Keep the Learning Going
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:
- Smithsonian.com article: "The Infamous 'War of the Worlds' Radio Broadcast Was a Magnificent Fluke"
- NPR blog post: "75 Years Ago, 'War Of The Worlds' Started A Panic. Or Did It?"
- Radiolab podcast: "War of the Worlds: The Annotated Guide"
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.
We've put together some wonderful resources and extension activities for you and your students to delve into after they read and discuss "Black Sunday," Lauren Tarshis's riveting article in the March 2017 issue of Scope about the dust storms that ravaged the American Southern Plains during the 1930s. Enjoy!
Here are five fascinating resources to keep your students’ learning going:
To Read: a timeline of the Dust Bowl, which includes information about how the government responded to the dust storms and what was done to repair the land after Black Sunday
To Do: Using text evidence from the timeline and from the Scope article "Black Sunday," have students write a problem-solution essay about the causes of Black Sunday and the solutions that were implemented.
To Watch: a video of Catherine Hattrup remembering life during the Dust Bowl years
To Do: Have students create an original play with Catherine Hattrup as the main character. The play should have a full plot, characters, narrators, and stage directions, and should draw on information from the video, the Scope article "Black Sunday," and one additional source of students' choosing. TIP: Use any Scope drama as a model text.
To Do: Hold a class discussion about the relationship between humans and the environment. What responsibility do humans have towards the environment? How can humans balance economic goals while being mindful of the environment?
To Do: Woody Guthrie, the American folk singer, wrote several songs about the Dust Bowl—in fact, his nickname was "Dust Bowl Troubadour." Hold a class discussion about the two songs students just heard, having students consider the themes of devastation and fear in Guthrie's songs as well as the descriptive details that he weaves into his lyrics. Then have students write their own song lyrics or poem about Black Sunday using details from the Scope article and one additional source, such as the photo gallery or the video of Catherine Hattrup.
Environmental disaster research project
Divide the class into small groups and assign each group a different human-caused environmental disaster to research. After each group has completed its research, have students present their findings to the class. As a class, discuss what these environmental disasters can teach us and why it is important to study them.
Topics that students might explore include:
The article "Can She Be Saved?" in your December/January issue is one of our all-time favorites. It's about Ishanga, an orphaned baby elephant who nearly died after poachers killed her mother. Though Ishanga's story has a happy ending, the global problem of poaching continues to decimate wildlife, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. We hope your students will be inspired to learn more about poaching, including why it's a problem and what can be done to solve it. We have compiled five powerful resources just for you and your students.
Here are five powerful resources to guide your students’ learning journey:
To Do: As a class, watch the two videos and go to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s website to learn more about the incredible organization that saved Ishanga's life. You’ll find images, videos, and information about all of the Trust’s orphans. (We particularly recommend the footage of the Trust's keepers interacting with the elephants.) Hold a class discussion about what new information and insights students gain from these resources—that is, about the information contained in these resources that is not included in the article.
Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service destroy confiscated ivory trinkets in New York City. (Getty Images)
To Do: After studying the map and infographic as a class, divide students into groups and have them create PSAs about the poaching crisis. Students can draw on information from the paired texts, 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 why poaching is a concern and what can be done to help solve the problem.
A park ranger in Kenya trains to catch poachers. (Getty Images)
To Watch: a video about a former poacher
To Do: Hold a class discussion about some of the reasons a person might become a poacher, using information from the paired texts and the video. What can be done to prevent a person from becoming a poacher in the first place?
A park ranger guards a burning pile of ivory in Nairobi, Kenya after the government called for 15 tons of elephant tusks to be set on fire in an effort to deter illegal poaching. (Getty Images)
To Read: a website outlining the causes and impacts of elephant poaching
To Do: Using information from the paired texts and from the website above, have students create a poster or chart showing the causes and effects of poaching.
