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Minimize Discussions About Text-to-Self Connections

aug 20, 2013

FAQ: With all that the Common Core State Standards value in reading comprehension—text complexity, text structure, question the author, main/central ideas, etc.–is there anything that is devalued in the CCSS that teachers need to stop emphasizing?

ANSWER: Yes! You will NOT find the following phrases in any of the CCSS language: make text-to-self connections, explore ideas in a personal response, relate the text to your own life, etc.

It wasn’t long ago that many teachers encouraged students to make lots of text-to-self connections, asking if they could relate to the situation or concept. During reading, there were often frequent discussions where students shared experiences that related to the concepts or characters in the text. And then, after reading, students may have written personal responses recording their own connections to the text.

However, all this text-to-self connecting encourages students to talk OFF the text. It starts with one student expressing his personal experience, and then another shares, and another, and another… And it’s not long before you’re facilitating a conversation that is only loosely related to the text’s intended purpose and author’s original ideas.

Rather than allowing such surface connections, the teacher must navigate the conversation to be about how connections help the reader better understand the author’s ideas. It’s about the author’s text, not the student readers. The CCSS push students and teachers to talk ABOUT texts, not OFF them.

This new emphasis is highlighted in Reading Literacy and Reading Informational Text Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. Whether it’s analyzing versions of the same story, comparing information acquired within multiple texts on the same concept, or evaluating authors’ contrasting claims on the same issue or event–students must learn how to make text-to-text connections ACROSS texts. This is the kind of “making connections” the CCSS values.

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