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The Paragraph Reading Exercise

Paragraph reading is a reading comprehension/visual memory exercise to help individuals who can decode words adequately enough, but do not remember what they read. In some cases it can give a child reading comprehension in just 30 days. It is a powerful intervention. It does not work well if there are other more basic skills related to reading that need to be developed first (e.g., developmental vision, word attack skills). It is an easy skill to remediate, but can be very frustrating to the individual with poor reading comprehension. The exercise involves having the participant read one paragraph of grade level or skill level reading ability. The participant is to tell what she/he read without looking back at the paragraph. The participant reads the paragraph again and again until she/he are able to tell in sequential order the main points of the paragraph. Most paragraphs have about five main points. At first participants are usually frustrated with their low ability to comprehend. They may balk at re-reading the paragraph. If this happens, be patient and encouraging. After the participants finally obtain the ability of putting in sequential order the main points of the paragraph, give them much praise and let them know, they now have reading comprehension for that paragraph. Let them know that they will continue to read one paragraph a day this way until they can consistently read a paragraph just one time and be able to put in sequential order the five main points of the paragraph.

This exercise may sound so easy, but to individuals with poor visual memory and/or poor reading comprehension, this exercise is very important. It is easy to assess if your child has this problem. Just have them read a paragraph from a text at their grade level and have them tell the main concepts in sequential order. They will be able to do it or they will not. If not and they can decode words and do not have any developmental vision problems, then this exercise should help. Most children will see significant progress within the first month of doing this exercise everyday (5 or 6 times per week). Some children may need to continue this exercise for 6 months.

With children who have reading comprehension problems, many teachers and parents are tempted to have the child develop comprehensions over a complete story or book. We feel this is a waste of time and energy. After the child has mastered the ability to comprehend one paragraph, then they are likely to be able to comprehend whole stories or books. Spend the time mastering comprehension over one paragraph before attempting visual comprehension of a whole book or story.

Older children and college students may need to do this exercise with difficult reading material (e.g., journal articles). This exercise will increase their ability to comprehend difficult material.

Materials Needed. One paragraph from a book or story that is within the participants ability to sound out the words relatively easily

Step by Step Instructions.

1. Insure that the reading comprehension problem or visual memory problem is not due to a developmental vision problem or word attack or decoding problem. Solve these problems before attempting this exercise.

2. Choose a paragraph from a book that is well within the participants reading ability. I Wonder Why Penguins Don't Get Cold: And other questions about birds. is a great example of a book for second, third and fourth grade readers. The paragraphs are complete stories.

3. At first, have the child read the story out loud (this combines visual memory with auditory memory). To have the child address specificly visual memory, have the child read the story to themselves. We recommend at first having the child reading out loud.

4. Take the paragraph away and ask the participant to tell you in sequential order the main concepts of the paragraph.

5. If the child is unable to do so, have the child reread the paragraph.

6. Take the paragraph away and have the child try again to tell you the main concepts of the paragraph in sequential order. If the child is struggling a lot, you can ask them a question about the story and if they cannot answer it, have them look for the answer when they read the story again.

7. Give them back the paragraph and have them re-read the text.

8. Continue steps 6 and 7 until the child is successful at being able to tell you in sequential order the five main concepts of the paragraph.

9. Praise the child and have them tell you what they have learned and explain to them that this is what reading comprehension is all about. The child has learned something through reading. They can also remember what they have read!

10. Try to do this exercise on a daily basis (5 to 6 times per week). If you skip a day, use Saturday morning and again Saturday evening to catch up.

Exercise: The Paragraph Reading Exercise.

Time: Time: about 45 minutes at first, less time as ability improves.

Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days per week.

Pretest Assessment: Normal comprehension is 80% of what someone reads. Anything at 70% or below can benefit from this exercise if they have normal developmental vision and normal word attack skills.

Mastery. Mastery is achieved when the participant is able to consistently tell the main concepts of the paragraph in sequential order after reading the paragraph one time.

Recommended Refresher Frequency: Repeat this exercise every time reading material is significantly more complex. However, once reading comprehension is developed, it usually does not have to be refreshed.

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