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12. Connections pt. 1: Text-to-Self

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Hi everyone, it’s Monday December 7 2020. This month we’re talking about connections so here are some connections you can make. December is

National Car Donation Month

AIDS Awareness Month

National Pear Month

Bingo’s Birthday Month

National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month

National Human Rights Month

National Tie Month

National Write A Business Plan Month

Operation Santa Paws

Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Spiritual Literacy Month

Universal Human Rights Month

Worldwide Food Service Safety Month

Selflessness month

Also, President Franklin Roosevelt referred to December 7th, 1941 as “A day that will live in infamy.” That is because it was on that day that Japan attacked an American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,300 Americans were killed and in response the United States engaged in what would become known as World War 2.

There are so many things we can connect with from what we just heard so let’s start to shift toward understanding how these connections work. Did you know that the brain really likes to make connections? Well, it does. Holla

You just said Holla. That's a connection to an earlier episode. Did you know that making connections is one of the most important skills a reader can have? It’s true. There are 3 types of connections we talk about in reading.

Text to Self

Text to Text,

Text to World.

For this week we are going to think about text-to-self connections. These are the connections you make between something you’ve read, or seen, or heard about, and something you’ve directly experienced. Or in the case of a person, someone you personally know. As you read, anything you discover that connects directly to your life can be a text-to-self connection. That would be something you have first-hand experience with. And just so you know, when we are saying Text, we are really meaning material. Because you can make these types of connections with music and movies and video games and videos and whatever.

But, to focus on reading for a minute, when you can make a connection to the text, you are better able to understand the text you are reading. In fact, it may help make a deeper connection with the material. In return, the power of the text may help you deepen your own experience of life, by connecting with the text through an experience of emotion information. This usually happens through the use of empathy.

Empathy is the Social Emotional Literacy skill that refers to the ability to share in the feelings of others from backgrounds, cultures, or situations different from your own. When you use empathy, you are imagining what things are like from someone else’s perspective. Perspective means the way you think about something. It’s like a person’s “point-of-view". So, even if you haven’t had the direct experience that a character is experiencing you may still be able to connect the text to yourself by imagining that situation, or by connecting to your own emotion experience if you were in that situation.

Using empathy to take another person’s perspective is a great way to create a text-to-self connection with whatever you are reading or listening to or watching. But what happens when your self-awareness kicks in and you realize your mind is not on what you are doing; that your internal connection to what you’re reading or watching or listening to is distracted or broken for a minute. That can happen a lot.

If your internal connection breaks, there may be some very important things that have happened. That’s why it’d be good to use yourself awareness to ask yourself what’s going on. Here are 3 things to consider when you recognize you are not paying attention to what you are reading or doing. First, ask yourself, do I need to reread to understand something? Maybe you just got bored or distracted. Happens all the time. If so, reread. Or take a break and come back to the reading later.

Sometimes though, we are distracted from what we are doing when our brains are making a new thought by combining a whole bunch of other stuff. New thoughts can happen when brains are working to put together their own thoughts, opinions, and connections toward something new or something compound like – you build a new understanding or you change the way you think about something.

In fact, that new idea may be related to something called synthesis. Synthesis is the process of combining single things to make compound things. It’s like when you combine simple things to make more complex things. Here’s one way to think about synthesis. When you take individual letters from the alphabet and put them together you are synthesizing letters into words. When you take words and combine them together you are synthesizing words into sentences. Sentences can be synthesized into stories and stories can be synthesized into books. You can also think about synthesis related to synthesizers. Mr. Manzo wants us to mention that because his band uses a lot of synthesizers. Thanks for the distraction Mr. Manzo.

Many new ideas come from synthesizing other ideas together. The Star Wars universe is all about synthesis. So is the MCU. Also, those things utilize a lot of connections to other stories. And now, because of the popularity of these things they are also used as a reference in other things. When you spot that happening you are making another type of connection (text-to-text) but we’ll talk about that next week.

Another reason you might get distracted is that you find yourself lost in an emotional connection. This can happen when something we are reading or watching or experiencing connects with in such a strong way that we recognize the experience of emotion. Maybe it’s through empathy, or maybe it’s connected to memory, or maybe it’s even connected to a “what-if” scenario. All of those can be informed by emotion information.

So here are some questions you can ask yourself to increase your text-to-self connections with reading, listening, or watching something, and synthesize some new thoughts.

Ask yourself,

  • What does this story remind you of

  • Can you relate to the characters in the story?

  • Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life

And here is a way to practice your synthesis. Imagine baking something. Baking is all about synthesis. Imagine a cake. Imagine your thoughts are like the different ingredients. You have flour, sugar, water, eggs, baking soda. Those are all separate thoughts. You put those together. You pour in background knowledge and you pour in emotional reactions, you add in other viewpoints, and things you're wondering, you combine it all together (that’s the synthesis part) you bake it and when it comes out all those things have a new relationship with one another.

The point is that synthesis, through connections, changes your relationship with things. For the cake metaphor, the things were separate ingredients. They are not a cake until they are synthesized in the oven. The relationship changed by baking. By making connections with something you are able to change your relationship with it.

New thoughts can happen when brains are working to put together their own thoughts, opinions, and connections toward something new or something compound like – you build a new understanding or you change the way you think about something, and the same can be said for new relationships. That’s one way we can learn and grow.

And here’s the real great thing. Everything we’ve said today, you could replace the idea of text-to-self, with the idea of others-to-self. The connections you practice making with the things you read and listen to and watch can all be practice for how you build the skills to connect with other people. Who would have thought that ELA is really just SEL in wolf’s clothing. Until next week, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.

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