May Your Students Be Merry and Bright {Amber from The Sunny Side of Second Grade}

This was a tough one for me because I feel like I do this all year. Hehe!

If your December is anything like mine, you are constantly scrambling for time. Between holiday activities, meetings, the hour of code, and field trips I felts like falling over come Friday! On top of that, the month of December is filled with assessing, assessing, and, you got it, more assessing. It is benchmarking season at Northwoods Elementary so it is difficult to keep these little ones merry, bright, engaged, and learning. But I am super woman, right? You got it!

One of the things I do is incorporate the holidays into all my lessons. Students are always wanting to learn about the holidays, and I have found that I get amazing work quality if I follow a holiday themed unit during the month of December. Therefore, all of my opinion writing pieces have a holiday twist, word problems involve elves, Santa, and reindeer, and reading...FORGET ABOUT IT! Reading is the best part!

Reading a new book or two every day is a sure fire way to keep those little sweeties engaged. For our reading assessments, we use mClass. Anyone who uses mClass knows that the most difficult part is the written comprehension. Fortunately I have learned to make this skill a priority and I have made it a mini lesson almost daily. With that said, when you read a holiday book, you can extend that right into a written comprehension lesson.

Take this book, for example:

First of all, if you haven't read this book, it is a season MUST! Have conversations about weather, cause and effect, sound in text, vocabulary and more! For written comprehension, I chose to discuss and model how to answer this question:

The title of this book is Cold Snap. If you could rename this book, what would you name it? Explain your answer and use at least two key details from the story.
Believe it or not, the students do not view this as an agonizing chore anymore. They are all helping look back in the text for key details. They are all recounting the story from beginning to the middle to the end. They are all participating and having conversations about what a good title could be for the book.

As you can see, we look at the question, break it down into parts and then we start answering the questions. My students actually love doing this now. They look forward to our written comprehension mini lessons, and I must say that the evidence is shown in their assessments for middle of the year. *Feeling accomplished*

How do you take something as mundane as written comprehension and keep it interesting?


  1. Hi Amber, I know this post is a few weeks old but I saved the email so I could come back & look into it. I don't know what mClass is but I would love some mini-lessons on the way you do written comprehension. We do it the same way, sort of. Your method seems so kid-friendly and from your description, I'd love to give it a try with my kiddos. I teach first grade but we work on finding evidence to support answers to questions from early on. My class will be going into 2nd grade level soon after the new year and I think this would really benefit them. I checked out your TPT store (which I already follow) but couldn't find anything like this there.