Saturday, September 16, 2006

Text to Self Connections

A few years ago teachers at my school discovered the book Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman and it lit a fire in our reading program. One of the principles of reading comprehension that these authors define is that good readers make connections when comprehending and making meaning from the text. Readers make text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections. If one has no experience or schema for a subject it is impossible to absorb and understand what you are reading, even if you know the vocabulary. So we learned to pay close attention to the connections our student were making as they begin to read. We work to focus their attention on the connections we make through direct modeling of our thought process in conversation while we read aloud. This metacognition or awareness of the thinking process teaches students to become aware of their own thinking, and that makes them better readers.

For me blogging gives opportunities to make the connections as I think about what I’m reading, write about it and read what others think of the text and my writing about the text. I think the way we use hyperlinks to refer to other pages/posts/text has changes the way I think while reading. Have you noticed that? Have any of the rest of you thought about blogging in this way? Used it in teaching?

It’s not just readers that make these connections. Infants and todders learning language are building schema for new words every day. Punkin knows “banana” and loves them; the other day he saw me cutting a pear and demanded a taste by calling out “nana!”. Yesterday he didn’t want to eat his meatloaf and potatoes but wanted more peach slices so he shouted “Nana!” when I took away his bowl. For him fruit is ‘nana; he has the schema of fruit and sweetness and he is building on that.

Buddy is learning to be a reader by listening to my reading aloud to him every night. I chose the Bible story and he chooses the second book. We are reading a children’s story Bible that has one short paragraph and a picture on each page. The other night it was the story of the prodigal son. He looked at the picture of the father hugging his homecoming son and listened to me tell the story. His response: “I wish I could see my dad. I am sad and I miss my daddy.” Text-to-self ouch.

He is still on a Berenstain Bears kick and lately it has been The Trouble with Strangers. Papa Bear tells Sister the story of Willy Coyote and Silly Goose, where Silly Goose gets eaten after foolishly visiting Willy’s lair. Buddy response: “Well he’s not going to eat me because I’m special!” Text-to-self youthful immunity.

What connections do your kids make to the stories you are reading with them? What does it tell you about their world, their understanding and their inner life?


Third Mom said...

"Readers make text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections."

Interesting! And this makes me wonder if the same applies outside of reading - if in any situation, we use similar situations to frame what we're experiencing.

When my children were younger and learning to read, I observed pretty early on that our son interpreted things he read concretely, whereas our daughter interpreted them as fantasy. And today, they approach the world similarly, our son bringing everything he experiences into concrete terms that touch him directly, our daughter more able to get outside of herself.

The book sounds great, thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

I have thought that it could be wonderful if I had a classroom blog--a place where me and my students could focus on our connections to the lit we read, have all those discussions we never seem to have time for in class. I don't know how the logistics or ethics of it would work, I imagine it would probably not be okay with admin., but I like the idea.

Mary Lee said...

I just wrote about connections! Check it out:

mamamarta said...

recently trixie and i were driving, and she was telling me about a book on greek gods and goddesses that she had read. she wondered if j.k. rawlings had named minerva mcgonagle after minerva, the goddess of wisdom. i told her that i was quite sure that rawlings choice was not a coincidence, and i started to talk to her about what literary allusions are. she interrupted me (i was admittedly going on and on) and said, "mom, that sounds like a text-to-text connection." duh! "yup, honey, that's exactly what it is," and i shut up. these kids these days, they're just too smart for me!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

These stories and ideas are facinating. I think there are classroom blogs around... It seems like a great exercise for a writing or lit class. Read this one:

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I mean this one:
Blog of Proximal Development

Andromeda Jazmon said...

And here's another blog where a teacher is using blogging and talking about teaching with blogs and other technology: Geeky Mom

Thanks to Overwhelmed! I know how to put links in my comments now:)

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Overwhelmed with Joy!