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Into the Book: Making Connections
This 15-minute instructional television program is meant for use in K-3 classrooms. The video clips and teaching suggestions in this interactive teacher guide can help you preview the program and plan your lessons.

Program Synopsis
In this episode, Mrs. Pingel teaches students how to make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections using a newspaper article. Dring self-selected reading, Julia goes into ther book "Solo Girl," where she is able to help a character named Cass by making connections. Later the strategy is useful in her karate class.

Featured text:
Solo Girl, by Andrea Davis Pinkney. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1997

Buried in Lava and Ash, from the Simpson Street Free Press.

Other texts mentioned:
Up North at the Cabin, by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Steve Johnson. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1992.

Smoky Night, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1994.

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Think about how you want to use this program. How does it fit into your teaching plan?
    1. Use it to introduce making connections.
    2. As a follow-up or review.
    3. To initiate a discussion of the different types of connections students can make.

Before viewing:

  • Set a purpose for watching the video. Explain that students will be trying the strategy themselves after they watch the video.
  • Ask students to watch for something specific in the program, for example:
    1. How does the video show us when students are making connections?
    2. Notice some of the connections that different students are making. How do those connections help the students in their reading?
    3. What kind of connection helps Julia the most?

During viewing:

  • Pause the video during teachable moments. For example:
    1. After Lizzy makes a connection to "Junie B. Jones".
      Ask students what connections they have made to characters in a book they have read.
    2. After Conlin's connection to "Up North at the Cabin".
      Ask students what they see in Conlin's special effect (thought bubbles depicting scenes from the book and scenes from his memory). What other strategy is Conlin using as he makes this connection (visualizing). How do you think that could help him understand his story?
    3. After Julia's conference with Mrs. Pingel.
      Ask students if they understand the difference between the shallow connections that don't help to understand the book and the deeper connections that help you understand the story better. Have ready an example of a book you have been reading with the class. Model a shallow and a deeper connection you could make with that book.

After viewing:

  • Ask students how making connections helped Julia.
  • Have students do the Making Connections activity in the student area of the Web site.
  • Show students how making connections can help them in their study of other subject areas. For example, use an article about a social studies topic for a discussion the way Mrs. Pingel used the "Buried in Lava and Ash" article.
  • Read "Solo Girl" and ask students about their own connections.
  • Model making connections during your read-aloud time. Be sure to say how your connections help you understand or enjoy your reading.
  • Have students make their own "special effects" by writing or drawing their connections on this Making Connections Bridge.
  • Try some of the lesson plans on this site.
  • Listen to the Making Connections song.

Preview Clips

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Notice How the special effect shows what is going on inside a reader's head when they make connections. This can be very helpful to students who are just learning to use strategies, to help them understand how they can interact with text.
Try it yourself:
Ask students to explain Conlin's or Lizzy's connection by describing what is on each side of their Making Connections bridge. Then follow up later when reading by asking students to describe, or even draw, what would be in their Making Connections special effect if they were in the video. You may wish to show this short segment of the video again before doing the exercise.

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Notice how Mrs. Pingel uses a newspaper article to model making connections. It is very important to use a variety of types of texts with your students — don't just use books!
Try it yourself:
Consider starting a collection of texts that you think might be interesting to your students; newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, instructions, menus, trading cards, brochures, etc.
Notice how the teacher first models making connections before asking the students to make their own. Also notice that she asks students how their connections help them understand.
Try it yourself:
Pause the video and ask students how each connection the students mention could help them understand or enjoy the text.

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Notice how one-on-one conferencing allows Mrs. Pingel to help Julia get to a deeper level of understanding. Students often jump to obvious but superficial connections; it takes time and attention to encourage them to go deeper.
Try it yourself:
Spend time with each student in one-on-one conferences to hear what they are really thinking and to help them use strategies more effectively.

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Notice how Julia used the strategy in her own life. In each episode, we try to show a practical application of the learning strategy in the student's own life. Using the strategy independently as needed is the last step in the gradual release of responsibility model.
Try it yourself:
Start asking your students if they have noticed themselves using their strategies outside of reading class. Send home a list of strategies, and have students ask parents if they use any of the strategies in their work, then share their answers with the class.

A production of Wisconsin Media Labs: