Part of my job as a reading specialist is toÂ teach demonstration lessons on reading strategies.Â It’s one of my favorite parts of my job because I get to work in classrooms with children and teachers.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is an excellent book to useÂ for teaching children to make connections as they read.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
The book is packed with wonderful “connection-maker” writing.Â Wilfrid Gordon helps Miss Nancy, an elderly neighbor who has “lost her memory,” regain old memories and make new ones.
Prior to readingÂ the book aloud to the children, I remind them of what it means to make a connection.Â Then I introduce the three kinds of connections:Â text to self, text to text, and text to world.Â I give each child three sticky notes and ask them to write down any connections they make as I read the story.
As I read, I stop frequently to share my own connections (modeling).Â In the “memories make you cry” part, I tell about my father’s death.Â In the “memories are warm” part, I tell about the time when I was a child and we had an ice storm. The electricity was off for a few days, and my entire family slept around the fireplace.Â It was cold outside, but inside we were all warm and safe.Â As I read I also stop occasionally and let the children share the connections they’ve written.
As I read and share my own connections, I stress how my connections help me understand the story and the characters better.Â When Miss Nancy remembers her brother who went off to war and never returned, I can understand how she feels because I remember the last time I saw my father before he died - waving bye to him and not knowing he’d never return.Â Be prepared at this point in the book to have some children share heart-rending stories.Â It’s sad, but it’s a part of their lives, and they’re eager to share them.Â
And immediately afterwardsÂ you’ll get to the part about “memories make us laugh.”Â Then the childrenÂ can share their funny connections.
“Memories are more precious than gold” makes me think of the memories I would never give up for any amount of money.Â EvenÂ young children have such memories.
At the end of the lesson we talk more about the purpose of making connections.Â I always tell the children they can keep their sticky notes with their connections, or they can just throw them away.Â They almost always choose to keep the records of those connections/memories.