When To Use This Strategy
Appropriate Group Size
Why use paragraph shrinking?
- It helps students develop their reading comprehension skills.
- It allows each student to take turns reading, pausing, and summarizing the main points of each paragraph.
Note: Paragraph shrinking was developed as one of the Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) at Vanderbilt University. Because of that, the directions below describe how students work with a peer to complete the strategy.
How to use paragraph shrinking
- Choose the assigned reading and introduce the text to the students.
- Create pairs within the classroom by identifying which children require help on specific skills and who the most appropriate children are to help other children learn those skills.
- Model the procedure to ensure that students understand how to use the strategy.
- Have each member of the teacher-assigned pair take turns being “Coach” and “Player.”
Ask each student to read aloud for 5 minutes without rereading a text. After each paragraph, students should stop to summarize the main points of the reading. Ask students to then summarize the following information:
- The who or what of the paragraph
- The most important thing about who or what
- The main idea
Note: If a “Player” ever gives a wrong answer, the “Coach” asks the “Player” to skim the paragraph again and answer question a second time.
- Ask students to state the main idea in 10 words or less which will encourage them to monitor comprehension while taking turns reading.
- Award each pair points when the above goals of the strategy are met.
This handout provides a concise routine for teaching paragraph shrinking.
Download a blank template
- Paragraph shrinking cards (162K PDF)
This PowerPoint developed by the Center on Teaching and Learning at the University of Oregon explains how to model and practice paragraph shrinking, and includes question card templates, completed question cards, and how to pre-teach paragraph shrinking with pictures.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners
- Have students work together to write out the main points of the reading.
- Change the pairs regularly so that all students have the opportunity to be “coaches” and “players.”
- Monitor and support students as they work together.
See the research that supports this strategy
Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L., & Burish, P. (2000). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies: An Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Reading Achievement. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15(2), 85-91.
Fuchs, L., Fuchs, D., & Kazdan, S. (1999). Effects of peer-assisted learning strategies on high school students with serious reading problems. Remedial and Special Education, 20(5), 309-318.
Saenz, L., Fuchs, L., & Fuchs, D. (2005) Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies for English Language Learners with Learning Disabilities. Exceptional Children, (71).
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. (n.d.). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies. Retrieved 2008, January 21, from http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/pals/