Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hesterberg Learning Fun, Lesson #1: Making Text-to-Text Connections

When I would meet with parents as a classroom teacher, I would always say to them, "You are your child's first teacher.  I may have them all day now, but by the time they get to me (any grade in school), you have already laid the foundation."  And several years later, as a parent myself, I stand by that statement.

The first year I taught, the importance of making connections with my students was constantly stressed, especially in the area of reading comprehension.  While reading aloud with sticky notes, I was trained to individually label them, "T-S, T-T and T-W."  T-S stood for a "text-to-self" connection, T-T represented a "text-to-text" connection, and T-W meant "text-to-world."  Soon, my students and I were making cross-curricular links, too!

As a mother who teaches her children, I constantly wear my "connection lenses."  Every day contains a plethora of teachable moments that you can engage your kids in.  Below, you will find a lesson I recently did with my son that deals with this topic (to give you a tangible example).  Feel free to use it!  I often get my best ideas from other teachers, parents and observing my offspring.  Let me know how you encourage making connections with your students!

Lesson #1:  Making Text-to-Text Connections through Phonics
(Note:  this lesson works best for children who know the alphabet and the individual letter sounds--emergent readers)

How much do I love Pinterest?!  One day, as I was browsing educational activities for little ones, I came across this Word-a-Pillar (follow that link to print a copy for yourself!):

Here is part of the Word-a-Pillar in my son's room.  There are a total of 28 sight words you can print (all FREE!).  My son can read them all (I introduced them, initially, in groups of 3-5 every few weeks).  He is an eager three-year old!

I would review these words with my son a couple of times a week.  If he was reluctant to read through them, I would encourage him to by providing some sort of an incentive (yes, I do bribe my children on occasion).  Eventually, he was jumping at the chance to do sight-word practice!  After one of our sessions he said, "I want the caterpillar to go all around my room!"  He then made an amazing text-to-text connection and said, "It's like The Very Hungry Caterpillar."  So naturally, we read that book next.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a classic.  Don't own it?  Check it out from the library!  I have also found some quality books at thrift stores.

Once I knew that my son could read his sight words, I told him he could then play, "Spell that Word!" (which he loved).  Using magnetic letters on a cookie sheet, he proceeded to spell each of the words while looking at them.  He did this first with my help and then independently (which is always encouraged in our home!)

The first thing he wanted to do before playing the game was to put the letters in order.  We eventually found the Letter C.  Magnetic letters can be found at Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

My firstborn enjoys puzzles, so a few days after playing, "Spell that Word!" he wanted to work on his word puzzles (they were a gift from us to him last Christmas).  They work very well for emergent readers and spellers because of the great illustrations that accompany each word.

Some of the Match It! Spelling words
I highly recommend this game!  We found this one at Tuesday Morning.

My boy loves learning!  I am convinced that outside of us reading aloud to him (of utmost importance!), encouraging him to make connections has made the greatest difference!  I would love to hear about connections your children and/or students are making!

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