Making Connections to Text

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Text-to-Self Connections:

When you can connect a text with your own life, it is called a Text-to-Self Connection. This includes connecting with a character's personality or an event in a story. For example, a student might be able to see that a character, such as the very hungry caterpillar, is growing and changing as time passes and he eats more food. The student may connect this with the fact that he, as a child, is also growing and changing and eating helps him do this too. Younger students will need much guidance in making deeper connections like the one described above. Their connections, initially, will include things like, "This book is about a zoo. I've been to the zoo." This is a great starting point for making connections, but it needs to be built upon with teacher help to develop into deeper connections.

Text-to-World Connections:

When you can make a connection between a text and something that occurs in the world, you are making a Text-to-World Connection. This kind of connection is quite common and often can be very simple at first. A student who is reading The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss might be able to connect the story to the world in this way: There are many feet in the story and many creatures in the world also have feet. This is a very basic connection, but again, it is a start! As time passes, students may be ready to make deeper connections such as connecting the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly with the changes that happened to Cinderella when her fairy godmother cast a spell on her. This is a more metaphorical way of connecting a text with another text. Deeper Text-to-World connections are more likely as students get older and begin reading more advanced literature. When reading a book about the Holocaust students might be able to connect the horrors of the Holocaust to the horrors of what is going on in Africa right now with children being used to fight wars and other terrible things. Perhaps they learned about this through social networking like facebook or maybe in Social Studies class.

Text-to-Text Connections:

As time passes, students may be ready to make deeper connections such as connecting the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly with the changes that happened to Cinderella when her fairy godmother cast a spell on her. This is a more metaphorical way of connecting a text with another text.


Why Connections?

Connections help us create schemata in our brain. It is like having many graphic organizers in our mind that are all connected in some way. Without the connection of one idea to another, there is no fluidity in learning and thus the world. Students need to see (starting at a young age) that everything can connect to something else. From an early age, connections will help students understand texts better. It is like having many synonyms for a word. The more synonyms you have for a word, the better you can understand that word. The more connections you can make with a story, the better your understanding of the story will be. Good readers often make connections subconsciously and don't even realize it if they do not stop to think, "Well, that was a connection!"

What does Research Say?

Readwritethink.org has been a spectacular resource for teachers in the area of literacy. They have done some research on the concept of making connections with texts. Making connections, according to

readwritethink.org facilitates and deepens comprehension. Teachers need to know how to make connections. Teachers need to demonstrate in mini-lessons so that students can see someone making deep connections. Without demonstration, students will not make it beyond the kind of connections that simply skim the surface. In-depth connections require thought and careful lesson planning on the part of the teacher. With today's digital world, digital literacy makes it all the more necessary for students to be able to connect texts to the world, other texts and themselves. Here is an article/lesson plan provided by readwritethink on making connections.


Lesson Plans, Posters, and other Printouts

I recommend taking some time to browse around the following link. Take time to read the links within this link! There are many resources available to teachers, especially those with scant technology in their classrooms! readwritethink.org: teaching connections



Websites/ResourcesHere is a website with a teacher and student section. There are free games for students to play in all areas of literacy. The section on connections has a video and a game. The game focuses on making deeper connections. I would recommend it for 1st through 4th grade students. Students can make a free username. When the leave the website and come back, it will ask if they want to pick up where they left off in their game. Also, the videos that introduce making connections and the other topics are great review videos for mini-lessons or reading intervention teachers to use with students.Video/Resources
Below is a link to a PDF which provides a great idea/lesson for helping middle school students make better text-to-text connections. It does, however, require that the students first read The Giver by Lois Lowry and Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. Even if you don't have these texts to use, still take a look at this great PDF resource. The teacher who shares it has some great ideas to help students make deeply question and think about what they are reading.Middle School Connections ideas in PDF formHere is another website which provides some printouts and ideas for teaching and modeling connections. It is geared toward primary and elementary students.

All Reading Strategies Web Resource


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