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        K-5, 13+

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        Blue Ribbon Readers: Making Connections

        In this WPSU lesson Making Connections, elementary students will move toward understanding and comprehending text more effectively by making connections with their own background knowledge. The lesson is part of the Blue Ribbon Readers collection.

        Lesson Summary


        In this lesson, students will move toward understanding and comprehending text more effectively by making connections with their own background knowledge. Students will learn to make Text-to-Self, Text-to-Text, and Text-to-World Connections. First, the teacher chooses a book to which students can make connections. Next, through the use of modeling, students will make connections in three different ways to help them better understand the text. Finally, the students will show their understanding with the use of a worksheet and online activity.

        Content Objectives

        • Use 3 different connection strategies to further understand text.
        • Extend questioning techniques.
        • Access prior knowledge.
        • Comprehend story elements.

        Grade Level: K-5

        Multimedia Resources


        • Books of choice that facilitate personal connections
        • Books of choice for author studies
        • Polyvision Board
        • Charts
        • Post-it-notes
        • Online activity “Making Connections” Game


        Lesson Plan I: Text-to-Self

        • The teacher will choose a book to which he/she can make personal connections such as Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes or any popular children’s book. Prior to reading, the teacher will place sticky notes throughout the book on the pages where the teacher has made a personal connection. Keep connections to about 3-5 for the story.
        • Next, introduce the lesson by telling students that good readers will think how books can relate to their own life and that by doing this, they will understand the text better. This is called a Text-to-Self or TS connection. The teacher may show students how to hold their hands in the form of a book and then point their thumbs at themselves as a gesture when referring to this type of connection.
        • The teacher will then read the book aloud stopping at the post-it notes to reflect on his/her personal connections. It is very important that the teacher explain why that part of the story relates to self. Modeling is crucial.
        • Ask the students to make connections between the story and their personallives. Develop questioning techniques by asking students how their connection helped them better understand the story. Educate students to use the phrase, “It reminds me of the time I…(blank)…because…(blank)” as they are talking about personal connections.
        • Do “think-pair–share” with the students, asking them to partner up and share connections with each other.
        • The goal is for children to make the shift from passive reading to telling how their experiences help them understand the story. Independently, they may use post-it-notes to go through a book of their choice and post them on pages that remind them of personal experiences. They may then share their experiences with a partner.
        • Students may design a bookmark to illustrate their knowledge of TS with a picture of a book and a figure (stick) representing self to be used during reading time. As an assessment, students will complete a “Making Connections Journal Page.”
        • As an additional mode to teaching this concept, the Polyvison board can be used by scanning the book of choice for demonstration and interacting with it in front of the class instead of using post-its.

        Lesson Plan II: Text-to-Text

        • Educate students to use text-to-text connection by doing an author study. Choose a favorite author such as Kevin Henkes , Patricia Polacco, Barbara Park, Stephen Kellogg or any author who has written a series appropriate to your grade level. Always introduce the lesson by explaining to students that good readers not only make personal connections to their own lives, but think about how books connect to other books, also called text-to-text connections. This may also be called TT. The students may model this connection by making their hands form a book to show TT and moving their hands sideways to show comparison.
        • Read a few books by the same author over a period of days. When you have read two books, stop to compare characters, setting, problems, solutions, beginnings , and endings. This can be modeled by using a HAND diagram where the thumb represents character, pointer is setting, index is problem, ring is events in the story, and pinky is solution. The students will discuss each finger according to the book, then compare text-to-text using a VENN DIAGRAM. This is all modeled first by the teacher. A handout of the hand image is available or can be drawn on the Polyvision Board as can the Venn diagram.
        • Encourage students to use the phrase, “It reminds me of when I read (blank) because…." OR “IT reminds me of something I read because…."
        • Students can also make bookmarks to illustrate text-to-text using icons of a book with an arrow pointing to another book. They may also complete the handout, “Making Connections Journal Page”.

        Lesson Plan III: Text-to-World

        • The teacher will choose a text of which students will likely have some prior background knowledge. As in text-to-self and text-to-text, explain that good readers not only make connections to themselves and to other texts, but they make connections to the world and other people. Explain to students that as we read, we have to look at things through the eyes of other people. We have to “walk in their shoes.” Ask the students what characters in the book are most like them or unlike them. Show the students a globe or map to help them make the association of text-to-world a.k.a. “TW.”
        • As you read aloud, access prior knowledge students may have about the subject. (Example, if you are reading a book about oceans, ask them what they know about oceans.) They may also be encouraged to make a hand motion of a book and a circle representing the world when they make this type of connection.
        • Encourage students to respond, “I’m making a TW connection. When I make a TW connection, I think about what I already know, and then I think about how what I know changes. Also, using the phrase, “It reminds me of something I heard about because…” is a good practice. Help them to see that thinking about how the text reminds them of something they know helps them understand the story better and learn more about the topic.
        • Students may use Think-Pair-Share as they read a book.
        • Students may make bookmarks to illustrate this technique and illustrate with a book and a picture of the world or globe. They may also complete the “Making Connections Journal Page” Handout.
        • For any of these connections, the teacher could create a chart illustrating when the child made a connection and whether it was TS, TT, or TW. The teacher can list the child’s name and type of connection. This chart can be displayed in the room for further reference. A small prize, or service could possibly be offered for the child who makes the most connections in a certain time frame.
        • Students can support their connection strategies with the online activity "Making Connections" Game interactive.

        Review and Practice:

        1. Students may complete a handout on making connections.
        2. They may work together as partners and discuss TS, TT, and TW.
        3. They may make bookmarks and illustrate.
        4. They may participate in an online interactive activity or interact with the Polyvision Board.
        5. They may add their names to a teacher-made class chart each time they make a connection aloud.
        6. Review with students the three ways to make connections to a text.


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