What I Think
Students make connections from their lives to the events, characters, or facts from an assigned text.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Students will make connections to a character and events in a story or to the topic and facts in a nonfiction text.
This lesson is excerpted from Differentiated Literacy Centers by Margo Southall.
- Text-to-Self Connections: Encourage and model for students how to make connections that resonate with their lives and draw them closer to the text. Focus on events and ideas that reoccur across the text, rather than minor details such as individual words that are useful only on that one page (Miller, 2002).
- Text-to-Text Connections: You may display a cumulative chart of books and other reading materials that you have read together as a class to support these connections. Introduce and make a list of the types of text-to-text connections students can make, such as comparing characters’ personalities and actions, story events, themes or messages the author is trying to convey, and different versions of the same story.
- Text-to-World Connections: Many of the stories we read aloud to students may reflect issues and events taking place in the world beyond the classroom. World issues and events are often reflected in nonfiction magazine articles students may read and discuss, and can also be found in literature where a character is in conflict with larger societal issues, such as the prejudice depicted in the books written on the life of Ruby Bridges. Historical fiction and nonfiction, biographies, and survival stories depicting conflict with nature often provide examples for this type of connection.
- What I Think (PDF)
- folder or student notebooks
Set Up and Prepare
- For individual response sheets, make copies of the reproducible and place them in a folder at the center. If students will respond in their notebooks, make several task cards by laminating copies of the reproducible.
- Model how to use this graphic organizer before assigning it as center work.
On the reproducible or in their notebooks, students fill in the organizer, describing the connections they make to the character or topic and events or facts.
1. Use these guiding questions as you think aloud about your own connections.
- Character: How is the character like or not like me in terms of character traits?
- Topic: What have I heard or read about this topic? How does this topic relate to my life?
- Events: Has something similar happened to me? Would I do and say the same things these characters did in this book, or would I behave differently? Have I ever experienced a problem like this one? How would I go about solving it?
- Facts: What responses do I have to these ideas or facts? What connections do I make to what I already know? What new information have I learned?
2. Address students’ difficulties in making connections. This challenge may arise when students’ life experiences and personality traits may be very different from those of the characters and topics in their reading. Or they may lack background knowledge to help them relate to ideas, objects, and events in the text. It is important to explain that this does sometimes happen and to model how to record the reasons why it was difficult to make a connection.