How does the story connect to your own life, another text your have read, or the world around you? In this lesson, students will read books about families and make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections using those books. Students gain a deeper understanding of a text when they make authentic connections. Beginning with a read-aloud of Donald Crews' Bigmama's, the instructor introduces and models the strategy of making connections. Read-alouds of The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant are followed by activities that help students learn to apply each type of text connection when responding to texts. After sharing and discussing connections in a Think-Pair-Share activity, students plan and write a piece describing a personal connection to one of the texts.
Planning Web: Students can use this printout to record details about the text connections they have made and use those details in their own stories.
- As readers respond to text, they make connections. It is these connections to the text, to the world, to background information, and to experiences (schema) that make readers feel like the characters, connect to the story, or remember similar experiences.
- Connecting to emotions and senses enhances comprehension skills because the reader can identify with the characters or situations in the text in extremely personal ways and make comparisons.
- Teachers show students how to make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections so that readers can more easily comprehend the texts they read.
- Teachers model for students how to activate schema and make connections that help make meaning of a text.
- Teachers help students understand basic story grammar (including plot, characters, and setting) and expository text structures such as sequence, description, comparison, and cause and effect.
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.
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
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.
11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 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)
- Make connections and respond to various texts through writing
|Begin the lesson by activating students' prior knowledge of families. Invite them to answer questions such as
- Who is part of your family? What are relatives? What is an extended family?
- What special names do you use for your grandparents?
- When and why do relatives gather together?
|Read aloud the book Bigmama's by Donald Crews. After reading, ask students to think about the following questions:
- Focusing on text-to-self connections:
- 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?
|Using the Making Connections posters as a visual aid, 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. 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 4).
|Have students make connections to the text and share them aloud. Remind students to explain which of the three connections they are making.
|Read aloud the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
|Use the Making Connections posters to review the three types of connections. Provide a model by sharing aloud a personal connection with The Snowy Day. Write your connection on a sticky note and affix it to the matching Making Connections poster.
|Ask students to think of a connection to the book The Snowy Day. Have them write each connection on a sticky note and affix it to the matching Making Connections poster. As a class, read aloud the notes attached to each poster to ensure that students correctly categorized their connections.
|Following the sorting activity, read aloud The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant.
|Use the Making Connections posters with the sorted sticky notes to review again the three types of connections.
|Introduce a Think-Pair-Share activity. Ask students to think of a connection to the book The Relatives Came. Have them pair up with another student and share their connections. Remind them that they need to identify which kind of connection they are making.
|Invite the class to come back together and share several examples of their connections. Be sure to ask students to distinguish what type of connection they are making.
|Explain that students will be writing about their connections. Use the Planning Web (on chart paper or overhead transparency) and provide a model for planning the writing.
- In the central oval, write the connection, for example, This story reminds me of a visit we made to my grandma's house.
- In the rectangles, write supporting details, such as
- We drove three hours to visit my grandmother in Virginia.
- We hugged and kissed a lot.
- I had to share a bed with my sister.
- While we were there, we helped grandma fix her broken window.
|Distribute copies of the Planning Web and have students begin to plan their writing. Remind them to start with a connection and list four supporting details that illustrate that connection.
|Begin by reviewing the sample Planning Web. Model how to use the Planning Web to organize a story, writing a sample story on chart paper. Expectations for this activity will depend on the grade level and students' writing capabilities. A sample story for Grade 2 could be:
This story reminds me of a visit to my grandma's house. Last summer, my family and I drove three hours to visit our grandmother in Virginia. When we arrived there, our grandma greeted us with lots of hugs and kisses. She also cooked us a big dinner with ham, roasted potatoes, string beans, and apple pie for dessert. That was my favorite part! After dinner, we helped grandma fix her broken window. At night, my sister and I had to share a bed. We told jokes and laughed all night long. We stayed with grandma for five days. I can't wait until our next trip to see grandma.
|Have students complete the Planning Webs they started in Session 2 and use them to write about their connection to The Relatives Came. Suggest that they use the sample story as a model. Remind them that when they finish they should reread what they have written, to ensure that it makes sense and to correct any errors.
|(Optional) After students have finished editing their stories, have them use the Interactive Stapleless Book to publish their final copies.
|Gather as a class and allow students to share their connections aloud. During this oral presentation, remind students to first identify the type of connection they made in their story, then read the story to the class.
|Share the Additional Books About Families you have selected with the students as read-alouds. If you prefer, you can obtain multiple copies of the selected titles and students can read them independently or with a partner.
|Explain that students should make connections to the stories while listening or reading. Have students write down their connections, and remind them to identify the type of connection they are making. Alternatively, you can invite students to share their connections orally and compile a class list.
|Have students gather as a class. Review the purpose of making connections and how this process helps readers gain a better understanding of a text.
|Have students share some of the connections they made to the books they heard or read in Session 4. Were they able to make any text-to-text connections?
|Guide students in making additional text-to-text connections with Bigmama's and The Relatives Came.
- Invite students to interview a family member about all the people that are in their family, such as their mother, father, sister(s), brother(s), grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on.
- Have students create a family tree, using cutout apples to represent each family member. Invite students to share their family trees as an oral presentation.
- Have students create a family collage. Provide a collection of magazines they can look through to find pictures to represent the things their families do, such as fishing, swimming, traveling, and reading. Have students cut out the pictures and glue them onto construction paper to form a collage. Finally, have students share their family collages with their classmates, describing the many activities they like to do as a family.
- Access the ReadWriteThing.org lesson "Guided Comprehension: Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal," and adapt the lesson for use with one of the titles on the list of Additional Books About Families.
- Encourage students to make personal connections in studying character and themes using the ReadWriteThing.org lesson "Digging Deeper: Developing Comprehension Using Thank You, Mr. Falker."
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Assess students informally by asking them to respond (orally or in writing) to the following prompts:
- What was the most meaningful connection you made during this lesson?
- What are the three types of connections? Which type of connection was the easiest to make? Which type was the most challenging?
- How do you think making connections will help you as a reader?
- Would you make these kinds of connections in the future? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Assess students’ understanding of the Making Connections strategy using the writing sample they completed during Session 3. Final student writing samples should:
- Include at least one text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world connection
- Include four supporting details
- Be 8–10 sentences in length (or less, for younger students)
- Have few, if any, misspellings or grammatical errors
- Be neat and legible
- Assess students’ understanding of the three types of connections by having them share an example of each type of connection with a partner.
- Have students write a verbal definition or create a graphic representation of each of the three types of connections, to demonstrate their understanding of the differences.