Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World


Reading comes alive when we recognize how the ideas in a text connect to our experiences and beliefs, events happening in the larger world, our understanding of history, and our knowledge of other texts. The Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World strategy helps students develop the habit of making these connections as they read. When students are given a purpose for their reading, they are able to better comprehend and make meaning of the ideas in the text. You can use this strategy with any type of text, historical or literary, and with other media, such as film. It can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of the reading process to get students engaged with a text, to help students understand the text more deeply, or to evaluate students’ understanding of the text.


  1. Select a Text
    This strategy works best with a text that raises universal themes that might resonate with students’ own experiences and with material they have studied previously. Teachers often give students their own copy of the text so that they can mark it up, although this is not required.
  2. Guide Students through Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World
    The accompanying handout to this strategy provides you with sample questions that you can give students to guide them through this activity. The questions in the directions are general, but you can make them specific to the material your class is studying. For example, you might ask students to connect what they read to specific texts or to events you have studied earlier in the school year.
  3. Debrief
    Students gain a deeper understanding of the text, of their classmates, and of the world around them when they have the opportunity to discuss their responses with peers. Students can share their responses with a partner (see the Think-Pair-Share teaching strategy), in small groups (see the Assigning Roles teaching strategy), or as part of a larger discussion (see the Fishbowl teaching strategy).


  • One Connection: If you have limited time, you can give students the option of writing about one connection they have found between the text and another text, their lives, or the larger world.
  • Mapping Connections: Social maps are a visual way of showing relationships between people, but they can also be used to show relationships between ideas and events. An extension of this activity would be to have students draw the connections they find between a text and other ideas, events, or experiences. Students can work on these maps in groups, noting the relationships among their responses.


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