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Connection Stems

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Connection Stems

Grades 3 – 8
Printout Type Graphic Organizer
Connection Stems



Connection Stems give students the language (and a reminder) to support their understanding by tying new learning to what they know about themselves and their world.

This printout has been reproduced from the following book: McLaughlin, M. (2010). Guided comprehension in the primary grades. Newark, DE: International Reading Asssociation.

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Making connections—to background knowledge, past experiences, earlier moments in a text—is a significant way that readers make sense of and find enjoyment in text. Younger students need to see, hear, and construct those relationships explicitly to gain control of the process.

  • Begin by including connections in a read-aloud with a story that students will have plenty of access to, either from similar life experiences or from content they’ve studied in class.
  • As you model connections, use language from the printout to help students see how connections support engagement and understanding.
  • Invite students to begin making connections with the whole class or in pairs.



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  • As students gain confidence with making connections and using the Connection Stems printout to record them, explain that there are a variety of connections readers make—text to text, text to world, and text to self. Help readers understand that Connection Stems allow them relate to something that occurred in another book or story, an experience they’ve heard or know about, or an experience they’ve had themselves.
  • Use completed Connection Stems to make a visible record of active comprehension throughout the classroom.  After students write a connection, ask them to draw the moment in the text that triggered the connection as well as the event or experience they’re connecting it to. Post their work throughout the room.
  • When students are ready to engage in student-directed book groups, use the Connection Stems to help define the role of Connector for one student in the group.
  • During an author or concept study that asks students to read multiple related texts, ask students to use the Connection Stems to relate each new text to the learning from the ones before.



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Grades   4 – 7  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Boars and Baseball: Making Connections

In this lesson, students will make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections after reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. After sharing and discussing connections, students choose and plan a project that makes a personal connection to the text.


Grades   4 – 6  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Guided Comprehension: Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal

Based on the Guided Comprehension Model by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen, this lesson helps students learn three types of connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world) using a double-entry journal.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Family Ties: Making Connections to Improve Reading Comprehension

Families are all about connections between people. In this lesson, students read three books about different families and make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections to those texts.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Making Personal and Cultural Connections Using A Girl Named Disaster

Struggling to survive is one of the many themes explored in A Girl Named Disaster. As students read, they look for connections between themselves and the main character, Nhamo.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Teaching Student Annotation: Constructing Meaning Through Connections

Students examine text closely and create annotations to make personal and meaningful connections with the work.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Using Personal Connections to Build an Understanding of Emotions

What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Connecting words to feelings enriches vocabulary and helps with concept development.