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Reciprocal teaching refers to an instructional activity in which students become the teacher in small group reading sessions. Teachers model, then help students learn to guide group discussions using four strategies: summarizing, question generating, clarifying, and predicting. Once students have learned the strategies, they take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading a dialogue about what has been read.

Why use reciprocal teaching?

  • It encourages students to think about their own thought process during reading.
  • It helps students learn to be actively involved and monitor their comprehension as they read.
  • It teaches students to ask questions during reading and helps make the text more comprehensible

How to use reciprocal teaching

Before Reciprocal Teaching can be used successfully by your students, they need to have been taught and had time to practice the four strategies that are used in reciprocal teaching (summarizing, questioning, predicting, clarifying).

One way to get students prepared to use reciprocal teaching:

  1. Put students in groups of four.
  2. Distribute one note card to each member of the group identifying each person's unique role:
    • Summarizer
    • Questioner
    • Clarifier
    • Predictor
  3. Have students read a few paragraphs of the assigned text selection. Encourage them to use note-taking strategies such as selective underlining or sticky-notes to help them better prepare for their role in the discussion.
  4. At the given stopping point, the Summarizer will highlight the key ideas up to this point in the reading.
  5. The Questioner will then pose questions about the selection:
    • Unclear parts
    • Puzzling information
    • Connections to other concepts already learned
  6. The Clarifier will address confusing parts and attempt to answer the questions that were just posed.
  7. The Predictor can offer predictions about what the author will tell the group next or, if it's a literary selection, the predictor might suggest what the next events in the story will be.
  8. The roles in the group then switch one person to the right, and the next selection is read. Students repeat the process using their new roles. This continues until the entire selection is read.
  9. Throughout the process, the teacher's role is to guide and nurture the students' ability to use the four strategies successfully within the small group. The teacher's role is lessened as students develop skill.

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