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Connection Graphic Organizer


This activity provides a highly structured way for students to identify, organize, and process the connections they make with a text. Students are able to recognize and then categorize different types of connections: to their personal experience, to texts, and to the world.


Catherine Ullman-Shade

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Visualizing
Classifying Information, Comparing and Contrasting, Text-Self / Text-Text / Text-World Connections

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts


Identify a text. Print and copy the attached graphic organizer. If needed, adapt it so that it better suits your needs. A simple two-column adaptation for recording text-to-self connections is included below.

Activity Steps 
  1. Distribute text and graphic organizer to all students.

    You should initially and frequently model this activity, as you would with any new or complex task. Think aloud about a text as you read, and complete a graphic organizer with the students. Identify the exact word(s) in the text that led to the connection, and explicitly explain what you are connecting, and why. Most students need explicit instruction and practice in each type of connection, and only after this individual practice will they be ready to incorporate all three types of connection in the same activity. Consider generating or providing a list of the types of connections that a person may make with a text, with examples.

  2. In small groups or individually, students read the text. As they read, they complete the chosen graphic organizer with the connections they notice between the text and themselves, texts and other texts, and text and the world.
  3. Students synthesize and reflect on their connections, in writing, or in small group or large group discussion.

    In writing or in discussion, students should respond to questions including: · How do graphic organizers affect the way you make connections? · How do they affect the way you remember connections? · How do connections affect your feelings about the material? · How do they affect your ability to remember what you learn?

Adaptation for the Math Classroom 

Students may not always recognize when they have real world experiences with the mathematics they are learning in school. Making Connections to Oneself is a tool to help them develop the ability to recognize those connections.  One way to use Making Connections to Oneself in the math classroom is to have the full class or small groups craft connections to the skills and concepts just taught.  For instance, in a lesson where students are learning about the two types of division problems it is valuable to have them connect to experiences when they divided something into groups of a given size (like grouping quarters into piles of four) andwhen they divided something into a given number of groups (like splitting a pile of candy among four children).

Downloadable Resources 
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