Friday, March 2, 2012

Making Connections: Teaching Students to Go Deeper in Reading

Today's post will focus on strategies for helping students make deeper level connections to text.  On a side note, earlier this week, we began celebrating 10,000 page views.  You guys are fantastic! The celebration is not over.  I am going to upload some really valuable freebies throughout the next week.  Make sure to check back throughout the next 7 days.  

Making Deeper Connections
If I hear another student say while we are reading, "This reminds me of the time I went to the zoo, bank, (or anything close to this),"  I promise you I will scream very loud and I won't stop for 2 minutes.  I have felt so strongly about this that I have made adjustments to how I help students make connections.

Stephanie's Harvey's main intent with encouraging students to make connections in her book Strategies that Work was to have students connect to central ideas in the text.  This is much needed for success in high school as well as college.  Learning this is often very challenging for students because reading is so different than math.  Math topics are organized by common themes.  Reading should be organized the same way to the smallest level.  I even recommend creating a list of connections you want students to be able to make.  Plus organize lessons by theme or key idea as well as by reading skill and reading strategy.  

A list of recommended books are listed below.   Even if you teach older students, these books are short and are great for guided lessons with students.  Possible thematic connections include:

Accepting Oneself 
Books to Use:
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
Ruby the Copycat by Margaret Rathmann
You Are Special by Max Lucado (Highly Recommended)

How and Why Characters Change Over Time 
Books to Use:
Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli (I Love This Book Too!)
An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant

Overcoming Obstacles 
Books to Use:
Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich (Trust Me!)
There a zillion books that fit this category

Informational Text Topics to Read About Include:
Animal Adaptations (Body Features and Things Animals do to Survive)
The Great Depression
Early Beginning of Our Country
Animal Habitats
Ancient Civilizations (Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia, etc.)

Possible Discussion Prompts Include:
What lesson did the character learn?  Can you think of another story in which a character learned the same lesson?

What does the author want the reader to learn?  Can you think of another book in which another author wanted us to learn the same thing?  How are both of these authors the same or different in the way they get the reader to learn this?

Can you think of a time in which you learned the same lesson?  Explain.

Now that we have read about several civilizations, what do you notice that is the same about all of them?


  1. Hi! I'm your newest follower. What a wonderful site!I am always looking for questioning techniques and ideas to help students understand concepts at a deeper level both in reading and math. Great ideas!

  2. Love your ideas! I completely agree- students need to be taught to think and connect deeply and skip the surface level thinking.
    Conversations in Literacy