Standard Lesson

Boars and Baseball: Making Connections

4 - 7
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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How does the story connect to your own life, another text you have read, or the world around you? In this lesson, students will make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections after reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Students gain a deeper understanding of a text when they make authentic connections. After reading the novel, the instructor introduces and models the strategy of making connections.  After sharing and discussing connections, students choose and plan a project that makes a personal connection to the text.

This lesson uses In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson as an example, but this activity is effective with any work of literature in which connections are important.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

"We routinely tell students that good readers ‘make connections,' but we tend to assume they know how; the truth is that only a few do, a couple more figure it out on their own, and the rest don't even know what we mean, let alone how to make them."

In this lesson, the instructor models 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 the text and plan and present a project based on a personal connection of their choice.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • Chart paper/white board and markers



This site provides two different synopses of the novel for background information.

The publisher’s site provides a brief synopsis of the novel, award and purchase information, and other books by the author.


  1. Prior to the lesson, students should finish reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson either individually, as a group, or as an entire class.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the Making Connections strategy, which includes three types of connections: text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world.
    • Text-to-self connections are connections that readers make between the text and their own life experiences. Example: "This story reminds me of a visit to my grandmother's house."
    • Text-to-text connections are connections that readers make to other things they have read, such as other books by the same author, or other stories related by genre or topic. Example: "This character has a similar problem to one that I read about in a story last month."
    • Text-to-world connections are broader connections that readers make while reading. A text might remind students of something they learned through movies, television, newspapers, or magazines. Example: "I saw a movie that showed some of the ideas in this story."
  3. Print the Making Connections Posters (Text-to-Self Connection, Text-to-Text Connection, and Text-to-World Connection) and either post them in your classroom or copy them onto transparencies to present to students.
  4. Make a copy for each student of the Double-Entry Journal and Connection Web. Also, make a display copy of both, either by drawing a large version on chart paper or making an overhead transparency.
  5. Make one copy per student of the Boars and Baseball Project Choices printout and enough of the Boars and Baseball Peer Review forms so that each student is able to assess every other student.  You may wish to staple these into a peer review packet or place them into folders to be used when the projects are ready to assess.
  6. Review In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.  Make a list of personal connections you find with this text for use as examples when you model the making connections strategy.  Be sure to plan some connections that clearly enhance understanding and others that are merely “there.”  This will assist you later in your discussion with the students about productive and not-so-productive connections.
  7. Test the Interactive Timeline, Graphic Map, Printing Press, Interactive Venn Diagram, Compare and Contrast Map, Essay Map, Persuasion Map, Letter Generator, and Postcard Creator student interactives and make sure that you have the appropriate software installed for them to run effectively.  You will need computers with internet access for each student who chooses to use these interactives for their final project.  If computer accessibility is a problem, print out paper copies of the interactives and make enough copies for each student who wishes to use them. If you need additional help with these interactives, please visit our Technical Help page.

Student Objectives

Students will:

  • identify and apply the comprehension strategy of making connections.
  • understand the three different types of connections (i.e., text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world).
  • differentiate between strong connections and those that are merely present in the text but do not enhance comprehension.
  • plan and present a project that makes a personal connection to the text.

Session One

  1. Explain to students that you are going to practice the comprehension strategy of making connections to find ways that students can personally relate to the text In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.  Ask students to think about the following questions.  You may choose to write these on the board or chart paper for students to see.
  2. Focusing on text-to-self connections:
    •    What does this story remind you of?
    •    Can you relate to the characters in the story?
    •    Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life?

    Focusing on text-to-text connections:
    •    What does this remind you of in another book you have read?
    •    How is this text similar to other things you have read?
    •    How is this text different from other things you have read?

    Focusing on text-to-world connections:
    •    What does this remind you of in the real world?
    •    How are events in this story similar to things that happen in the real world?
    •    How are events in this story different from things that happen in the real world?
  3. Using the Making Connections Posters as visual aids, introduce the three types of connections: Text-to-Self Connection, Text-to-Text Connection, and Text-to-World Connection. Explain how readers often make connections to a story to help them better understand the text.
  4. Use the think-aloud strategy to model how to make each type of connection, using your list of personal connections to this text (see Preparation, Step 5).  Make sure to emphasize connections that actually help enhance your understanding of the novel and others that are merely “there.”  Two examples to share with the students follow:
    • Good connection that enhances understanding:  When I was in second grade, I moved to a new school like Shirley did.  I remember feeling like everyone ignored me and missing my home, so I can relate to what she’s going through.
    • Surface-level connection: Shirley likes the Dodgers.  So do I.
    Ask students to share a few quick examples of both kinds of connections, and explain why some might help their understanding of the book more than others.
  5. Tell students that during the next session, they will get a chance to go through the novel and make their own connections using a Double-Entry Journal.

