Teach This Now

Check out our new sparkling star of a genre activity! 


What is it?

Exploring Genre is a delightful activity that helps students analyze a Scope story through the lens of genre. Pop it up on your whiteboard for students to complete together and enjoy the conversations that will follow. 


What’s in it?

Exploring Genre begins with a hunt for the genre-defining characteristics of a Scope story. Students are then prompted to think of other works of literature as well as movies and TV shows that belong to the same genre. The activity culminates in a higher-level thinking question that relates to a common theme in that genre. 


Why do we love it?

Exploring a text through the lens of genre leads to an exploration of many aspects of that text—character, setting, mood, plot, theme, and so on. Familiarity with the characteristics of a particular genre can also give students a "way in" to other texts belonging to that genre.


Ready to try the Exploring Genre activity in your classroom? Find it here! The activity goes with Scope's November sci-fi fiction story "What We Saw."


Exploring Genre one of a handful of new activities we’ve created recently, including the Character Thinking Tool and the Theme Anticipation Guide.


Over the summer, we introduced you to the Theme Anticipation Guide—one of the new kids on the Scope activity block. Now, we’d like to introduce another one of our new literary elements activities: the Character Thinking Tool!


An Engaging Way to Teach Literary Characters

Like all of our new literary elements activities, the Character Thinking Tool includes higher-level thinking tasks that encourage students to make meaningful connections and help them transfer skills across texts.


What’s in the Character Thinking Tool?

Each Character Thinking Tool consists of five to seven questions that prompt students to think about their overall impressions of characters, the characters’ traits, and the ways in which authors reveal character to readers. These tasks elicit student opinions, call for text evidence to support reasoning, foster class discussion, and connect reading and writing. (Check out October’s play, The Monkey’s Paw, for an example of an in-role writing activity.) Look for the Character Thinking Tool with every Scope fiction and play.


Here’s how we recommend using the Character Thinking Tool:

What you’ll need:

Key skills:
Critical thinking; analyzing how and why characters develop over the course of a text

One class period


1. Read the play.

As a class, read Scope’s play Beware the Thunder, based on the classic Washington Irving story "Rip Van Winkle."



2. Complete the Character Thinking Tool.

After reading, give each student a copy of the Character Thinking Tool to complete independently, or project the activity and have students write their responses on their own paper.



3. Discuss responses from the Character Thinking Tool.

Have students work in pairs, small groups, or as a class to share and discuss their responses.


Let us know what you think of the Character Thinking Tool in the comments below!


Here at Scope, we are OBSESSED with mentor sentences and how they can be used to develop students' grammar skills and writing confidence. In fact, we're actually cooking up a brand-new mentor-sentence activity right now (coming in December!). So imagine how excited we are about this fantastic two-part post by teacher-advisor Mary Blow. It rocks our socks (and yours too—promise).

What better way to start off October than with our delightfully creepy play based on W.W. Jacobs’s classic short story, The Monkey’s Paw? It’s full of rich description, figurative language, and chilling irony. And the best part? We have the perfect skills-based video to transform the play into a fantastic lesson on mood. The video’s interactive and fun approach to this tricky skill will delight and engage your whole class.



If you want to go deeper, have students make their own mood videos, using ours as a model.

After watching the video and reading the play, students can flex their mood muscles with our Core Skills: Mood activity sheet. For extra support, don’t miss our “Identifying Mood” and  “Mood Words” reference sheets.


Lauren Tarshis

Sakdawut Tangtongsap/Shutterstock


Hi teachers,

When I wrote "Our World Turned to Water", the nonfiction feature for the October issue of Scope, I never imagined that when it came out, millions of people would be facing the aftermath of terrible storms and wildfires. While this story is about events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016, I hope you’ll find that the facts and themes will help your students grasp what many Americans have recently experienced, and will inspire your students to want to help in any way they can.

To go along with my story, we had asked poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich to write us an original poem. "What We Know" is about the spirit of coming together to overcome any difficult event; whether that be a flood, a hurricane, a wildfire, or a personal problem.

I hope that my article and Rebecca's poem will provoke a rich discussion in your class.



Download and print the poem below.

We delved into the Scope archives to bring you one of our most inspiring plays for Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Teen Freedom Fighters. Your students will be riveted by this story of two teenagers who participated in the historic 1965 protest marches that took place in Selma, Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

To dig even deeper into the civil rights movement, check out this post featuring learning extensions for another fascinating Scope play about about Claudette Colvin, a brave teen who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, during the segregated 1950s.

US Army Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

This Veteran's Day, we dug into the Scope archives to bring you a fascinating video about the hardworking dogs of the U.S. military. Your students will learn about the long history of military working dogs and how these four-footed soldiers save thousands of lives each year.




And check out "Call of Duty," the inspiring true story of the powerful bond between Zenit and his handler, Marine Corporal Jose Armenta.



If you love Scope, you’ll love the Scope Text Set. We’ve carefully curated 12 texts, including some of our favorite Scope features, and bundled them together to create one dazzling multi-genre resource around the themes of courage and resilience. Each text has been chosen to both challenge and inspire your students. When used with the suite of support materials that we’ve created, including lesson plans, quizzes, close-reading questions, and more, the Scope Text Set is designed to help students think critically, read closely, and improve both their explanatory and narrative writing skills.    

Interested in trying the Scope Text Set in your classroom? Find out more here.