A Note from Kristin
As the holiday season approaches, I wanted to share one of my favorite poems with you: “Three Gratitudes” by Carrie Newcomer. The poem is a refreshing, beautiful take on the Thanksgiving tradition of naming what you’re grateful for.
I can’t help but think of you when I read this poem—of the long hours you spend planning and grading, of the excitement you feel when a quiet student finds the courage to express an opinion, of how you think about your students long after the bell rings, of the work you do every day.
And so I just want to take a moment to say to each of you: thank you.
From all of us at Scholastic Scope, Happy Thanksgiving.
When I was your students’ age, my teeth would have appalled even a medieval tooth puller. Two of my teeth poked through my upper gums, my front teeth were separated by a space as wide as the Hudson River, and my upper and lower molars didn’t meet when I chewed.
I wore braces for four years. I will never forget the misery my teeth brought me—a misery that some of your students may be dealing with right now. But after writing this issue’s paired text feature about the history of teeth, I realized just how lucky I was to have those braces.
As I learned in my research, we can now prevent or cure dental ailments that were hopelessly painful or even life-threatening in the past. Yet today, many Americans lack access to dental care. But this problem can be solved, as your students will discover while reading my article.
I am eager for your students to “bite” into my story; it is packed with fascinating (and gross!) details about dentistry practices of the past as well as great vocabulary and science connections.
Leave a comment below and let me know how it goes. But perhaps read it after you eat your lunch.
Welcome back teachers!
I hope you and your students are enjoying the September issue of Scope as much as I am. There are so many stories I love in the issue, but one of my favorites is the Short Read: “They Failed. (And So Can You.)”
The story explores the importance of experiencing failure and how it can help us succeed. It’s about having the courage to make mistakes—and to learn from them. At the start of the year, I can’t think of a more important message for all of us. And after hearing from Scope's teacher advisors about how important this topic is for their middle school students, I’m even more excited to share it with you. I especially adore this extension idea from teacher-advisor Mary Blow:
This is perfect to start the year. You can brainstorm the traits of successful people when you finish and create goals for the year.
—Mary Blow, 6th-grade ELA teacher
And don’t miss the suite of support materials, including a delightful "Famous Fails" slideshow, in which four accomplished adults (including our very own Lauren Tarshis!) share the mistakes that mattered most to them.
One of the best parts of my job is hitting the road and researching articles to bring to you and your students. Among the many things I love about these journeys are all the fascinating people I get to meet along the way.
I am currently in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I am researching our November nonfiction feature about the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor. Two ships collided. One was carrying munitions to Europe for World War I. Those munitions exploded with such force that entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Today, the explosion is not widely known, though it is the largest non-nuclear explosion in history.
As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Halifax surrounded by a mountain of research. It’s been an exciting and jam-packed day. I walked along the harbor, visited two museums and a memorial, and spent time with a famous historian and author named Janet Kitz. Janet’s life work has been to preserve the stories of survivors of the 1917 Explosion and to make sure this event is never forgotten.
Janet and I talked about the horrors of that day—the eye injuries from flying glass, the burning houses and businesses, the families searching for one another—but we also talked about how that day brought out the best in people. Neighbors plucked each other from the wreckage of their homes and communities around Nova Scotia sprang to action to help.
I was reminded of a simple truth that resonates today: Even in the worst circumstances, goodness can prevail.
I can't wait to bring this story to life for your students. Stay tuned for more!
I recently received an email from a Scope teacher that moved me deeply. She had just retired and was going through some of her old materials, when she came across a letter I’d written to Scope teachers a couple of years ago. She told me that re-reading the letter touched her heart and reminded her of all the reasons she came to school each day.
Of course, I went and dug up that letter immediately. And so I am sharing this letter with you once again, because I mean every word as earnestly and deeply today as I did when I first wrote it.
You can read letter below:
Here is the transcript:
I want to take a moment to say thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you for pouring your hearts and souls into your students’ learning. Thank you for working so tirelessly to help them become stronger readers, writers, and thinkers. Thank you for those long hours spent perfecting your lesson plans, grading (many!) essays, and coming up with creative ways to differentiate your instruction. Thank you for caring so much that you find yourself worrying about that one student into the wee hours of the night. Thank you for your creativity, your wisdom, your fortitude.
