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Connection Sentence Stems


This activity teaches students how to make specific connections to a text by identifying personal experiences, other texts, and worldly ideas that are related to what they are reading. Students are given sentence stems that prompt connective thinking and guide evidence-based classroom discussions.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Inferring
Text-Self / Text-Text / Text-World Connections

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Investigation

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline


Provide each student with a copy of a Connection Stems graphic organizer (the graphic organizer that includes sentence starters for each type of connection that can be made). Choose a text that resonates with students’ personal experiences or refers to a topic they previously studied. Divide the text into three sections: A, B, and C. Students will be responsible for making each type of connection (text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to world) in each section.

Activity Steps 
  1. Tell students their work groupings.

    Allow students to work individually and then in pairs. Discussing their ideas and connections with another person will help to construct meaning and aid with the retention of content.

  2. Ask students to reread the section you just modeled and make a new connection using a different sentence starter from text-to-self connections.
  3. Perform a Think Aloud that focuses on a different type of connection such as text-to-text or text-to-world. Repeat the process of asking students to reread your Think Aloud with the purpose of making a new connection. Make sure that you model and perform
  4. Allow students time to record their connections in their organizer as they read Section B-Individual Practice. Tell them that the goal is to make one text-to-self, one text-to-text, and one text-to-world connection.
  5. Think-Pair-Share: For one minute have students discuss the book without sharing connections. Ask them to reflect upon the depth and quality of their conversation. Next have students share their connections. Ask them to reflect on which conversation was mo

    You want to demonstrate that conversations are enriched when people make explicit connections to the text.

  6. Ask students to work in their pairs to read Section C of the text. Each partner will read the text aloud once and then perform a Think Aloud the second time around. The listening partner will jot down the connections made to the text using the sentence st

    For students who struggle with making connections, provide them with two or three explicit connections. Ask students, “Which of the three connections in your opinion is the strongest? Explain your reasoning.”

  7. Reflect. Ask students questions such as: · What types of connections were you frequently making? · How can we increase our capacity to make other types of connections? · How was your conversation different when you discussed general ideas as opposed to

    Tell students that the ability to make more text-to-text and text-to-world connections will increase as they read more texts and are exposed to different ideas.

Downloadable Resources 
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