Scope Magazine from Scholastic: A Winner for Struggling Teen Readers
Inside Each Issue of Scope
"Scope" is packaged to look like many of the popular teen magazines. There is a bright, colorful cover photograph of a public figure in whom most teenagers are interested. Recent covers have featured the Jonas Brothers, the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, the victorious Barack Obama, and teen actress Demi Lovato. The text and subheadings on the cover are bright and bold -- designed to capture the reader's attention.
Inside the front cover is the table of contents, and a list of six new vocabulary words from the "SCOPE 100" -- 100 SAT/ACT words that are incorporated in issues of "Scope" throughout each school year. Other activities include non-fiction features ranging from a half-page to two pages in length, each of which has a short writing prompt at the end. These prompts are usually creative or persuasive in nature: in the January 5, 2009 issue, an article about a giant coffee cup-shaped sculpture in London is followed by a story prompt asking the reader to write a story about someone who "wakes up to find that objects, like coffee cups, are gigantic."
Each article also features a readers' theater that has been adapted from a work of literature: recent issues have had adaptations of Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Hound of the Baskervilles. These are designed to build fluency as struggling readers work to perform their parts, and these adaptations are followed by questions designed to resemble state reading assessments.
Wrapping up the issue are four features: a profile of a teenager who is excelling in the arts, entertainment, or sports, a writing piece that needs editing for either punctuation or common misspellings, a vocabulary matching and fill-in-the-blank activity with all of the SCOPE 100 words from the issue, and then a crossword puzzle that ties the whole issue together.
Favorite "Scope" Activities for My Students
I teach a remedial reading lab class for students in grades 6-8 who failed the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) Reading test last year. "Scope" comes in handy as an ancillary material to go along with the online application that we use as our main remediation tool. The activities that I find the most useful are the short features with writing prompts, as the text is high-interest, and my students enjoy writing about personal topics, and then talking about what they've written. The SCOPE 100 vocabulary words and puzzle make a good warmup activity, and the dual task of matching words to definitions and then finding the right blanks for those words in an existing text plugs those words into the kids' minds in two different ways.
Things to Watch Out For
My students love to do the readers' theater portions -- and they do well answering the questions at the end. However, it often takes 40-45 minutes -- an entire class period. It's good to do as a reward, on occasion, but I don't use it more than once every three weeks or so.
The crossword puzzle on the back is something you can use as a reward activity, or for students who have finished something else early, but it doesn't build much in the way of critical thinking skills. The short features and writing prompts are much better in those developmental areas.
Use "Scope" in an Independent Setting
Are you homeschooling your children, or are you looking for activities for your English/Reading students to do during down time? "Scope" is perfect for those situations, as long as you've previewed the features you want your students to read, so you can answer questions about them. In an era when reading and writing skills are both declining and becoming more important, "Scope" is a highly useful resource for remedial reading teachers. Find out more about what Scope Magazine can do for your classroom, and your children.