As a literacy coach I visit a lot of different classrooms at k-8 levels. One of my many hats is modeling lessons for teachers in their classrooms. Sometimes the lesson is a great lesson-sometimes I learn from my mistakes šŸ™‚

This is a lesson on making connections that I have had a lot of success with at a variety of levels, including staff professional development.

My favourite book for introducing Making Connections is called
Leon the Chameleon
by Melanie Watt. It is available in both French and English, through Scholastic. I have presented this lesson in both languages.

I begin by giving a quick review of schema-explaining that when we read it is helpful to think about how we personally relate to the text we are reading. We use our schema to help us understand. Everyone in the room has a lot of information in their heads that they already know, but none of us know exactly the same things. That is called our schema. We use our schema to help us make connections to what we are reading. That helps us to understand the book better because we use what we already know to help us understand something new.

Obviously not everybody will have the same connections as I do. The point is to find a book that you do connect to personally and draw on that connection. Many of the teachers I have shared this lesson with, have purchased the book and "borrowed" my stories. Other teachers use books they connect to.
I introduce the book.
I ask the children if they know what a chameleon is. Then I tell them that I chose the book because when I found it, I got really excited. I have a lot of connections to chameleons. They remind me of when I was a little girl. My brother and I used to go into the jungle in Nigeria looking for chameleons. We would usually find one and bring it home. My mum always made us take them back to the jungle after a while, so that they didn't die.
I proceed to read the book to the students, stopping at the places I have connections to and saying This reminds me of when...that helps me understand the story because ...
Some parts of the story that children really relate to:
-Being left out of a game
-Playing (Camouflage and Seek)
-Getting lost
-Feeling lonely

The key to modeling yourself making connections is not to let children railroad the conversation by making a million irrelevant connections of their own. Keep them on task by teaching them key stems such as:
That reminds me of...
I remember when...
That looks like...
and finally finishing their sentence by saying how that connection helps them understand the story.

Example:"That reminds me of one time when I got lost and I was really scared. That helps me understand the story better, because I understand how Leon must have been feeling when he was lost."

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