You inspire me. You are the reason we make this magazine. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of your classroom. So thank you for doing what you do.
Thank you for being you.
Wishing you and your students a wonderful holiday,
Here at Scope, we feel quite blessed that we get to spend our days reading books and scouring libraries to research and write articles for you and your students. It seems like we discover something new and fascinating every day. (Visit our offices at any given time and you’re bound to hear, “I just discovered the COOLEST thing!”)
Creating the December 2016/January 2017 issue was no different. We learned all about the NASA space program for the nonfiction feature “Disaster in Space." We discovered how conservationists and scientists are working to save elephants and rhinos from poachers for the paired text “Can She Be Saved?” We explored the implications of Pokémon GO for the short read “How Pokémon GO Conquered the World." And we fell in love with the mythic hero Theseus in the play Into the Maze of Doom.
Fostering curiosity in your students is at the core of our mission. Our most fervent wish is that when your students open up their issues of Scope, they will feel the same thrill and fascination that we feel as we put the stories together—and that your students will be inspired to use the power of their own curiosity to learn more about themselves, their communities, and the world.
Wishing you and your students a wonderful holiday season!
As I write this note, I'm sitting at my window on a muggy and rainy New York City afternoon. This is one of my favorite places to reflect (especially when it's stormy), and my mind is abuzz with everything that happened this summer. I traveled with EF Educational Tours to Helsinki to learn about the educational system in Finland. (Read more about my trip here). The Scope team embarked on a fascinating research project to learn more about differentiation and how we can better serve the needs of your diverse classrooms. And we spent many coffee-fueled afternoons planning exciting new content for the upcoming year.
This first issue of the school year is the result of all those efforts, and I couldn't be more excited for it to arrive in your classrooms. Here are some exciting new offerings you can look forward to in your first issue:
1. Our talented designer Albert Amigo has given our short stories a fresh new look. Plus we’ve increased the length and complexity to make our fiction even more exciting and rigorous. Check out "Follow the Water," about a girl living on Mars, and the fantastic science pairing about what it would take to create a human colony there.
2. We’ve added new idiom activities, like this one, to support your ELLs. We will continue to refine them over the course of the year to make them even more useful.
3. We expanded our line of delightful (and useful!) skill-based videos. See the first one on mood here.
4. We know the importance of audio in your classroom. So we added more audio versions of our stories and articles as well as our vocabulary lists, like this.
5. Your first issue is packed with important and fascinating content. The featured nonfiction article about September 11 is particularly close to my heart. Read the story and watch the video here.
6. When it comes to writing tasks, nothing makes us happier than a prompt that is authentic, meaningful, and creative. So I am thrilled with the task that accompanies this article about how phones impact our manners: Students will create their own phone etiquette guides! Be sure to enter their work in our contest. I can't wait to see what they come up with!
7. We overhauled many of our activities to make them easier for your students to digest, while maintaining the rigor we know you need.
I hope we can stay in touch throughout the year. I always love hearing from you—so drop me a line with questions or comments. Even better? Let’s connect over Skype. Or if you’re in California or the tri-state area, I’d love to come visit your classroom.
Wishing each of you a joyful start to the year.
Here at Scope HQ, we are always asking ourselves how we can best support you in your classroom: What problems can we help you solve? What challenges can we help you overcome? How can we help make your days more joyful?
In exploring these questions, we realized that we wanted to do more to help you use Scope to its fullest. So we decided to start this new forum, which we call the Scope Ideabook. It’s where we’ll share fabulous ways to use our resources in your classroom.
You’ll find great content such as how to use our infographics, our favorite methods for using audio articles, and windows into the writing and research process. We’ll also share some of the amazing ideas we get from Scope teachers who are using our resources in effective, creative, and innovative ways.
We hope you’ll share the ideas that you find here—and that you’ll share your ideas with us too.
We are so honored to be a part of your teaching life.
All my best,