Why it’s important to make text-to-text connections:
1. Making connections in general are important so that students have a greater understanding of the text. By personalizing it, they are able to own the material. It creates more meaning for the student.
2. Making these connections requires thinking, which seems obvious to teachers, but sometimes students will bypass deep thinking and connect with the text on a surface level. By making connections to the text, students make personal connections, thus more thinking and comprehension is involved.
3. Once a student has made a connection with a text, having them analyze it next to another text for similar ideas and themes requires even deeper thinking. Through the repeated exposure and higher level thinking activities, students will gain a greater understanding of all texts.
How I’m using text-to-text connections in class:
For our final unit, my English III class is reading and studying the play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” One thing that I really wanted my students to branch out and become more comfortable with is making connections to the text, specifically text-to-text connections.
Texts I’m using:
- the play A Raisin in the Sun
- Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream speech
- lyrics from the song Strange Fruit
- the poem A Dream Deferred
Lyrics to Strange Fruit (performed by Billie Holiday)
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Questions to ask for making text-to-text connections:
Generic (Via ReadWriteThink):
- What does this remind you of in another book you have read?
- How is this text similar to other things you have read?
- How is this text different from other things you have read?
Specific to my “American Dream” Unit:
- How has MLK Jr’s dream been deferred?
- How would Langston Hughes respond to hearing the I Have a Dream Speech?
- What would Walter Jr’s reaction be to hearing A Dream Deferred? Strange Fruit? I Have a Dream speech?
- What advice would MLK Jr give to Walter and Ruth?
- What advice would Langston Hughes give to Walter and Ruth?
- Have Walter’s dreams been deferred? In what form? How about Mama? Ruth? Beneatha?