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Connection Stems

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Connection Stems

Grades 3 – 8
Printout Type Graphic Organizer
Connection Stems



Connection Stems give students the language (and a reminder) to support their understanding by tying new learning to what they know about themselves and their world.

This printout has been reproduced from the following book: McLaughlin, M. (2010). Guided comprehension in the primary grades. Newark, DE: International Reading Asssociation.

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Making connections—to background knowledge, past experiences, earlier moments in a text—is a significant way that readers make sense of and find enjoyment in text. Younger students need to see, hear, and construct those relationships explicitly to gain control of the process.

  • Begin by including connections in a read-aloud with a story that students will have plenty of access to, either from similar life experiences or from content they’ve studied in class.
  • As you model connections, use language from the printout to help students see how connections support engagement and understanding.
  • Invite students to begin making connections with the whole class or in pairs.



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  • As students gain confidence with making connections and using the Connection Stems printout to record them, explain that there are a variety of connections readers make—text to text, text to world, and text to self. Help readers understand that Connection Stems allow them relate to something that occurred in another book or story, an experience they’ve heard or know about, or an experience they’ve had themselves.
  • Use completed Connection Stems to make a visible record of active comprehension throughout the classroom.  After students write a connection, ask them to draw the moment in the text that triggered the connection as well as the event or experience they’re connecting it to. Post their work throughout the room.
  • When students are ready to engage in student-directed book groups, use the Connection Stems to help define the role of Connector for one student in the group.
  • During an author or concept study that asks students to read multiple related texts, ask students to use the Connection Stems to relate each new text to the learning from the ones before.



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Grades   3 – 8  |  Strategy Guide

Making Connections

In this strategy guide, you’ll learn to model how students can make three different kinds of connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world). Students then use this knowledge to find their own personal connections to a text.