Teach This Now

Kristin Lewis

Happy New Year teachers!


I hope your holiday break was restful and rejuvenating! As you dive into the second half of the school year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is fast approaching and we wanted to give you a great way to teach your students about an incredible young hero of the civil rights movement: Barbara Johns.

The article "Imagine This Was Your School" tells the story of 16-year-old Barbara Johns, who led a strike in protest of the deplorable conditions at her segregated school. We're giving away this compelling article and companion poem for free. You can download and print a PDF here and share it with your students. Leave us a comment below to us about the vibrant discussions you have!




Each issue of Scope includes a dynamic vocabulary slideshow. It's great for all your learners, but especially for auditory and visual learners, as well as your ELLs. You can use the slideshow on whiteboards, computers, laptops, and tablets. Be sure to do the interactive activity at the end—it's great for the whole class or small groups.

Tell us how YOU plan to use the vocabulary slideshow in the comments below.


Adee Braun

Hi teachers!

If your life is anything like mine, each day seems to speed by in a blur. That's why I'm always grateful for an opportunity to pause and take a moment to think about all the things and people I am grateful for—my friends, my family, and all of you!

I've put together a few of my favorite quotes about gratitude for you and your students to use as a bell ringer or do-now. Have students read the three quotes below (you can print them and post them around your classroom). Then have students read the writing prompts below and chose one to respond to.


Writing prompts about gratitude:

  • Close your eyes and slowly go through your typical day. What do you take for granted in your day-to-day life that you can be thankful for?
  • Think of a time when someone gave you the right kind of help at the moment you needed it. Write a letter thanking this person. If possible, mail you letter of appreciation to this person.
  • Close your eyes and think of someone who plays an influential role in your life. Why is this person important to you? Write this person a letter to express your gratitude for his or her presence in your life.
  • In what ways are you fortunate? Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for. Include people, things, and experiences past and present. Keep the list and continue to add to it throughout the year.
  • Think of something you've accomplished so far this year. Who helped you along the way? Write a letter expressing your gratitude to that person.
  • Think about a challenge you've experienced in the past or that you're experiencing now. What about that experience can you be thankful for?


Click on each image to download and print, then display them in your classroom.




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.

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.