Learning to Read With Reciprocal Teaching

Kids reading in groupThe best teachers understand having multiple reading strategies in their teaching bag of tricks is the best way to reach all students.  They also know the strategies that deliver the biggest impact are those that allow children to take an active part in the process.  Reciprocal teaching is such a strategy.

What makes reciprocal teaching so powerful?

First of all, it’s so far removed from rote paper and pencil question/answer drills it’s like on another planet.  Students are actively involved and are encouraged to ask questions while reading.  That way they have to think about meaning and monitor their own comprehension.

Secondly, it teaches skills that all successful readers use intuitively.  When adults read, they subconsciously go through a comprehension process.  They don’t stop and say, “Now I must clarify what I just read” – their brain has learned to do that for them as they continue reading.

Reciprocal teaching helps students internalize this process and more.  It’s based on four reading strategies: questioning, clarifying, predicting, and summarizing, not necessarily in that order.  How does it work?

In a nutshell, students are placed into small groups (3 or 4 works best) and each student is given a role.  One may be the questioner, one is the clarifier, one the predictor and so forth.  The teacher may take on a role as well.   With teacher guidance a text is read and each student does his or her part.

Below is a Reading Rockets video that gives an excellent example of how reciprocal teaching is done.  Watch it and get ideas you can implement in your classroom right away.