Celebrating holidays in the classroom is fun, but it’s not always an educational experience. With the Common Core Standards perpetually looming over our heads, we are constantly trying to find ways to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to the holidays. St. Patrick’s Day is no different. Your students will be decked out in green attire, sugared up from their leprechaun treats, and yearning for, yet another, classroom party. Using differentiated reading activities is a festive way to highlight the holiday while maintaining an educational focus. The post below walks you through four different St. Patrick’s Day reading activities that scaffold student learning, but remain festive and holiday centric.
Start your holiday reading festivities with a close reading. First, find a suitable St. Patrick’s Day text that is complex and rigorous enough for your students. Text length can be altered to meet the differing levels of learners in your classroom. For example, a low-level reader and advanced reader will examine the same text, but the length of the text will be different depending on ability. The inherent structure of close reading is ideal because it doesn’t require a separate lesson for each level of learner in your classroom. In addition to breaking up the text, the natural progression of a close reading lesson is scaffolded. Each reading of the text builds on skills mastered from the previous reading, making it a suitable choice for all levels of learners. After selecting your St. Patrick’s Day text, it is time to plan each step of your close reading. The first reading of the text should focus on key ideas and details. Having students underline the main idea is a great way to get started. The next reading of the text focuses on craft and structure, which is a great time for students to identify and define unknown vocabulary words. Learning new vocabulary in context will assist students in learning and remembering the new words. Finally, the third reading is a great opportunity to dive deeper and work with text-based evidence.
The next reading activity is centered around vocabulary. Most likely, your St. Patrick’s Day text will be filled with many tier two and tier three vocabulary terms that are unfamiliar to your students. Using a graphic organizer will work well for supporting students in learning the meaning of the new terms. Requiring students to define each new word, use the word in a sentence, find a synonym for each word, and sketch a picture to represent the meaning of the word will increase understanding and help to cement newly acquired knowledge. Depending on time and ability, the vocabulary organizers can be pre-printed or student created. In addition to completing the graphic organizers, students will need an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the word meanings. That way, when it comes time to use the word in a different context, students will be successful. A quick and easy way to accomplish this is to have students write an original story using all of their new vocabulary terms. Students will have a chance to work with the new words related to St. Patrick’s Day, and you won’t have to create anything additional for this lesson! Win-win!
Including a writing exercise is important because it gives students a chance to build upon what they have learned thus far. This can be accomplished by requiring students to apply their newly acquired knowledge about St. Patrick’s Day to something in their own lives. Reading comprehension reaches a higher level when there’s a connection or a link. Making a text-to-self connection will reinforce learning and help to establish a stronger connection with the St. Patrick’s Day content presented in the reading. The following list of prompts will help students make connections with the text:
-How is this similar to your life?
-How is this different than your life?
-Does the text remind you of anything in your life?
-Does the text relate to your life in any way?
-How does the text make you feel?
The final piece of the St. Patrick’s Day reading comprehension lesson is an assessment. The assessment can be formal or informal, as long as there is a format for evaluating learning. Wrapping up the lesson with an assessment also gives students a chance to reflect on what they have learned about St. Patrick’s Day. Exit tickets work well for this. They serve as a great way to document learning, and they work well as a quick assessment. They will provide you with immediate feedback, and they are extremely adaptable. Click here to download a set of 15 Editable Exit Tickets from Literacy in Focus on TpT.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day while meeting educational standards is possible! It takes some creativity and planning, but it can be done. Your students will be happy to be doing something different, and you will be pleased that you haven’t missed a day of instruction! If you love the way all of this sounds, but you don’t have the time to find a St. Patrick’s Day text and plan a lesson, click the link below to download everything you need!
“This was helpful to use with small groups and as a whole group activity. My students learned a lot and enjoyed the activities.” -Colleen C.