The holidays can be a challenging time to keep students focused. They are usually thinking about anything other than school. This is why I embrace the holidays and bring them into my instruction. Using holiday-inspired texts keep my students engaged and motivated to keep learning. In this post I will share how I will use text-dependent questions with a few favorite holiday songs and poems. My corresponding holiday close reading lessons download is filled with fun that your students are sure to love!
The Purposes for Multiple Reads
Two critical components of close reading lessons are 1) give students a purpose for each read and 2) provide text-dependent questions for the students to analysis what the text means at a deeper level.
This year, as I create my holiday close reading lesson plans, I am following the approach established by Diane Lapp, Barbara Moss, Maria Grant and Kelly Johnson, who “literally” wrote the book on close reading (Turning the Page on Complex Texts: Differentiated Scaffolds for Close Reading Instruction)! These experts have outlined the purposes for multiple reads of a complex text and the text-dependent questions teachers should be asking following each read.
PURPOSE FOR 1ST READ
Determine what the text is about.
PURPOSE FOR 2ND READ
Focus on the language used by the author and the structure of the text.
PURPOSE FOR 3RD READ
Look for meaning by making inferences.
Text-Dependent Questions After Each Read
Text-dependent questions should be thoughtfully prepared and written at an appropriate level of complexity to challenge the reader to understand the text in the most meaningful way possible.
After the first read, students gain a general understanding of what the text says. They should respond to broad text-dependent questions, such as, What is this text about?
After the second read, students deepen their understanding of how the text works. These questions have them analysis the language and the organizational structure used to convey information and describe experiences.
After the third read, students should synthesize the insights uncovered in earlier reading and make inferences about the author’s positioning, or what the text means.
Use Holidays to Engage Students in Practicing Close Reading Skills
Don’t let the approaching holidays take away from student learning! Use the time of year to engage students in practicing close reading of complex text with a holiday theme. Download a Holiday Close Reading Kit filled with activities that will have students analyze seasonal texts by answering text-dependent questions! Below is a sample of an activity included in the kit.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
Closely read the poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Each time for a different purpose. After each read, answer the text-dependent questions to gain a deeper meaning of the text.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
Text-dependent questions for the 1st Read
Who are the characters?
Where does the action take place?
What happens while St. Nick is in the house?
How does St. Nick get back up to the roof?
Text-dependent questions for the 2nd Read
- What is the mood of the poem?
- How does the narrator describe St. Nick? How does this description make you feel about him?
- What words or phrases are repeated? How does the repetition add to the text's meaning?
Text-dependent questions for the 3rd Read
- Is the narrator worried about St. Nick spotting him? How do you know?
- What inference can you make about the narrator?
Use holiday texts to motivate and engage your class. The Holiday Close Reading Kit is something your students will love! This kit can be used with almost any grade level.