Keep the Learning Going

We can’t wait to hear about the discussions that ensue after your class reads this issue’s paired text “Could You Become A Mean Meme?” The articles take a timely look at online behavior and privacy. After reading the articles, use the essential questions below to kick off a class discussion. Then have students play Common Sense Media’s Digital Compass game, which invites students to explore how our digital decisions can affect our relationships. Students can then create posters about how to be a good digital citizen.


Essential Questions:

  • What is digital identity?
  • How does social media affect our lives?
  • What does it mean to grow up in a digital age?


Create a poster about how to be a good digital citizen.

1. In pairs, have students explore the Digital Compass. Students will be invited to explore various characters’ digital dilemmas and then test out possible solutions in an animated, choose-your-own-adventure-style game. We suggest that students explore the stories “Me! Me! Meme!” or “Insta-slammed," as they connect well to the articles and students will likely find them relevant to their own lives. (We also recommend you play these games yourself before sharing with students to make sure they are a good classroom fit.)

2. Have students create a poster that gives other students advice on how to be a good digital citizen. They should draw on information from “Could You Become A Mean Meme?", Digital Compass, and students' own personal experiences.

We can't wait for your students to dive into the December/January nonfiction "Escape From Alcatraz"a gripping story and an unsolved mystery about the infamous 1962 escape from Alcatraz Prison. While we were working on this exciting nonfiction package, we came across lots of fascinating resources. We've collected a few of our favorites for you and your students to explore after they read the article. Students may then choose to complete one of the extension activities below.


Four fascinating resources to keep your students’ learning going:

Guiding Question: What was it like to live on Alcatraz Island?



1. This video clip from the show “MythBusters” follows the hosts as they try to figure out if the prisoners could have successfully escaped. They even build their own raft out of raincoats!




2. You and your students can go on a virtual field trip to Alcatraz Island by using Google Earth. Once you locate the island, click on the stick figure icon and select any location highlighted in blue to enter “Street View” and explore the island as it is today.




3. These interviews between Al Capone Does My Shirts author Gennifer Choldenko and Alcatraz prisoners, guards, wardens’ children, and the daughter of Al Capone’s doctor, reveal what it was like to live and work on Alcatraz Island.



4. This museum exhibit from the National Park Service’s Alcatraz Island Museum features primary source slideshows, virtual tours, and sound clips.


Four engaging activities to choose from:

For Struggling Readers
In a well-organized paragraph, choose one piece of evidence that Morris and the Anglins made it and one piece of evidence that they did not. Explain how convincing each piece of evidence is.


For Advanced Readers
Which evidence do you find more convincing: the evidence that Morris and the Anglin brothers made it or that they did not? Do you think the truth will ever be known? Answer both questions in a well-organized essay.


For Creative Writers
Write a short story about the escape from Alcatraz from the point of view of Frank Morris or one of the Anglin brothers. Be sure to include their fate—that is, whether they survived or not.


For Historians
Create an exhibit for your school about the escape from Alcatraz. Your exhibit may include photos, videos, timelines, and replicas of artifacts. Give your classmates tours of your exhibit, as a museum guide would do. Note: This task is ideal for groups.


We were completely gripped by the story of the largest non-nuclear explosion in history: The 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor. One of our favorite resources we came across was an interactive timeline of the collision of the two ships, the Mont-Blanc and the Imo. After your students read the Scope article “The Shattered Sky,” explore this resource to discover more fascinating photos, primary sources, and a radio interview recounting another side of the story—that of Captain Francis Mackey. Afterwards, your students can complete the activity below.


The Imo aground on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour after the explosion (Nova Scotia Archives)


Guiding Question:

How did the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor affect the city of Halifax?


To Explore:

This interactive timeline created by historian and writer Janet Maybee illustrates the collision between the Mont-Blanc and the Imo. Have students listen to the radio interview with Pilot Francis Mackey as he recounts the events leading up to the explosion and the hours immediately afterward.


To Do:

Have students imagine that they are journalists from Nova Scotia in 1917 reporting on the events of the explosion. Using information from the interactive timeline and the Scope article “The Shattered Sky," students can do their report in the form of radio segment (using audio recording), a newspaper article, or a series of telegrams (using live tweets).

George Washington's dentures (Granger)

We had so much fun putting together the October 2017 paired text package about dentistry through the ages. We came across tons of great (and gross) information—and not everything made it into the article. So we've collected a few of our favorite resources here for your students to read and watch after they read the Scope article "The History of Teeth." Afterwards, your students can also choose from one of the activities below. 


Three fascinating resources to keep your students’ learning going:

Guiding Question: How has dental care changed over time?

