Reading comprehension is one of the major skills lacking by today’s middle and high school students. If a student cannot comprehend what he or she has read in the textbook, the chances of their failing the class will increase greatly. High school teachers expect the students to arrive in their class with the skills to read and understand the coursework they are given. Test scores indicate that the number of students lacking basic reading skills has increased. Including holiday reading activities based around comprehension and information gathering skills as part of classwork can help improve these skills and provide a break from regular classwork.
There are many stories, poems, plays, and novels revolving around the Christmas theme. Incorporating them into daily class work can be simple and constructive. One way that I used in my high school remedial reading classes involved the use of Christmas themed sentence starters. There are sites on the web that provide suggestions to get you started. To make the activity less threatening to my reluctant students, the writings were compiled in journal form, corrections made for grammar and spelling errors, and points given toward a daily grade at the end of the week for completing the assignment correctly. As a result, writing improved overall in the classes because the students became less intimidated when asked to write. All their writings were kept together and returned at the end of the term. It was amazing to see the expressions on their faces as they realized how much their writing had improved.
Reading and writing go hand-in-hand in the world of education. Reading can be incorporated into the writing by having the students read a short story or poem aloud to each other in small groups. Correction of pronunciation by peers is not as intimidating; discussions held in groups to answer various types of questions provides peer tutoring in a non-threatening environment. Writing an answer to a discussion question as a group helps develop social and reading skills. Evaluation of the written answer and observation of the group dynamics using rubrics is a great way to gain more information into the true skill levels of each student. Developing lessons devoted to the holidays works across the curriculum by offering students the chance to demonstrate proficiency in skills already learned and providing a platform for the development of deeper, more complicated skills in all subjects.
Some web sites related to Christmas activities in middle and high school:
http://jeannettestopfel.girlshopes.com/christmasactivityhighschool/ includes Spanish Class Christmas activities