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To do this, students need to be actively involved in their reading. One way to encourage students to actually think about what they are reading is to have them find connections to it.
There are three main ways that students can make connections with text to improve their comprehension.
Connect With Self: This connection allows the students to connect the text with their own life. For example, if students are reading a story about a basketball player, some of your students might also play basketball. Getting them to realize that they have a connection to a character in a story deepens their understanding of and interest in the plot.
Connect With Another Text: This type of connection forces students to connect what they are reading with something else that they have read. It could be a newspaper article, book, short story, or anything else. This is usually more challenging for students, so you might have to provide them with other reading material to make it possible for them to be successful at first.
Connect With the World: This would be a connection that links the text with a world event. This works well with some text and not well with others. You may need to provide students with newspapers or assign them to watch the evening news to make them more aware of world happenings. This is also a good time to pair with the history teacher. You could possibly arrange to read an historical fiction story that covers the same topic as what is being studied in history.
Connecting the story with themselves is probably the quickest and easiest type of connection for students to make. Knowing this, you may want to limit the number of these types of connections they can make. Or, you may be fine with this. It probably depends on your subject matter and topic you are studying. Also remember to give plenty of examples of what you expect before turning students loose to complete this assignment. You will get much better responses if they have a good idea what you expect from them.
This strategy can be used multiple times. In fact, the more familiar with it students are, the more in-depth their connections will be, which will increase the value of this activity over time.