We began by using an anchor chart to go over the three different types of connections: text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world. It was very interesting how certain children tended to gravitate towards certain types of connections. One student had a lot of connections to tv shows, while another had a lot of self connections. (Probably because she is involved in so many different activities.) Another student made a lot of connections to books she had read in other classes.
Next, I read aloud the book Bigmama's. I chose this book because it is about a family visiting their relatives. This is something most students will be able to relate to.
As I read aloud, we completed a chart of our connections. We recorded what the text said, our connection, and the type of connection. Students also completed a copy of the chart in their reader's notebooks.
I decided that my students needed a little more exposure to biographies. I also thought this would be a great genre for making connections. Students would be able to relate their lives to the lives of the people we read about. For our first book, we read about Helen Keller. As they read, the students created a chart for their connections in their reader's notebooks.
Next, we read a biography about Alvin Ailey. With this book, students continued filling out their charts with connections. This book was a little more challenging for my students. Focusing on making connections really helped them make sense of the text.
After finishing both texts, we completed a venn diagram comparing Alvin Ailey and Helen Keller. (text-to-text connections!) Both of these individuals overcame great obstacles to become very successful in life.
At this point in the lesson, my students were ready to become more independent. I like to start with articles when I start releasing more independence to my students. I do not want to overwhelm them at first. For this lesson, I chose three articles about teen entrepreneurs. Students read all three of the articles and recorded their connections in their reader's notebooks. Then, students chose two of the teens to compare and contrast with a venn diagram independently. I am very pleased with how the depth of their connections has improved.
What types of texts do you use when teaching students how to make connections?