This activity helps students to generate connections with a concept or a text, and to create a visual representation of these connections. Making connections helps students to place their learning within a familiar context, and it helps them to engage emotionally with text.
- Identify the text that students will be reading, or the concept that they will be focusing on.
- Create a model of a connection web. In the center of the web should be the name of the text, portion of text, or concept. All around this center term should be words, ideas, and phrases that are connected to this idea. These connections can be personal, or they can connect to ideas, texts, people, or events in the world.
- Teacher introduces the idea of connections, and class discusses different types of connections they can make.
During this introduction you will want to discuss text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections. Discuss the different ways in which ideas can be associated.
- Teacher distributes blank webs to students. Students write the name of the text, chapter number, or central idea in the center of the web.
You should pick a text or concept that is rich and multifaceted, and that is not too far outside student experience, so that they can generate adequate connections.
- Working alone or individually, students generate ideas, words, and phrases that connect to this text or idea. They write these around the central term in the web.
You can guide students with questions such as:
- “What does this remind you of?”
- “When you read this, what does this make you think of?”
- “What is this like?”
Circulate as students are working, sitting with each for several minutes and probing their thinking.
- Students get into small groups and share some of their more interesting, novel, or creative connections.
During this step you can confer with groups to help them to explain their connections. Encourage them to explain exactly what in the text sparked the connection, and why.
- Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
Students respond to questions including:
- How can making connections help you to understand a text?
- How can making connections help you to care about what you read?
- When might this strategy be most useful to you?