To Research: other threatened species and conservation efforts
To Do: Divide students into groups and have each group research a species other than elephants or rhinos that are being threatened by humans, whether because of poaching, habitat loss, or pollution. What effects are these threats having on the animals? What efforts are being made to save the animals? What else can be done? Each group can present their findings to the rest of the class. Students should use reliable sources such as the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic, the Africa Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
We can't wait for your students to read our riveting narrative nonfiction article, "Disaster in Space" by Lauren Tarshis. It's the fascinating story of the Apollo 13 mission and its near disastrous fate. After you've read and discussed the text with your class, send your students on their own mission to learn more with these fantastic resources.
Here are five fascinating resources to keep your students’ learning going:
To Read: an article from Space.com about how the Apollo 13 astronauts were feeling throughout the mission
To Do: Based on information in the Scope article and the Space.com article, have students write an account of the Apollo 13 mission as though they were a fourth astronaut on board. What would it have felt like, physically and emotionally? Students should weave in the main events of the mission along with descriptions of the smells, sounds, tastes, and sights of space travel.
To Read: a New York Times article from April 14, 1970, about the Apollo 13 disaster
To Do: Have students imagine that this event happened today and create their own news coverage of the event in the form of a newspaper article, broadcast, or series of live tweets.
(The Everett Collection)
To Do: Using information from the clip and the article, have students write an essay or create a chart explaining the problems the Apollo 13 mission faced and how the astronauts and the ground crew solved those problems.
The Apollo 13 crew after their successful landing back on Earth (NASA)
To Watch: a video about why the Apollo 13 mission is often called NASA's most successful failure
To Do: Hold a class discussion about why the Apollo mission is sometimes called a successful failure. What is the definition of success? How can a failure also be a success? What was successful about the Apollo 13 mission?
To Watch: a video presentation about why it's important for humans to go to outer space
To Do: Hold a class debate about whether or not humans should explore outer space—whether to the moon, Mars, or beyond. Have students work in groups and then present their argument to the class using evidence from the video, Scope article, and two other reliable sources of their choosing.
"The main thing is to not just sit there and sulk over something that bothers you. Go out and talk to people about it!" —Gabrielle Posard
One of our missions in Scope is to bring your students content that will not only inspire and engage them but that will also help them understand that they have agency in their lives and communities. That's why we hope you'll share with your students an interview that we did with a remarkable young person who saw a problem and did something about it.
At the age of 12, Gabriel Posard started a program called Donate Don't Dump, which brings unsold food from supermarkets—food that would otherwise go to waste—to people in need in her community.
We learned about Gabrielle while researching our nonfiction story about food waste, "This Apple Could Have Been Saved," which you can find in the October issue of Scope.
After reading the article and the interview below, discuss the following as a class:
- Why does food get wasted?
- What problems does food waste create?
- How are those problems being solved? How are they not being solved?
- How can we as a society be less wasteful?
Gabrielle Posard, age 19, student at Stanford University
Hometown: San Diego, California
Claim to fame: She founded the food rescue organization Donate Don't Dump.
Gabrielle at a food distribution event in San Diego
Scope: How did you get the idea to start Donate Don’t Dump?
Gabrielle: It all started when I was 12. My older sister was working on a documentary film for school about hunger in America and she told me two statistics that really stood out: 96 billion pounds of food are wasted very year, yet one in seven people are food insecure. (I’m pretty sure those numbers have gone up since then.) I learned that grocery stores throw out a lot of food because shoppers think that once food reaches its sell-by date, it isn’t safe to eat. But in fact, food is perfectly edible for about a week after the sell-by date, if properly refrigerated. That got me thinking: All that food is going into a landfill when it could be given to people who need it. I talked to my parents about all this. I was getting riled up, as I usually do when I’m dissatisfied with something in the world. My mom told me that I could take action. She made me feel like my idea wasn’t just some silly kid idea. She made me feel like I could actually change things.
