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Ten Perspectives for Understanding Proportional Reading

Metacognitive Strategies for Improved Reading

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One of the best ways to understand Proportional Reading (PR) is from ten different perspectives. This is somewhat akin to looking at a statue from ten different positions, including from the front, sides, back, looking down from above, and up from the ground, etc. The idea is that if something makes consistent sense from all ten perspectives, then it probably has merit. This is the approach used in writing grant proposals.

So, here is a brief look at the Proportional Reading program from ten different perspectives. This article is meant to be a thorough introduction to Proportional Reading, using some of the framework of a grant proposal. It is not meant to be a complete grant proposal. Nevertheless, most of this paper can be copied directly into a grant application.

1. Overall Objective

Proportional Reading (PR) is an approach for helping people of all ages and all levels of proficiency to improve their reading comprehension, focus, concentration, speed, recall and enjoyment. The goal is to make reading more fun and more enjoyable than watching TV, doing drugs, or playing video games. In short, the goal is to make reading a preferred choice of time, because it is more thrilling, as well as producing knowledge and empowerment. The narrower, immediate focus is to help students and adults read textbooks, novels, and Internet articles with more comprehension, in less time, and with much more enjoyment, so they will do their assigned reading and choose to become lifetime learners.

2. Proportional Reading Principles:

a) Comprehensive Approach To Instruction.

There is an overall progression of steps in the PR technique from helping beginners and/or very poor and challenged readers to helping average and good readers become excellent readers. A short evaluation is used to help each individual start with just the techniques and placement on this progression of steps that is optimal for his or her individual needs. Periodic consultation with the student is complimented by the student doing independent practice, for Free, using materials supplied on the Internet and formatted for that person’s specific needs. The progression of steps, and the teaching that goes along with each step, and the required pagination of text for each step, with its accompanying interactive audio are collectively known as Proportional Reading.

b) Progression of Cognitive Intervals.

A cognitive interval is defined as the number of words read at a time. There are six basic cognitive intervals: a word, phrase, punctuation interval, sentence, paragraph, and chapter (or book). A punctuation interval is all the words between punctuation marks. As students progress from beginners to advanced readers, they progress from reading shorter to longer cognitive intervals at a time.

c) Changing Interactivity of Computer Voice and Selected E-text.

When students are just beginning to read and are learning decoding, automaticity and basic fluency, they see a specific section of text and they have as much time as they want to read this text out loud correctly. Then they press a button and hear this text read out loud correctly. If the student has made a mistake or stumbled, he or she echo’s correctly what was heard.

Once students have become average readers the interactivity changes. Now students try to read the text silently with the sound. Later and after more instruction and practice, they read silently just ahead of the sound, pausing briefly on the longer words and punctuation points for the sound to catch up. The sound is right behind their reading and instantly corrects any mistakes they have made. The student sets the voice speed for the initial reading of the sentence. Then the program automatically pauses for as long as the student wants to think about what was just read. When ready, the student presses the forward arrow to continue, or instantly repeats each section as often as desired. The second or third time through the chapter, students can read the text with automatic progression, pausing whenever and wherever desired.

d) Enhanced Pagination.

The fastest and easiest way to quickly increase comprehension and speed is to enlarge the font size of the text and to provide a hard return after each sentence and a blank line between paragraphs. Increasing font size to 30 points means four times as much information to the eye on each letter and between letters and between words. This makes it much easier to see the relative size of words and to see the punctuation points. Punctuation intervals can now be seen as blocks of text. No longer does one have to slow down just to read clearly. Each sentence is outlined as it is read out loud, so there is no question as to where one is in the paragraph. Paragraphs, titles, and sub-titles are separated by blank lines and indented at the beginning. Sentences within each paragraph are not separated by a single blank line. Students can see whole sentences as idea blocks, and they are not overwhelmed by too much text at once. Paginating sentences within paragraphs this way also means that the serious writing of textbooks and academic articles (with their long paragraphs) can be easily read on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch with voice accompaniment without the text running off the screen. In addition, text for elementary school readers and struggling readers can optionally have a blank line after each sentence. Almost all Internet articles and e-books can be quickly formatted to read these different ways.

e) New Approach for Overcoming Subvocalization.

This new approach consists of two parts, and is experienced and practiced in our Online Reading Course. In the first part of this approach, students read text without any eye movement. What they see is a Visual Simulation of Speech, without any sound, in which longer words stay on the screen longer than shorter words, in proportion to their length. There is also extra pause time after commas and after semi-colons and periods. Text is presented to students at different speeds up to 1,000 words per minute. Students quickly learn what it feels like to read without subvocalization, lip reading, whispering or speaking out loud. The second part of the approach shows students how to apply these new principles to reading text formatted with normal paragraph presentation. Audio Pacing at increasing speed is now used to help students increase their speed from reading at out loud speed (about 150 words per minute) to over 500 words per minute.

f) Experiencing Reading as Music.

