them to drop their readers in the scene with vivid, sensory details and to use similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia.
Editor's Note: Amy Sylvester's creative multimedia project is just the thing for those final weeks of the school year. After reading, discussing, and analyzing a Scope play, Amy's students turn it into a gorgeous digital flipbook by recording a reading of the play and illustrating it themselves. This fun and collaborative project can be done whether or not you're a 1:1 classroom. It calls for just a few devices and some basic software. Amy and her fellow teacher Matt Mankiewicz collaborated on this project.
I do this project at least three times a year with Scope plays—which are always a big hit in my classroom. I love this project because it builds students' reading confidence and lets them stretch their creative muscles. It's also great fun! For the example project described below, I used the The Tell-Tale Heart (based on the classic Poe story) from the September issue of the magazine.
What you'll need:
any Scope play, such as this one
at least one iPad or computer per group
movie editing software, such as iMovie, or presentation software, such as PowerPoint or Keynote
audio recording software, such as GarageBand
speaking; listening; using multiple mediums, including digital media, to visually express information
5-6 class periods: 3 periods to practice reading the play and create the pictures, and another 2-3 periods to record the play, choose music and sound effects, and put the slideshow together
NOTE: By the time students do this project, they have already read and analyzed the play in class and learned about Edgar Allan Poe.
1. Divide students into groups and do a practice run
- Divide the class into groups of 8-10 students. The groups should be big enough so that each student gets at least one part. If there aren't enough parts to go around, some students can take on multiple roles.
- Have students highlight their role(s) in the magazine so they can follow along easily.
- Have each group read through the play once or twice for practice. By this point in the unit, they have all read the play 3-5 times before, so they are very familiar with it.
- As the groups practice reading their roles, circulate around the room offering tips and advice.
2. Record the play
- Once the students are comfortable reading their parts, they find a quiet spot in the classroom, gather around in a circle, and record a reading of the play.
- You can use any audio recording software, but I like GarageBand because it's pre-loaded on our iPads. Since we are 1:1, I have all the students record the play on their own devices so that they each have their own recording to refer back to as the create their illustrations. If you are not 1:1, students can record on one device and then share the audio files with the group using Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.
- The recording sometimes takes two tries to get it right, so this can be a little time consuming.
- As the groups record, continue circulating around the room to make sure they are on the right track.
3. Create a storyboard
- Students determine as a group which parts of the play they want to illustrate, considering which elements are most important and which lend themselves best to visual representation.
- The students create a storyboard on Google Docs (so that it can be shared among the group members), sketching out what each illustration will look like.
- Review all the completed storyboards and provide feedback to each group to help refine their ideas.
- Once the storyboards are set, the students divide up the illustrations so that each student creates about three. Each group should end up with about 23 illustrations for a 10-minute recording.
- I created the below document for groups to keep track of who is creating which illustrations.
4. Create illustrations and add sound effects
- Students create their illustrations then scan them.
- I like using iMovie to create the digital flipbook, but you can use any simple movie editing software, or even PowerPoint.
- Students upload their images and organize them according to their storyboard.
- At this point students also add music (iMovie has copyright-free music, but students can choose to add their own music too) to enhance the mood of the play. They can also record sound effects for extra pizzazz (such as opening a squeaky door or beating shoes against the floor to simulate clomping horses).
5. Share it out
- Have each group share their finished product with the rest of the class. (Google Docs is an easy way to do this.)
- Each group selects one person to talk about the group's work, walking through their process and decisions, and highlighting any challenges they encountered.
- Because each recording is about 10 minutes long, it's impossible to share them all in class, so I post all the movies on Google Classroom so that students can watch everything on their own time.
6. Peer review
- Assign students the task of watching 2-3 of the flipbooks and providing feedback to their peers. I think it's important for students to have an opportunity to provide constructive peer feedback. Through this process they also learn how they might approach the project differently next time.
By the end of the unit, even the most reluctant readers have become very confident because they have been so deeply engaged and feel they have ownership over the work. This translates to improved fluency, no matter the students' reading level. I am always surprised by the kids who typically don’t volunteer to read aloud in class but who become very engaged and perform impressively nuanced readings. And there's a part in this project for every student—more technologically inclined students can play a larger role in editing the slideshow and the sound effects, while more artistic students can help think up inventive ways to visualize the story. Even though each group is using the same source material, I'm always astonished by the diversity of the flipbooks that students produce!
Here's an example of a finished project:
Amy Sylvester is a 6th-grade teacher at Golden Hill Elementary School in Fullerton, California.
Matt Mankiewicz, a fellow Golden Hill teacher, collaborated with Amy on this project.