Content Literacy 101

Comprehension Connections 
(From "A Handbook of Content Literacy Strategies")

"The purpose of this strategy is to provide students with a framework for making connections...While the three components in the framework can overlap and occur concurrently, their separation in this strategy helps students learn how to construct meaning through making a variety of connections.
  • Text-to-self connections take place when readers interact and make a personal connection with a text they are reading
  • Text-to-text connections occur when readers relate what they are reading with other texts they have read
  • Text-to-world connections occur when readers relate the text to larger issues or broader themes in the community and world"

Why use it?
"When students make connections with what they are reading, hearing, or viewing, they comprehend at deeper levels of understanding and strengthen their retention of it." Students often don't understand that they are supposed to be connecting a text with what they already know. They might view the piece as something they just have to read to finish the assignment, and might not consider that it has some relevance to their lives. The Comprehension Connector helps students organize the ways they relate to a text. 

How do I use it?
  1. "The teacher presents definitions of the three types of comprehension connections on a large chart that students can refer to in the classroom or on handouts they can keep. Depending on the level of the students, the teacher may want to simplify the definitions and add pictorial symbols.
  2. The teacher reads a short selection to the students (they may also have copies), models a personal connection (self-to-text), and then asks the students to make personal connections. These are described and discussed and more selections are used until students are able to make personal connections.
  3. Next the teacher has students read regular classroom material, making personal connections. These connections may be recorded in writing, with drawings, or a combination of both. 
  4. The teacher then follows the same procedures with text-to-text and text-to-world connections. These comprehension connections are more difficult for students and may require more modeling and practice.
  5. On a regular basis, the teacher has the students make one or more types of connections when reading and then share them during class."

NOTE: You can use the following coding system if you want students to make notations in their text (or on sticky notes they place on the text):
  • TS= text-to-self
  • TT= text-to-text
  • TW= text-to-world

(All steps and quotes from: A Handbook of Content Literacy Strategies by Stephens and Brown)