Students learn to appreciate the cadence of short and long words within a sentence. They also learn to appreciate the rhythm of each punctuation interval and the rhythm of the different punctuation intervals with each other, if more than one, within the sentence. These punctuation intervals are seen as musical “blocks” which have a meaningful relationship with each other, involving cadence, rhythm and spacial length. Feeling this “music” as you read greatly enhances comprehension.

g) Accelerated Comprehension Through Pausing.

Students learn that the way to maximize reading speed is to actually increase pausing at the end of each comma, semicolon and sentence; and think about each sentence as much as necessary to actually get the concept, before advancing. Students learn that hearing the sentence read fast and then pausing, or repeating the sentence as necessary, accelerates comprehension much faster  than just rushing through the text.

h) Experiencing Text as Interactive Lecture.

As text is viewed with the eyes, students also hear it as a special form of lecture, where you can have the speaker go just as fast or slow as you want; you have the lecturer automatically  pause for as long as you want after every sentence, or repeat each sentence as often as you want; you also automatically pause on and identify every change in direction (titles and sub-titles); and you pause and look up words for their definition anytime you want. In addition, you can replay the lecture automatically, if you want, at increased speed if you wish, pausing just when you wish, or jumping over sections you already know well. With this approach there is no daydreaming or falling asleep from “boring” presentation by the lecturer. You proceed just as fast as your mind can process the text, and no faster.

i) Brightness Adjustment.

The reader is taught to understand that if any part of the room is too bright during reading, or if the relative brightness of the screen to that of the rest of the room is too great, the reader will just fall asleep, and the faster one tries to read, the quicker this will happen. Students learn how to darken the background color of the screen during evening and late night reading. Students learn how these simple adjustments made during the day and evening will eliminate this major cause of falling asleep.

A simple way to sum up these last nine principles is as Interactive, Multi-Path Fluency, where computer-voice assists reading visual text by punctuation intervals and full sentence, at the speed the brain enjoys processing new information. You can also call these nine principles Metacognition or Metacognitive Strategies for improved reading.

In the past, specialized software and computers were required for doing this program. Now a lot of the software has been converted to Internet videos which anyone can see. Also, students can practice reading specially formatted text on any computer using just the special pagination and no accompanying computer voice. Finally, Specially formatted text can be read with computer voice on any iOS device, or on any Mac laptop or Mac desktop using built-in software. No additional software is required with these Apple devices. However, the progressive instruction and the rules of pagination and related interactive audio remain unchanged. Just the cost of entry has now been reduced to almost nothing.

j) Pragmatic Realization Therapy.

The overall theory of teaching is that improvement should be recognizable instantly. Specifically, a student should be able to decide for herself that approach b is better for her than approach a, and willingly choose approach b because of its pragmatic superiority. This approach is called Pragmatic Realization Therapy, and may be Googled for more study. This approach is student and client orientated, rather than based in seniority, authority or degree status. This approach was almost completely new when it was first introduced.

k) Student Control with Active Engagement.

The student has control over the immediate presentation of material. This involves self-empowerment and responsible decision-making by the student, based on what works better. Students are actively engaged both physically and  mentally as they read. Physically, the student is in charge of maximizing his or her input of knowledge through physically operating the reading controls as he or she reads. Mentally, the student employs active imagination, auditory and visual memory, and thinks about what the text is saying as he or she progresses. The student also resonates with and experiences the music of the punctuation intervals and pauses in each sentence. The physical controls are used to maximize the mental output of understanding. The program will automatically stop as soon as the student stops participating (falling asleep or daydreaming).

l) Turning Reading into a Video Game.

Physical and mental decisions are involved to maximize understanding as text moves and is heard. Only text is visible in this game. The only moving objects are the text and the sound, and all movements of both are controlled by commands from the reader. The object of the game and controls is to maximize understanding of each sentence and paragraph in turn, completely and as quickly as possible. In this way focus, concentration and attention span are very high. Instead of collecting ammunition and weapons, players look up definitions. As with any game, achieving the immediate object and self-improvement in technique are the two main goals. The "points" realized are in terms of immediate understanding and future success on points scored on school tests and discussions. Major improvement occurs with practice. Students have found that they can read chapters in college text books and novels very quickly with this approach, and with high comprehension and enjoyment.

m) Reducing Noise: External and Internal.

