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Making Text-to-Text Connections Between Written Works

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  • 0:02 Common Ground
  • 1:00 Why Make Text-To-Text…
  • 2:17 Why Are Connections…
  • 4:03 How to Make…
  • 9:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In this lesson, we will discuss connecting different writings to each other by learning about the authors, examining the literary elements, and reflecting on the writings.

Common Ground

When you meet someone for the first time, you probably introduce yourself, ask him/her a few questions, and then try to find what the two of you may have in common. While doing this, you probably talk about similar interests, likes or dislikes, and even future goals or plans. Afterward, you may leave thinking about what you discovered that you had in common and hope to see each other again.

When you make connections in literature, you are doing the same thing. When you finish reading a novel or short story, you spend time reviewing the key ideas and elements used by the author. Then you may read another story and use the same process. However, you may now also spend time seeing how the two texts are connected. When you practice text-to-text connections, you are seeing what the two writings have in common. In this lesson, we will look at how to compare two pieces to make connections between them.

Why Make Text-to-Text Connections?

Before we discuss how to make text-to-text connections, it is important to know why these connections are important. The main reason we make these connections is to become better readers and writers. Developing these skills will help you in not just your English classes but your other classes as well. It will also help you develop writing skills that can be used in the workforce. These reading and writing skills can continue to grow and be challenged by making connections between texts.

In addition, making text-to-text connections will help with your comprehension of the two stories. You will have to not just read the material but evaluate it. This will help you become familiar with the writing and discuss its importance more clearly.

It will lead to more critical thinking and analysis. When you read a story to connect it to another, you will have to ask yourself questions and find these answers. You will have to learn more about the literary elements of the story and how to discuss them correctly.

Finally, making text-to-text connections will ultimately make you a stronger reader and writer. When you are able to successfully interpret a story and then connect it to another, you will become more confident not just in your critical thinking but your reading abilities.

Why Are Connections Important for Analysis?

When you read to make text-to-text connections, it is important that you are able to analyze the writings. When we analyze, we are separating the writing into parts and then seeing how these parts are related. In literature, we separate into parts by examining the literary elements. We then want to see how these elements are related to other works written during the same period, by the same author, or those works about the same topics.

The main goal of making text-to-text connections is to explore the different ways authors approach their writings. Although two novels may be written in the same era, we may find differences in characters, setting, and writing style. If we read two novels about the same topic, we may find differences in how the authors approach the topic itself, which may lead to a different interpretation of the same event. When you finish making text-to-text connections, you should have a clearer picture of how two authors may approach the same theme, type of characters, or setting the same or different.

It is important to remember that making connections between texts is much deeper than just listing surface-level details. Reviewing the authors' lives, the literary elements, and your personal response is the beginning of making connections, but now it is up to you to make these connections into a strong discussion and deeper analysis. When you make connections, you do not just want to state the obvious. For example, do not just say they are both female characters. Rather, you should find traits in their personalities or decisions to discuss. Or rather than saying, the stories both made me feel sad, explain how these stories made you feel this emotion.

How to Make Text-to-Text Connections

Let's assume that you have been assigned to read Dr. Seuss' books Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. We'll look at how to make text-to-text connections using these two books.

The first step to making connections between texts is to learn more about the authors. You should spend time reading the biographies and trying to see what the two writers have in common. This may be gender, age, background, race, or culture. Sometimes the two authors may not have anything in common, but that's okay! There are many ways to find connections between stories, and this is only the first step. If you discover that the authors do have similar characteristics, then make note of this! These details may become important later as you analyze the text.

For our example, the books are written by the same author, so you would want to spend time seeing how your background is the same or different than Dr. Seuss. Spend a few minutes learning more about him and the history of his books.

The next step to making connections is to look through the literary elements. There are many elements to literature, but some key elements to use as part of the analysis are:

Plot, the main events of the story: When you analyze the plot, you should look at how the main events are presented. How do the authors share the story? Do the two stories share any similar plot lines? In what ways are the two stories alike or different?

In Green Eggs and Ham, the story tells of Sam trying to make the narrator eat green eggs and ham. In The Cat in the Hat, the story tells of two children home alone who are surprised by the cat. As you analyze, you see that the two stories share the idea of being disrupted by someone. They also have a similar plot line of characters insisting to be left alone and then trying to convince the intruder to leave. In the end, they are still different. The children convince the cat to leave and then pretend nothing has happened. In Green Eggs and Ham, the narrator decides to try the meal and then is happy about it.

Characters, the people in the story: What are the characters like? How do they relate to each other? Do they change or stay the same? What traits do they have? What roles do the minor characters play? How are the characters alike or different in the stories? Do they make any of the same mistakes or actions?

In our example, both short stories have a villain, the cat and Sam. Both villains just show up and then try to convince the other characters to act out of their norm. They are similar in personality - persuasive and stubborn. They do act differently, though. The cat is more direct and makes many messes trying to interact with the children. Sam just talks to the other character and leaves no messes.

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