Teaching students to comprehend complex text can be a daunting task. Many teachers do not realize that students must be able to engage with the text in order for the students to comprehend the information in the text. Struggling readers find it especially difficult to connect to a text because they lack the background information, vocabulary, and the necessary comprehension strategies that would enable text engagement.
Explicitly teaching students to make text connections is a very important comprehension strategy because it teaches students to connect with a text using text to self, text to text, and text to world text connections. Before students can make text connections they must have the background knowledge about the subject matter. If students do not know anything about the subject then how are they expected to engage in an inner conversation that will keep them connected the text. I have seen students disconnect from a text shortly after they have begun to read the text. This is especially frustrating for teachers and students on standardized test days when students must read 3-5 passages without a break.
In my experience struggling readers tend to rush through a passage or paragraph with the goal of getting finished. In my classroom the students understand that reading is thinking. The goal is not to get finished so quickly but to slow down and think about what they are reading. This can be done by explicitly teaching students to first make a text to self connection. This is the most basic form of a text connection that a person can make when they read any text. A text to self text connection is what keeps all readers engaged with the text because the text reminds the reader of a personal experience. Text to text and text to world text connections are often the most difficult for struggling readers because of the lack of exposure to other texts and real-life experiences that extend beyond their communities.
Making text connections are not only beneficial in reading but can also help in other subjects such as mathematics because it requires the students to reflect and recall call information. Problem solving is a an area where students must draw conclusion based on the information in the problem, select an appropriate strategy, and then answer the question that is being asked while constantly referring back to word problem. Teaching your students to make text connections could be the game changer for your struggling readers! If you are looking for resources to support text connection try Questioning the Text for FREE!