Gabrielle during the early years of Donate Don't Dump
Scope: What was the first thing you did to put your idea into action?
Gabrielle: I came up with the name Donate Don’t Dump, and I created a Facebook page to inform people about the issue of food waste. I started talking to my friends about my idea to rescue food from supermarkets and bring it to hungry people. Then my aunt, who is a lawyer, helped make Donate Don’t Dump an official nonprofit organization. At first it was just me, my sister, and some friends. I started going to local events at the North County Food Bank and city council meetings, which are open to the public. I remember after one city council meeting, I gave my elevator pitch for Donate Don’t Dump to the head of a supermarket chain, and he patted me on the head and told me it was a cute idea. I faced a lot of that in the beginning. But within a year, I started talking to the right people, and then I was able to approach grocery stores with not just an idea but a plan.
All the food here has been "rescued" from supermarkets and offered for free to those in need.
Scope: How does Donate Don’t Dump work?
Gabrielle: One of our partner food banks picks up the extra food from one of our partner grocery stores. The bank brings the food to one of our distribution events, where the food it is available for free to anyone who wants it. We try to get stores to donate healthy food. Most people who are food insecure can probably afford the dollar menu at McDonald’s, but find it really hard to buy quality food. So we encourage stores to donate fruits, vegetables, and breads. I remember early on, there was a woman who would come to each food distribution event. She told me that she would freeze the food she took home and it would last her until the next distribution event, two weeks later. That was the first time I realized how big of an impact you can make in people’s lives.
We also have Donate Don’t Dump clubs, mostly in schools, where you can get a group of people together and start an official chapter to raise awareness about food waste, help raise money for the organization, or volunteer at a food distribution event.
Gabrielle with a few Donate Don't Dump volunteers
Scope: It’s been seven years since you started Donate Don’t Dump. What are you doing these days?
Gabrielle: Sadly, I’m not as involved in Donate Don’t Dump as I used to be, because I’m in college now and I don’t have the time. So these days, Donate Don’t Dump is run mostly by a great organization called Feeding America. I’m really proud of the fact that when Donate Don’t Dump got started, food rescue wasn’t really part of the conversation and now it is.
Being a part of Donate Don’t Dump has made me realize that there are important issues out there that people aren’t necessarily talking about and that aren’t being covered in the news. It might be a really small issue, but it can have a big effect. I think the main thing is to not just sit there and sulk over something that bothers you. Go out and talk to people about it! You’ll meet other people who are equally bothered by the same issue and together, you can go out and make a difference. That can be more doable than people might think.
"Swimming for Her Life" in the November issue of Scope tells the amazing story of 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, an incredible athlete who fled her home country of Syria and went on to compete in the Rio Games last summer. We hope that her powerful story will inspire your students to learn more about the refugee crisis and the situation of refugees around the world—and what your students can do to help.
Here are five powerful resources to keep your students' learning going:
To Do: Hold a class discussion about the world's responsibility to refugees.
To View: an infographic from the UNHCR visualizing the Syrian refugee crisis
To Do: Have students study the infographic and discuss the information it provides that is not included in the article "Swimming for Her Life."
To Write: a letter to a Syrian refugee
To Do: Students may feel powerless after learning about such a severe humanitarian crisis. Writing a letter to a refugee is one way they can have an impact. Have students write a message of hope to a Syrian refugee through the organization CARE. See details here. Here are some other ways students can get involved.
To Read: the novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
To Do: Have students write an essay about how war affects children. How do Yusra and the characters in the novel overcome their challenges?
Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images
IDEA 5 (challenging)
To Read: a high-level article about the refugee crisis of World War II
To Do: Hold a class discussion about the refugee crisis during and after World War II. Have students consider how that crisis and the current refugee crisis are similar and how they are different. Who were the refugees during World War II and what was their situation? What was the response from the international community to refugees then and what is it now? What can be learned from both situations?