Session Two

  1. Display a blank copy of the Double-Entry Journal and demonstrate how to use this technique. Explain to students that, in the first column, they should choose a quote or situation from the text that they can react to. Then, in the second column, they should record their reaction. Reinforce the fact that these reactions should make a connection between the text and themselves, another text, or the world. (Refer back to the Making Connections Posters during this demonstration and discussion.)  Use chart paper or an overhead projector to model the process so that all students can see your reactions and reflections and follow along as you complete the Double-Entry Journal.
  2. Have students make connections to the text and record them on their Double-Entry Journal.  After students have had ample time to record their connections, ask students to share them aloud. Remind students to explain which of the three types of connections they are making, and also to make sure they are making connections that are productive and enhance their understanding of the novel, like they discussed in Session One.
  3. Ask students to reflect and respond to the following prompt on the back of their Double-Entry Journal: Choose one connection and explain specifically how it helped you better understand what you were reading.  You may wish to write this statement on the board or chart paper for students to see while writing their answers.
  4. Explain that students will be creating a project using a connection they made to the text. Give students the Boars and Baseball Project Choices and allow them time to peruse the different options.  Allow time for students to ask questions about the different project options.
  5. Share with students the Boars and Baseball Peer Review form and explain to students that their work on their projects will be assessed by their peers. Allow time for students to clarify and ask questions about the expectations.  Tell students that they will start planning and working on their project in the next session.

Sessions Three and Four

  1. Use the Connection Web (on chart paper or overhead transparency) and provide a model for planning the content of the projects that the students have chosen.
    • In the central oval, write the connection.
    • In the rectangles, write supporting details.
  2. Distribute copies of the Connection Web and have students begin to plan their project. Remind them to start with a connection and list four supporting details that illustrate that connection.
  3. After checking that each student’s Connection Web is complete and that they have chosen which project to complete, allow students the rest of the session to work on their projects.  Most students will need Internet access to use the student interactives required for their projects.
  4. As students are working on their projects, circulate among them and act as a resource as needed:
    • Ask questions about information that has been recorded and/or students’ needs.
    • Answer questions.
    • Provide assistance for students as needed.
    • Help students with using their interactive and printing their work.
    • Encourage students to keep their information organized.
  5. Remind students occasionally to make sure they are referring to the Boars and Baseball Peer Review form to keep on track with the expectations of the projects.

Session Five

  1. After all students have finished their different projects, choose from one of the following options:
    • Set up a “project fair” in your classroom where each student is given a space to display the work they created.  Allow time for students to travel around the classroom during a Gallery Walk and ask the other students about their projects and the connections they made to the text.
    • Give each student 2-5 minutes to orally present their finished product to the rest of the class and explain the connections they made to the text.  Finished projects can then be put on display for other students, classes, and parents to see.
  2. As students present their final product to the class (during the gallery walk or oral presentations), have their peers ask questions, take notes, and assess their work using the Boars and Baseball Peer Review.


  • Adapt this lesson and have students practice the making connections strategy with other texts. With continued practice using the Double-Entry Journal, students should be able to apply the technique independently.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Students can be assessed informally by asking them to respond to writing prompts:
    • What was the one connection you made during this lesson that stands out in your mind?
    • Which type of connection was the easiest to make? Which type was the most challenging?
    • How do you think making connections will help you in the future?
  • Assess students' understanding of the making connections strategy using the Double-Entry Journals that they completed during the lesson. Assess the double-entry journals for completeness of connections; be sure that students are making authentic, rich connections and that they are using all three types of connections to build their comprehension.
  • As students present their final product to the class, have their peers take notes and assess their work using the Boars and Baseball Peer Review.  Collect these reviews and use them for your final assessment of each student’s project.

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