“Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” —Charles Eames
Students need to make connections to grow their schemata. They connect what they are learning to what they already know. In reading they can and should connect the text to themselves, the text to other books, and the text to the world around them. They need the opportunity to articulate these connections.
This is also true in vocabulary development. Students need to seek connections among the new words they are learning. Sometimes connections are obvious and words can be grouped or sorted together into topics. Other times it seems as if there is no connection. It is then that creative and critical thinking are needed. How do I connect a quill to a pizzeria? I guess it is unlikely that the pizza guy would write my order with a quill, but then again—that’s a connection! The book I am currently making a project for, Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo, has both awkward and elegant connections. It needs to become obvious to kids that words’ “oppositeness” is a key connection.
I am including one of my favorite strategies, Connect 2: Just write words you are currently studying. Have the kids randomly use 2 to make connections. This lesson needs to have conversation, whether the kids work as partners, teams, or the the whole class does several examples together. The struggling learners need a chance to have the process modeled. The successful learners need a chance to use their creative and critical thinking.