1. This Smithsonian article tells the story of Painless Parker, an infamous dental con artist from the early 1900s.

2. In this video created by the museum at Mount Vernon, a curator analyzes a pair of George Washington’s dentures.

3. This article from Discover Magazine is all about a pair of ancient cavity-ridden teeth. They date back to about 13,000 years before modern dentistry and anesthesia.


Four engaging activities to choose from:

For Struggling Readers
Describe one way that dental care has improved over time and one challenge that we still face today. Use evidence from both texts to support your answer.

For Advanced Readers
Use details from “The History of Teeth” or “Where Are All the Dentists?” to support the following claim: We have come very far in our treatment of dental problems, yet we have not come far enough.

For Artists
Create a public service announcement about the importance of caring for teeth. Your PSA can be in the form of an infographic or a short video.

For Creative Writers
Choose two to four people mentioned in “The History of Teeth” or “Where Are All the Dentists?” Write a scene in which they are interviewed for a documentary about dental care past and present. Your scene may be in the form of a written transcript or a 3- to 4-minute video.


Geerati/Getty Images


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



For students who want to know more about bats



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. 

Kristin Lewis

Last February, I received a heartfelt note from one of Scope's advisors expressing concern about media literacy in this era of rampant fake news. Could I, he asked, address media literacy in an article in Scope? He wasn't the only one to ask. Many of you have reached out to me recently about your need for media literacy materials. "How do we equip students with the tools they need to be savvy, skeptical consumers of digital content?" is a question I hear again and again. That question is the reason I wrote this issue's paired text feature, "Are These Stories Real? (Nope.)"

Use the support materials below to help your students get the most of the article and keep the learning going.


1. Review important media literacy terms.

This handy list of terms will aid in comprehension as students read the article, watch the video, and complete the fact-checking activity. You'll want to keep this glossary for years to come. 



2. Watch the video.

Students get tips on how to be smart and savvy media consumers—from how to spot the difference between an advertisement and a news article to how to evaluate the credibility of a source. We recommend students watch the video after reading the article.



3. Complete the synthesizing graphic organizer.

This exquisitely simple activity will help students synthesize information from two texts: "Are These Stories Real? (Nope.)" and the folktale it's paired with in the magazine. (The activity is available on two levels.)




We were moved and inspired by Nick Ventura's story of grit and triumph after suffering a traumatic brain injury (Scope's May 2017 narrative nonfiction), and we think that your students will be as well. After reading the article, use the essential questions below to kick off a class discussion. Then break students into groups to create their own PSAs about helmet safety.


Essential Questions: 

  • Why is it important to wear a helmet?
  • How do people recover from serious injuries?
  • What is grit?


Create a PSA about Traumatic Brain Injuries

1. As a class, explore the CDC’s HEADS UP campaign website to learn more about traumatic brain injuries and sports safety. You’ll find fact sheets, infographics, personal stories, and videos. Here are some resources from the site that we think students will find especially useful:

Concussions explained

Concussion symptoms

Helmut safety facts and video

2. Divide students into groups and have them create PSAs about the importance of wearing a helmet while participating in sports. Students can draw on information from the article, the resources above, and their own research. The PSAs can be in the form of a poster, video, or PowerPoint presentation, and should include information about what traumatic brain injuries are, why it’s important to wear a helmet, and how to ensure you are wearing the right helmet for your sport.


Mackenzie Carro

We have put together a fantastic teaching kit for you and your students to use this Earth Day (April 22). The kit includes guiding questions, additional resources, and an extension activity to use after students read two texts in the April issue of Scope: a short informational article called “When Mosquitoes Were Killers in America,” about the fight against malaria, and a play called The Poison Sky, about Rachel Carson's crusade against the mass spraying of the pesticide DDT.


Guiding Questions

Post these questions in your classroom for students to refer to as they explore the resources below.

  1. What did Rachel Carson help the American public understand about nature?
  2. How did Carson's work impact our relationship with the environment?
  3. How can we protect nature?
  4. Why was DDT used widely?
  5. How much control should the government have over private property?


6 Fantastic Resources to Explore


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

1. Silent Spring excerpt
Have students read the first chapter of Silent Spring, titled "A Fable of Tomorrow." Ask: What is a fable? Why might Carson have chosen to begin her book this way?



Alfred Eisenstaedt/Getty Images

2. Silent Spring review
As a class, read this New York Times book review of Silent Spring. Ask students what the article reveals about how the public reacted to the ideas presented in Silent Spring.



CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

3. Rachel Carson interview (video)
As a class, watch this clip of an interview with Rachel Carson. Ask students what point Carson is making about human impact on the environment.



lfred Eisenstaedt/Getty Images

4. American Experience documentary about Rachel Carson
Watch the film as a class. As students watch, they should write down three new and significant things that they learn about Rachel Carson. When the film ends, have students share what they learned with the class and explain why these facts are important to know.




5. “Earth Day” poem by Jane Yolen
Read the poem as a class. Discuss the themes presented in the poem and how they relate to the themes of the play The Poison Sky and to the first chapter of Silent Spring.



CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

6. Rachel Carson's 1953 letter to the editor of the Washington Post
As a class, read this excerpt from Carson's letter. Ask: What was Carson's purpose in writing this letter? Why might she have decided to write it to the editor of the Washington Post? What does she mean by "The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth . . . "? What does she mean when she refers to a return to "the dark ages of unrestrained exploitation and destruction"?


Extension Activity

“As much as any book can, Silent Spring changed the world by describing it.” -Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist and author

Write or post this quote on a whiteboard. Have students sit in small groups to discuss what Kolbert means. As a class, discuss whether Kolbert was right. Students should draw on evidence from both “When Mosquitoes Were Killers in America” and The Poison Sky.

Adee Braun

In the April 2017 narrative nonfiction article "Betrayed By America," Scope editor and author Kristin Lewis tells the story of Bill Hiroshi Shishima—an 11-year-old American boy of Japanese heritage who, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, was forced to live in an internment camp during World War II.

To go deeper into this topic, we've put together a list of incredible resources and essential questions for you and your students. As a culminating activity, we recommend you break students into groups to create a multimedia exhibition. 


Exhibition Project

Have students work in groups to put together an exhibition about the internment of Japanese Americans, using information from the Scope article "Betrayed By America" and the resources below. Encourage students to get creative with the way they present the information. The exhibition can be multimedia and can include audio, video, posters, poetry, presentations, speeches, and even a play.


Here are a few ideas:

  • Imagine you are living in 1941. Create your own news coverage in the form of a newspaper article, broadcast, or series of live tweets.
  • After reading the poem "Children of Camp" which accompanies the article "Betrayed By America," complete the Poetry Analysis Activity at Scope Online, and then write your own poem about life in an internment camp.
  • Create a play about another Japanese American who lived through internment using one of the many video interviews on the Densho organization's archives website. (TIP: Use any of Scope's historical plays as a model text.)
  • Put together an exhibit about the internment of Japanese Americans, including photographs, posters, and video. Appoint one group member to be the museum tour guide.


Essential Questions

  • What is the connection between fear and prejudice?
  • What is the cost of racism?
  • Why is it important to be mindful of history?
  • How can we learn from the mistakes of the past?



Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


1. The New York Times' photo slideshow featuring rarely seen photos from the time of the internment of Japanese Americans

2. Densho's timeline of events related to the internment of Japanese Americans

3. Video interview of Bill Hiroshi Shishima. NOTE: To view this content on the Densho organization's website, you must log in as '' and use the password 'guest'. All 26 segments of the interview can be viewed here. Below are the segments in which Bill discusses life at Heart Mountain:

“Memories of the train ride to Heart Mountain”

“Attending school in camp”

“Coping with the unpleasant living conditions in camp”

4. Website of "A More Perfect Union," a Smithsonian exhibition about the internment of Japanese Americas

5. President Roosevelt's famous address to the United Nations "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch a video here, or read the transcript here.

6. Speech by President Ronald Reagan after signing the Japanese American Internment Compensation Bill in 1988. A print version of the speech can be found here.

7. Scope's Behind the Scenes video in which author Kristin Lewis discusses how she researched and wrote the article "Betrayed By America"

We can’t wait for your students to read our thrilling play War of the Worlds in the March issue of Scope. It's based on the classic alien-invasion novel by H.G. Wells.

Your students may not be familiar with the story of the famous 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. Some listeners at the time thought that real aliens were actually invading Earth. To help your students connect the play to this important moment in American history, we've put together this fantastic list of resources and discussion questions.


Orson Welles (left back) directing a rehearsal of his radio adaptation of 'The War of the Worlds,' on October 1938. (Getty)


Have students read and listen to at least one of these resources before the class discussion:


Discuss the "War of the Worlds" broadcast 

1. As a class, listen to the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” Have students take notes while they listen, especially on any parts of the broadcast that sound real or convincing.

2. Divide students into groups and have them discuss the broadcast. What were their favorite parts? Which parts of the broadcast, if any, did they find most believable?

3. Bring the students back together and hold a class discussion. Ask students why they think people in the 1930s may have thought the broadcast was real, and whether or not they think that something like this could happen again today. Have students consider how people used to get their news in the 1930s—from newspapers and the radio—and how people get news today.