Before we begin a new novel, watch a movie or read an article on our favorite blog, most adults have already started tapping into a vast collection of knowledge about what they already know or think about the “text” they are about to engage with.
The ability to tap into our schema and seek out patterns to make sense of new information is an essential reading comprehension skill. It’s also a skill we can teach our students simply by posing strategic questions.
We’ve been reading Judi Moreillon’s book Collaborative Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension and would like to share a series of questions you can ask students to help them build connections between:
- Themselves and the text
- Multiple texts
- Texts and the world
Build Connections with These Reading Comprehension Questions
Building text-to-self connections
One of the best ways to model text-to-self connections is by using think-aloud questions. The following questions focus on three areas of text-to-self connection: feelings experiences, and ideas:
- Have you ever felt like the character(s) in this story? Describe what happened and how you felt
- Have you had a similar experience? Compare your experience to that of the character(s)
- Have you heard or read this information before? What does this information mean to you?
- How does connecting a story or information to your own life experiences help you better understand it?
Building text-to-text connections
Students often do not understand or enjoy readings because they do not see immediate connections between the text and other materials they have already read and enjoyed. To help them make connections between texts, try asking the following questions:
- Have you ever read another book or seen a movie in which a story element (setting, plot, conflict, theme, or style) is similar to the one in this story? Describe how they are the same
- Have you read another book or seen a movie in which the writer used language or text structure similar to that in this story? Describe how these texts are similar.
- How does making connections to familiar texts help you comprehend the new text?
Building text-to-world connections
When students are able to stretch their thinking and see how a text connects to issues beyond what they are reading, it is much easier for them to invest in this new experience. To help your students make connections from the text to social, historical and contemporary issues, pose some of the following questions:
- What do you think the author’s message or purpose was in writing this story or presenting this information?
- Did the author suggest a message that connects with bigger ideas about the way things are in the world? What do you already know about these issues?
- What do you think was the author’s opinion or perspective on the big ideas in this text? Do you agree? Why or why not?
- How does making connections to larger issues help you comprehend the text?