Anchors Away Monday: Making Deep Connections {FREEBIE}

My anchor chart today focuses on 
making deep connections.  
Some of you may not know that I was a reading teacher for two of my sixteen years of teaching, working in fourth and fifth grade classrooms alongside the classroom teacher. (I spent an hour a day in each classroom; the teacher and I would each work with 2-3 guided reading groups each day.)

Occasionally, I would give each student a sticky note as they left my table following their lesson, and instruct them to record a connection they made while reading the assigned pages. I would model, too, of course, but it never failed... some students would return the next day with a weak connection like "This book reminded me of Because of Winn-Dixie because both books have dogs." scribbled on their sticky note. While that is a connection that cannot be denied, it was a simple connection- there wasn't much deep thinking going on. I know students are taught to make connections while they read as early as kindergarten, so by the time they are in fourth and fifth grade, I think they should be able to take it up a notch and make some deeper connections.

Last year, I ran across an amazing blog post by The Second Grade Superkids about this topic. She shared an anchor lesson where she put a golf ball in a glass of water. As it sank to the bottom, she told her kids that the golf ball represented a text.  Then she put a ping pong ball in the glass of water. The ping pong ball floated on the surface of the water, and she told her students that some connections are "surface connections". Next, she put a real golf ball into the glass and it sank to the bottom, resting beside the other golf ball. She told her students that this golf ball represented deep connections, and these are the types of connections we want to make because they help us connect to the story and understand the author's overall message. (Click here to read her blog post and her description of the entire lesson.)

Wow! I wish I would have run across this idea when I was a reading teacher! My students could have definitely benefited from this lesson! I truly believe that this visual experience would have stuck with my students even more than my repeated attempts at modeling well-written connections. I am confident that the differences between surface connections and deep connections would have finally "clicked" with them!  

The next time I have an opportunity to facilitate this lesson with students, I am going to hang an anchor chart that can remain on the wall long after the lesson.
Crafting Connections: Anchors Away Monday: Making Deep Connections: Help students understand the difference between a deep connections and a surface connection. {Includes a FREEBIE}

I also intend to have students add a page focusing on this important skill in their interactive notebook. Feel free to download this page if you would like to use it, too!

Connections: a FREE entry for interactive notebooks! This blog post contains a matching anchor chart! Teach students the difference between a deep connection and a surface connection while reading!
Border by Kelly Benefield. Container by Ashley Hughes.

Connections: a FREE entry for interactive notebooks! This blog post contains a matching anchor chart! Teach students the difference between a deep connection and a surface connection while reading!

If you are looking for some ready-to-go resources for teaching your students about making deep connections rather than surface connections, feel free to check out my PowerPoint. It includes many examples of surface connections, along with revised deep connections. Just click on the image to check it out!
Making Connections PowerPoint- this is an engaging, memorable way to teach students how to make connections while reading! It includes four types of connections (text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-media, and text-to-world), along with stressing the difference between surface connections and deep connections.

Do you have a tried-and-true method for teaching students how to make deeper connections when they read? I would love to hear about it!


  1. Amazing!!! Yes those simple connections drive me crazy!!!! Now to find a golf ball and a ping pong ball!

  2. This is a great idea and super chart! Totally pinning it!

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  3. Hi Deb! I ran across your charts and post and was astounded! This lesson with two golf balls--one a normal golf ball and the other a child's hollow golf ball--dropped into a clear cup of water sitting on top of a text, was an original idea of mine that I shared with a number of classes of teachers that I taught back in 2011 - 2013. The teacher of The Second Grade Superkids attended one of those courses. I never knew that she posted about this . . . and you too. It was and still is a very powerful lessons that allows my young students to see the difference between "surface" connections and "deep" connections that bring us closer to the text. I strongly support launching lessons that are more abstract in concrete ways! I wish you the best . . . more effective teaching as you strive to connect with the students that you guide toward deeper understandings of the books they read.

    1. Hi Janet!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and let me know that you were the creative teacher who came up with this fabulous idea for teaching about the difference between deep connections and surface connections! I absolutely love it! I, too, love to take abstract concepts and try to make them concrete for my students as much as possible. Thank you again!