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Reciprocal Teaching

Here’s some resourceful information about reciprocal teaching.

I initally learned about the Reciprocal Teaching Strategy while completing one of my reading endorsement courses a few years ago. Reciprocal Teaching is a reading comprehension strategy meant to help students become more independent during reading. The strategy is first introduced by having the teacher model each step in the process and doing it along with the students until students are able to take ownership of the strategy and use it independently. The Reciprocal Teaching strategy has four parts which are: Predication, