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Mindful Reading Comprehension Techniques
Making Reading & Comprehension Faster and Easier
Vishal Sharma, Founder, SMILES in Education
Why: Reading, understanding, and analyzing are required not only in language subjects (English, French etc.) but also subjects such as history, math, or science. For reading any text, our brain processes the literal words, their relationship with one another, the context behind the words, the emotion and meaning behind the text, and how the text comes together as a larger, coherent whole.
Problem: Reading comprehension involves many processes happening in our brain at once, so it is easy for some aspects of a text to get lost in the muddle.
1. Mindful Focus Position (MFP): Before reading any text students increase their concentration by tapping on the prefrontal cortex PFC (forehead) with deep breaths. This helps in focusing, recalling, thinking creatively and decision making. They also use this to connect to previous knowledge.
2. Mindful Learning/Listening Position (MLP): Students listen or read silently by sticking their tongue to the roof of the mouth. This balances the limbic system resulting in calm mind and enhanced memory. They remember more of what was read. Also they are saved from distractions by keeping mind engaged in MLP while reading.
3. Mindful Writing Position (MWP): Students write with one hand and keep the other hand also in the same position without actually holding the pencil. This balances both the left and right brain helping them be both creative and analytic.
4. Positive Energy Booster (PEB) is mindful breathing with a positive affirmation: I know..., I can..., I want... and I will enjoy...
How: Steps for effectively doing Reading and Comprehension for any subject/grade :
1. Focus your brain using Mindful Focus Position (MFP).
2. Motivate yourself by doing Positive Energy Booster with deep breaths.
3. Read a paragraph using Mindful Learning Position(MLP) and visualize what was read.
4. Recall the complete text using Mindful Focus Position.
5. Read questions and underline keywords.
6. For all the critical thinking questions (like how and why), where there is no clear textual evidence, visualize the answer with eyes closed.
7. Write text using Mindful Writing Position (MWP).
Vishal Sharma used this technique with 31 students of grade 4 in a low income school in India as a part of his fellowship with Teach for India which is a non-profit organisation and a part of the Teach For All network. These students belonged to illiterate families who did not know English. Within 3 months of using mindfulness integrated techniques, 25 out of 31 students who were earlier showing slow improvement in RC levels in English showed immense improvement. 4 students easily jumped up 2 levels in RC.
“My RC level has increased from 1.5 to 3.5 due to practicing Peace Position and Positive Energy Booster. I also practice Focus Position.” - Supriya, Grade 4
“I practice Mindfulness before doing homework. I do meditation in peace position, close my eyes and also do Positive Energy Booster(PEB). I feel better. If something I don’t know, I do Focus Position. Then, I am able to recall, and I write it.” - Devendra, Grade 4
"I do Mindful Breathing which makes my mind calm and I can focus on my paper. My RC level has increased from 2.5 to 4.0." - Komal, Grade 4
“I am really grateful. I got good result in exams. Thank you for the methods of studying like the Mindful Learning Position and the tapping on the head (Mindful Focus Position).”
- Carolina Pérez, College Student, Madrid, Spain
Effectiveness Survey showed that out of 2,231 students, the number of students who gained confidence in learning and were able to recall quickly, increased from initially 720 students to 1383 students after they used the SMILES rules. This is a ~ 30% increase in just 4 months of implementation.
Integration of Mindfulness & Positive Psychology with several other pedagogy skills in Vishal Sharma's classroom has evolved into a Holistic Teacher Development program SMILES-in-Education. Vishal Sharma is now the Founder of a Not-For-Profit Organization “SMILES in Life Foundation”. Through his program “SMILES in Education” he trains teachers with wellbeing integrated pedagogical skills. He has been awarded twice as one of the Top 100 Global Innovators by Finland based organization HundrED (2019 & 2020)
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