End of the Year
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.