Text-to-Self Connection

Lesson Author: K.J. Wagner

Overview: After students learn about metacognition and the importance of activating prior knowledge, they will learn various strategies which will enable them to activate prior knowledge. Text-to-Self is one such strategy. The teacher will model the strategy first then have students practice the strategy. Students will continue to practice the strategy as necessary.

Rationale: Research clearly shows that prior knowledge (including experiences and emotions---or schema---is a major factor in students being able to comprehend what they read. Research also shows that students who are explicitly taught and use strategies that activate prior knowledge comprehend better than students who don’t.

Teacher Background: Metacognition is discussed in Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman's Mosaic of Thought. (See Resources Consulted at the end of this lesson.)

Learning Objectives:

The learner will:

  • understand what a text-to-self connection is:

  • see the teacher modeling text-to-self connections;

  • practice making text-to-self connections.
  • _______________ book to be chosen by the teacher. For middle school students, one of the Secret World books by Dorling Kindersley Publishing works well. Black Holes is especially popular;

  • approximately twice the number of picture/children’s books as students;

  • Text-to-Self Graphic Organizer handouts;

  • optional Post-It™ notes, chart paper, overhead and transparency, or board;
  • Introduce lesson.
  • Remember when we talked about activating prior knowledge?
  • Ask: Who can tell me why it’s important to activate prior knowledge when reading?
  • Acknowledge responses and then review importance of prior knowledge.
  • Today we are going to learn about a strategy to activate prior knowledge. It is called making text-to-self connections. (Write this on the board, or have a pre-made poster up.)
  • I am going to read a book to you and model for you how I make connections while I read.
  • I want you simply to listen and notice the connections I’m making, then, you will have an opportunity to do the same.
  • Read book while making connections to self. (The teacher may want to use either Post-It™ notes, chart paper, transparency with a copy of the graphic organizer, or the board to model writing down the connections made.)
  • Ask: As I was reading did you make any connections to your self. Allow time for discussion.
  • Have students choose a picture/children’s book to read.

  • Students spend a week making connections daily in the newspaper, keeping “journal entries” of their connections.
  • Students are given a homework assignment to read a text of their choosing, making connections, and write them down in a log or on a reading response form.
  • Students are given a graphic organizer and assigned the task of making connections while reading text in another subject/class. (Students should be given a few days to complete this. If the teacher is on a team, the teacher will inform his or her colleagues of the assignment.)
  • After the student has had sufficient practice making text-to-self connections, the student will write in a learning log about the strategy and why/how it is helpful to him or her.


After students have had sufficient practice making text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections, the teacher will assess learning by having students read a short story, poem, or other text and make the three types of connections, writing out the connections on a graphic organizer.

Alternative/Additional Assessment: In a one-on-one conference, the student will read aloud to the teacher, making connections.

Resources Consulted:

Christen, W. L., & Murphy, T. J. (1991). Increasing Comprehension by Activating Prior Knowledge. ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #61. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EDO-CS-91-04)

Keene, E. O., & Zimmerman, S. (1997). Mosaic of Thought. Heinemann.

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