Thursday, October 18, 2012

Making Connections to Text Freebie

Have you ever been to an inservice that validates everything you know about teaching students, and that completely recharges your batteries?  I am so excited because I just sat through my second inservice provided by Stephanie Harvey, the co-author of Strategies that Work (amazing book- affiliate links below).

About two and a half years ago, our district purchased and passed out Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis' The Primary Comprehension Toolkit.   It is a 6 book kit that leads you through lessons on how to teach meaningful reading strategies to your students, including:  Monitoring Comprehension, Making Connections, Questioning, Inferring and Visualizing, Determining Importance, and Summarizing/Synthesizing.  We were told we would receive training shortly.'s your math?

I began using the toolkit the very first year we received it.  I had just read Strategies That Work, Mosaic of Thought, Second Edition: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann, and Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller.  All of these books talk about using real books, not basals, at students' reading levels, to teach them how to comprehend text.  This way of teaching made complete sense to me, and I have never looked back.

My students and I are just finishing up Book 1 in the Toolkit, on Monitoring Comprehension.  In this book, we have spent many weeks working on identifying and understanding the importance of Non-Fiction Text Features.  We also created our own Non-Fiction Text Feature Books.  We will refer to them all year long. (I use small anchor charts and templates provided for FREE! on TeacherPayTeachers.  Click HERE to see all the FREE resources available).

Our next step is to create Teaching Books.  Students will choose a topic they want to research and become an "expert" on.  They will create a teaching book to share with the class.  They are so excited.  I will keep you posted on our progress.

Getting back to today, Jill deGoede who works for Stephanie Harvey's consulting company, presented and did a demo lesson on Making Connections.  It is so powerful to see other teachers at work.  I wish we all had more opportunities to get into each other's classrooms.

Anyway, today's inservice inspired me to create a couple of things that I will begin using in my classroom when teaching students how to Make Connections.  You can download your own free copy by clicking on the sample images below.

Mrs Rios Teaches: Making Connections mini-anchor charts, activities, and graphic organizer to improve reading comprehension,

Here we try to communicate to students that their understanding of the text is enriched by their background knowledge (or schema), similar texts or themes, and events going on around them.

The response sheets included in the freebie above, focus on leading students to be aware of the different connections readers can make: 

1) text-to-self: when something in the book reminds a reader of their own life or experiences, 

2) text-to-text: when something in a book reminds them of something in another book, and 

3) text-to-world: something in the book reminds students of something that is, or has, happened in the world.

Another important teaching point is to get students to discern between important connections (connections that enhance reading comprehension) and interesting connections (connections that do not add to the understanding of the text.) There is a graphic organizer included to address this important difference, as well. I hope you will find these resources useful.

I would love to hear your thoughts on teaching students to Make Connections.

For more helpful tips, tools, and resources for improving students' reading comprehension, follow me on Pinterest!


  1. Hi! I have purchased many of your products on TPT and really appreciate the freebee, but I can't open it. Any thoughts?



    1. Try it now, Jennifer. I had mistakenly posted the wrong file format.

      Nicole :)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this info, Nicole! The timing is perfect as we are just beginning a study of nonfiction text features. I'm so envious that your district brings in trainings that relate directly to the classroom and inspire and rejuvinate teachers! I'm making a list of possible training suggestions, like the one you describe, to give to our superintendant and this one is my favorite so far!
    Thank you again for sharing!

    1. Isn't that so sad? Shouldn't that be the motive behind all training that is offered to teachers? After all, if it inspires us, it will most likely do the same for students!

      Thanks for the great comment, Linda.

      Nicole :)

  3. When I went to download it, some of the images weren't showing up and it wouldn't print right. It wasn't showing up in google docs. Is there anyway you can change this into a pdf for downloading?


    1. Nevermind!!! I just hadn't refreshed my page from where I left it up yesterday to remind me to print it. I refreshed and was able to download! Thanks! This is perfect for me to use with my students this week!!!

    2. Yeah! I'm glad you got everything to work out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Nicole :)

  4. Thank you so much for these freebies! We have just started talking about text-to-self connections in 2nd Grade so these will be perfect to share with students. Debbie Miller's book is my reading mini-lesson bible.

  5. Just found your blog through a pin on pinterest. I also make big charts on the wall where I record connections. Then I also put their initials next to it (they love that). Once they see someone else's initials, others want theirs up there too and that gets them motivated to share. It's the little things right?
    I'm your newest follower!


    1. Thanks Karen, that is a super idea. Thanks for stopping by!




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