Making connections helps readers to better remember the text, understand the text at a deep level and increase their level of reading engagement. When modeling and practicing this reading strategy, it is critical to pick the right books. To introduce this reading strategy, I carefully selected books that were not only interesting but had characters that students could relate to.
Each of these books is multicultural which supports scholars as they begin to develop a global perspective. As we talked about the main characters, scholars noticed that these characters were children who were clever, who worked hard and persevered in the face of difficulty...in other words, these characters had GRIT... a habit of mind that I am trying to instill in my scholars.
Beyond specific academic goals, I also have long term 'life goals' for my scholars. One of which is to be an effective communicator. One effort toward this goal was the introduction of a student blog on Weebly. This blog was introduced to students for the first time this week as I asked students to post their T:S and T:T connections. I modeled posting a comment (connection) and each day we read through comments to determine criteria for a 'good' comment, and we developed a rubric of sorts. The criteria included both content and conventions. Students learned quickly that once you hit 'send' "it's out there" and I was amazed to see how many scholars began to read, reread and edit their writing before hitting 'send'. Blogging about their thinking is still in the infancy stage for these young bloggers but I am quite proud of their efforts.
If you would like to read some of their connections and maybe even respond to them, you can visit their blog here: Scholarblogger