A great many students and adults of all ages are distracted by noise that interferes with their ability to focus, concentrate and comprehend as they read. This noise takes two forms. The first is normal external noise in their environment, such as in a crowded room, or on a train or bus. Many college students present this problem. Students with ADD/ADHD experience it even more severely. The second type of noise is internal noise, which comes from unwanted thoughts and anxieties. This is present in a great many mental challenges like paranoid (delusional) schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD, anxiety attacks, and many personality disorders, as well as with plain low self esteem. Note: in some of these mental challenges dysfunctional control presents to avoid the unwanted thoughts. All of these forms of noise can be quickly eliminated by the Proportional Reading (PR) approach, especially when using earphones. The self-directed, exploding comprehension at the speed which the mind thinks, and with the back-up computer voice heard at adjustable speed, is so compelling that it prevents any chance or desire to let in distracting noise, external or internal. Those dealing with severe mental challenges experience an Escape Into Normalcy. Improvement is verifiable immediately. See our related article on Help for Dementia.

3. History

Many thousands of students and adults of all ages have been helped by this program over the years. The program has been used in elementary schools, at home with students of many ages, and in college. A detailed history of Proportional Reading can be read at the following link:

4. Guiding Theory of Development of PR

The basic theory of development was and is that improvement should be recognizable instantly. Again, this approach is called Pragmatic Realization Therapy, and may be Googled for more study. Thousands of students in nine different schools in Hyannis, Massachusetts worked with the developer over two years to debug his existing program. As problems were discovered they were solved, and this process was repeated over and over until the program worked well. This practice of ongoing improvement has remained the central focus in ensuing years.

5. Implementation  in Schools and Colleges

a) Equipment.

This approach is now possible to do by almost anyone, as it only requires access to  an iOS device or Mac desktop or laptop. You can even use a PC for some aspects. Specifically, you do not even need a computer; an iPhone, or iPad, or iPodTouch is just fine. Almost everyone already owns one of these devices, or has access to one.

Secondly, there is no need to buy any new software to read specially formatted text this way.

The platform used is as an html. file that is read with a browser. This format is actually far superior to iBooks, Kindle, and all other readers, none of which are required.

In other words, this approach to reading is available to almost everybody, right now, at no cost for software or hardware.

b) Materials.

Any article on the Internet can be read this way. In addition, there are many thousands of  free books that can be read this way. Any notes written by the teacher, or stories written by the class, or papers written by individual students can be read this way. Any book can be turned into e-text and read this way.

Finally, text preparation once done enables use by all students in a school, not just a few. Nobody has to be denied effective help that works. There is no additional cost to help all the students in a school after material is prepared for one student.

c) Training Time.

This program is designed to be introduced to large numbers of students at one time in an auditorium, or classroom, or small group session for two hours, with a built-in break. Students then follow up by taking the free Reading Course on the Internet, by practicing independently, and by working individually with a coach as needed. The specifics of the  two-hour training session  can be examined by clicking on the following link:

d) Range of Students Helped.

This approach will help all the learning disabled and special needs students, as well as all average and good readers in the school. It will also help the gifted and talented students. In addition, it will provide major benefit to ESL students.

e) Integration with E-textbooks and Printed Textbook.

Reading of the central text on a screen is ideally done just above the printed textbook or e-textbook. All charts, graphs, maps, pictures, animations and movies are seen in the printed book or in the separate e-textbook.

f) Effect on Teacher's Experience.

The teacher starts to have a much better teaching experience with his or her students.

6. Simultaneous Additional Student Benefits of the Program

There are at least 9 major student benefits from the program, above and beyond reading improvement.  Help with writing and help with listening and help with speaking are three of the key additional benefits. A detailed list of all these additional benefits can be examined at the following link:

7. Improvement as You Read Assigned Reading

As you read your assigned reading with this approach, you develop into a better reader, with more comprehension and speed. You develop transferrable skills for reading regular books.

8. Achievable Standard

For college and high school students, the achievable standard is that a college grade textbook chapter of 40 pages can be read in two hours with excellent comprehension and recall, with an experience equal or superior to going to the movies, and focus, concentration and attention equal to or superior to playing video games for long periods of time. Class participation, test scores and long term memory will improve almost instantly.

Middle school students can easily use this approach to read one chapter after another in their textbooks or novels, independently.

For elementary school students, there are a great many ways text can be prepared once by the teacher and then given out as e-mail or Dropbox files for use at home by all students. Students practice independently on their Apple devices, etc., greatly increasing their learning time and their mastery of decoding, automaticity, fluency and chapter books.

9. Lifetime Skill

Learning to read with the Proportional Reading approach is a skill which can be used for all classes and for many years of independent reading after formal schooling ends.

10. Spreading the Skill Set

Students and adults who learn this technique can help others in need.

Written by

John F. Adams

Proportional Reading

Learn More With These Articles:

Experience the Joy of Reading Well

The Nine Major Benefits of Using Proportional Reading

Seven Misconceptions about Reading Improvement

Why Use a Reading Coach

The History of Proportional Reading

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