Making Text-to-Text Connections

Today my students impressed me so much!  We were reading Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and discussing the part of the story where Hannah/Chaya experiences the tattooing of Jews in the camps. One of my students raised his hand and said, “Ms. M., that reminds me a lot of Chains“.

Intrigued, I encouraged him to continue.

“Well, the tattooing reminded me of Isabel being branded with an ‘I’ by Mrs. Lockton. In Chains, the ‘I’ is a punishment, a way for Mrs. Lockton to take even more away from Isabel. But instead, Isabel took back the branding and made it hers. She said the ‘I’ stood for Isabel, for her, and not for insolent. And now Hannah/Chaya is taking back the tattoo, making it meaningful to her instead of just giving in and taking it.”

WOW! I had never even thought of that connection, but how great is that? It’s so true, and such a solid connection between the two novels we read this year. I am so proud of my students!

Comprehension Connections

I think I have mentioned Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor before, but it is an invaluable tool for any language arts teacher! Today I used one of the lesson suggestions for inference and it was a huge success!

I brought in a bag of “trash” that I told my kids I took from my weird neighbor’s porch. I really do have a weird neighbor, who I know very little about, so I described him. Then I told them we would be inferring information about him based on the items in his garbage. The kids had a BALL with it! By the end of the activity they were concerned for my safety based on what the inferred. It was great!

In their independent reading, they are now working on an inference chart, making inferences about the main character in their novels and citing the evidence to back them up. So far it’s going very well.

If you don’t already own this book, I highly recommend it!

Poetry Friday

This week I altered a lesson from Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor to practice with our schema. The lesson involved listening to a song, reading the lyrics, and jotting our text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections on a graphic organizer. I had never heard the song before but I loved it and wanted to share a bit.

Rachel Delevoryas

(Randy Stonehill, from Wonderama [Stonehillian/Word, 1992])

Rachel Delevoryas

With her thick eye glasses and her plain Jane face

Sat beside me in my fifth grade class

Looking so terribly out of place

Rachel played the violin

And classical music was out of style

She couldn’t control all her wild brown hair

Her nervous laughter and her awkward smile and

CHORUS • It was clear that she’d never be one of us

With her dowdy clothes

And her violin

And a name like Rachel Delevoryas


Read the rest here.