Standard Lesson

Guided Comprehension: Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal

4 - 6
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 60-minute sessions
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A majority of students in grades 4 to 6 are beyond decoding instruction and need more assistance with comprehension to help them become successful, independent readers. Strategic reading allows students to monitor their own thinking and make connections between texts and their own experiences. Based on the Guided Comprehension Model developed by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen, this lesson introduces students to the comprehension strategy of making connections. Students learn the three types of connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world) using a double-entry journal. They also learn about the life of Cesar Chavez and his work to promote civil rights.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Guided Comprehension is a context in which students learn comprehension strategies in a variety of settings using multiple levels and types of text. It is a three-stage process focused on direct instruction, application, and reflection.

  • The Guided Comprehension Model progresses from explicit teaching to independent practice and transfer.

  • Making connections occurs when students think about the text in relation to connections they can make to self, to texts, and to others (Keene & Zimmerman, 1997).

  • Current studies demonstrate that when students experience explicit instruction of comprehension strategies, it improves their comprehension of new texts and topics (Hiebert et al., 1998).

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.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 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).
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 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.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

  • Harvesting Hope by Kathleen Krull (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2003)

  • Computers with Internet access

  • Three instructional-level texts (see Suggested Booklist for Cesar Chavez)




1. Read Harvesting Hope and print out copies of the Double-Entry Journal for students.

2. Use the Summary Sheet: Student-Facilitated Comprehension Routines and the websites listed above to familiarize yourself with the making connections strategy, which includes three types of connections: text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world. Another recommended resource is the book Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model for Grades 3-8 by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen (International Reading Association, 2002).

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. Gather three instructional-level texts that match the needs of three levels of reading in your class (see Suggested Booklist for Cesar Chavez).

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Learn and apply the comprehension strategy of making connections

  • Define and understand the three types of connections (i.e., text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world)

  • Make connections and react to various texts using a double-entry journal

Day 1: Stage 1—Teacher-directed whole-group instruction (40 minutes)

1. Explain the strategy. Explain to students that there are three main types of connections that we make while reading texts. Use the making connections posters while discussing each type with your students.

2. Demonstrate the strategy. 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.)

Read aloud the first few pages of Harvesting Hope and model the process of completing the double-entry journal. An example follows:

Idea From Text Reaction/Connection
p. 1, Cesar has parties during the summer with his relatives in Arizona. This reminds me of when I was young growing up in Tucson, Arizona and how I also loved to sit outside on summer nights. (text-to-self)
p. 2, Cesar's family provided all of their won food through garden and chickens. This reminds me of people who lived many years ago who sustained themselves through crops and livestock. (text-to-world)

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.

3. Guide students to apply the strategy. After reading several pages of Harvesting Hope and modeling the process, have students begin offering their reactions to the text as a way to practice the technique together as a class. Have students take part in completing the double-entry journal together.

4. Practice individually or in small groups. Divide students into groups of three. As you continue reading the story, stop every few pages and ask students to record their reactions to the text on their own copies of the double-entry journal and then share their reactions with their group. Continue reading and stopping periodically for reactions until the story is finished.

5. Reflect. Gather students as a whole class to discuss the process of making connections. Ask students which types of connections were the easiest and the hardest to make?

Day 1: Stage 2—Teacher-guided small groups and student-facilitated independent practice (40 minutes)

Before beginning Stage 2, students must be divided into three instructional-level groups. Students with similar instructional needs should be grouped together. This does not necessarily mean that students in each group are on the same reading level. Instead, they may have similar needs for comprehension instruction (e.g., students who have trouble making inferences or students who need extra practice making connections between texts).

Students are working in three different areas during this stage:

  • Teacher-guided small-group instruction

  • Student-facilitated comprehension centers

  • Student-facilitated comprehension routines

Classroom management is at the discretion of each individual teacher. You may want to assign students to small groups and set up a rotation schedule, or you may want to allow groups of students to choose their own activities. Regardless, each group of students needs to visit the three areas at least once in the three-day period.

1. Teacher-guided small-group instruction. Choose one group to begin with you as follows:
  • Use the posters to review the making connections strategy and discuss how the double-entry journal was used when reading Harvesting Hope.