On March 2, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, an African-American teenager refused to give up her seat on a bus—months before Rosa Parks famously did the same. The teenager's name is Claudette Colvin, and she is the hero of our play This Is What Courage Looks Like. Claudette's story captivated us, and we think it will inspire your students.
Here are five fantastic ideas to keep their learning going:
To Watch: a video interview with Claudette Colvin telling her story in her own words
To Do: Hold a class discussion about what it means to have courage, drawing on the play and the video interview.
To Watch: a video about the Montgomery Bus Boycott
To Do: Have students write the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the form of a graphic novel, poem, song, or short story.
Rosa Parks (center) waits to board a bus after the successful Montgomery bus boycott, December 26, 1956. (Don Cravens/Getty)
To Read: a primary document created by the leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott advising people how to behave on the newly desegregated buses
To Do: Discuss with students why leaders may have thought these types of suggestions were necessary.
To Find: Have students find someone who has actively supported a civil rights issue, either by participating in a protest or rally or by creating a petition or campaign.
To Do: Have students conduct an interview with this person. Students should find out why the person chose to support that particular cause, what the person hoped to change through his or her activism, and how that person was effective. Students can present their findings to the class in the form of a video, slideshow, or speech.
To Do: Have students invent a dialogue between President Obama and Claudette Colvin (or other historical civil rights leader of students' choosing).
Scope's October nonfiction feature "The Flaming Sky" tells the gripping story of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. But 26 years earlier, a different disaster shook the world: the sinking of the Titanic. The two iconic tragedies are often compared. So we dug up our narrative nonfiction article about the Titanic from our archives just for you and your students. Here's how we recommend you use the two texts.
2. Have students read “Into the Dark Water” about the sinking of the Titanic.
3. In small groups, have students explore the web resources for “Fire & Ice” a Smithsonian exhibit created to compare the Hindenburg and the Titanic disasters. Students should take notes as they go through the site.
4. Bring the class back together and discuss how the two disasters are similar, how they are different, and what can be learned from both.
Here are some questions to get your discussion going:
- What was happening in the world during the time of the Titanic and the Hindenburg disasters? How were the periods similar and different?
- What were the accomodations like on board the Hindenburg? What were they like on the Titanic?
- How were the Titanic and the Hindenburg viewed by the public when they were each built? What reputation did the two ships have?
- Why did the Titanic sink? Why did the Hindenburg explode?
- How did the Hindenburg disaster impact the public’s view of zeppelins? How did the Titanic disaster impact the public's view of ocean liners?
- Compare the structures of the two articles. What do they have in common? How are they different?
Here at Scope, a big part of our mission is to open doors of curiosity for your students, to inspire them to pursue what fascinates them, and to help them become learners not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well.
And what could be more fascinating than our Mars extravaganza in the September issue? After your students read the fiction piece "Follow the Water" and the informational text "What Would It Take to Live Here?" share these awesome resources to keep the learning going.
To Do: Have students work in groups to create their own bill of rights for colonists on Mars.
To Do: Hold a class debate about whether or not it would be a good idea to move to Mars. Divide the class into two groups: Those who would like to move to Mars and those who would not. Have students try to persuade those in the other group to change their minds.
To Do: Have students imagine what it would be like here on Earth if humans were landing on Mars for the first time. Have students create their own news coverage of the event in the form of a newspaper article, broadcast, live tweets, etc.
To View: NASA's Mars Explorers Posters
To Do: Study these futuristic recruitment posters. Discuss why the type of professional featured in each poster would be important on a Mars colony. As a class, brainstorm other professionals that might be needed. Break students into groups and have each group create a recruitment poster of its own. Then each group can show its poster to the class and give a short presentation about why it would be important to have colonists on Mars with that particular skill.
To Do: Have students write essays comparing the challenges that Ernest Shackleton faced and how he overcame them with the challenges that a Mars colonist would face.
Have another awesome extension idea? Share it in the comments below!