Strategy Name: Viable Connections

Strategy Description: This is a comprehension strategy. Students read a text and make a connection to the main idea(s) to help them remember what they learned.
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Description/Name of the class in which you used the strategy: Science

Rationale: (Why did you chose to use this strategy with these students?): My students often want to make what I call “pleasant side trip” connections that really have nothing to do with what we are learning. This strategy and the graphic organizer force students to think about their connection and whether or not it really will help them remember the content they are reading about.
A little background: I spent about a week modeling the strategy for the students. After that I gradually released responsibility for the strategy to my students. Now, they can do it on their own. When asking my students to do this strategy, I give them a text that is at their independent reading level on the topic we are studying which they read on their own or I read a grade level text aloud as they follow along. I direct students to read the passage or text and while they are reading to think about what the main ideas in the text as they read. I ask them to make a connection to one of the main ideas they encounter as they read.
1. Students are given a text to read or one is read to them.
2. They are asked to identify the main ideas the author is trying to get across.
3. Each student writes the author’s words or idea that they connected to in the first box of the organizer.
4. In the second box, they write their connection—what the author’s words or idea remind them of.
5. In the third box, they write what they know about their connection.
6. In the fourth box, they write down how their connection helps them understand and remember the author’s main ideas.


  • How did it go?
This activity generally went well. It is something we have been working on as a class for about one month. This was the first time I asked them to do it without help from me. A few of my students still had questions about how to do it--only because they are unsure of themselves. After talking to them about their questions, they determined that they really did know how to do the activity and how to make viable connections. It is really exciting to see my students being able to make such rich connections to other things they have read. They are moving from making so many text-to-self connections to making more text-to-text and text-to-world connections. They are definitely growing as readers and using what they are learning across the curriculum.
  • Describe the experience from your student's view. Did this literacy strategy reach diverse learners? What learning styles responded well to this strategy? Did you have students engaged that previously weren't? What learning styles seemed to like it least?
This activity really caters to my students who learn best by writing things down. My students who need to talk things out or hear things had a more difficult time because I did not allow for talking this time (we’re preparing for the long silence of ISAT).

  • What changes would you make if you use the strategy again?
I use this strategy often and have found that it works best when students are allowed to discuss what they are reading. Often, the discussion triggers a connection for them. However, there are times when discussion is not possible and so I do want to force my students to make connections without discussion.

  • Make suggestions for using this strategy in other content areas.
This strategy works well in all content areas. Students can make connections to math—where they see shapes and angles, when they’ve spent money and gotten change back, etc., in social studies—connections in finding the similarities and differences in historical events and current events, in science—what they know about other similar animals, weather, etc.