  • Use an instructional-level text to have students practice the making connections strategy (see Suggested Booklist for Cesar Chavez) using a double-entry journal.

  • Students can practice the strategy by completing a double-entry journal for the instructional-level text and then sharing their reactions with a partner. Also, have students work together to record the type of connection (i.e., text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world) they made in the second column next to each reaction.

  • Have students reflect on using the making connections strategy and how it helps them monitor their own comprehension.
2. Student-facilitated comprehension centers. Students may be assigned to centers or choose activities on their own.
  • Drama center: Have students create a skit that demonstrates how good readers make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.

  • Writing center: Have students use the interactive Letter Generator to write letters to Cesar Chavez, describing the connections they made to his life and their reactions to the book Harvesting Hope by Kathleen Krull.

  • Art center: Have students use a medium of their choosing to illustrate one of the connections they made to Harvesting Hope.

  • Research center: Have students work in pairs to read one of the Resources related to Cesar Chavez and present an example of each type of connection (text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world). The websites provide a biography of Chavez at various reading levels. Students should record their three connections in their comprehension journals.
3. Student-facilitated comprehension routines. Working in small groups, students engage in three different literacy strategies. Students should already be familiar with each of the strategies and have practiced them over time. For more information, review the Summary Sheet: Student-Facilitated Comprehension Routines or refer to the text Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model for Grades 3–8 by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen.

Days 2 and 3

For Days 2 and 3, pick up where you left off the previous day. The suggested time for each session is 60 minutes, however, since the group on the first day only had 20 minutes in small groups, you may want to meet with them for another 20 minutes and then switch groups for the last 40 minutes. The rotation should continue until all three groups have visited all three areas. On Day 3, students will spend 40 minutes in small groups, leaving 20 minutes for whole-group reflection and discussion (see Stage 3).

Day 3: Stage 3—Whole-group reflection (20 minutes)

1. Talk to students about the making connections comprehension strategy that they have been learning. Ask them to tell why and how the double-entry journal helps them better understand texts.

2. Give students time to share the activities they completed in the student-facilitated comprehension centers.


  • 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.

  • Access and use other lessons based on the Guided Comprehension Model to teach additional comprehension strategies:
  • To extend the activities in this lesson, students may want to do further research on the life of Cesar Chavez or the Migrant Farm Workers of America.

  • Ask students to use the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the life of Cesar Chavez with another civil rights leader, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • The assessment for this lesson can be done informally by asking students to respond to journal 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?
  • You can also 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.

  • Ask students to share with a partner examples of each of the three types of connections they made to a text. Have them also record these connections for assessment of their understanding of each type.


Christy Bridges
K-12 Teacher
I really enjoyed the in-depth detail of this lesson plan. I really like the double entry journal and the visual organization it provides students. The repeated use of the posters is great visual reinforcement of the concepts as well. I like the detailed instructions provided for the comprehension centers. I have never heard of centers being used in that manner and I know that will be very helpful for all students. My favorite aspect of the lesson plan is the repeated modeling, review and teacher and student-guided teaching.
Brandi Killian
K-12 Teacher
This was a wonderful lesson that I will use for guiding comprehension. The lesson plan was step-by step which makes it easy to follow. I like how the lesson went over text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections. With these connections the lesson plan provided several different strategies to teach the students with small group, modeling, guiding, individual, and whole-group reflection. By providing different strategies it helps keep the students engaged which provides a better assessment for the teacher to see what the students are comprehending and struggling with.
K-12 Teacher
I really like this lesson, I think it breaks down the in steps very well and this keeps the students engaged. It is fun and involves much peer and group participation. Reading is crucial in education and making a connection to the text is so important part that many kids do not get. I like this lesson as it fun, interactive, keeps that student interested, teaches strategies and it assesses the students skills that they have learned. Can't wait to try this lesson with my kiddos.
Bobbie DeLozier
K-12 Teacher
This is a great lesson plan designed to teach guided reading comprehension using the Double Entry Journal to make connections with the text. I really like how the teacher teaches the students the difference in text-to-text connection, text-to-self connection and text-to-world connection. I also like how she uses student-facilitated comprehension centers to further help students understand the idea of connections to text.

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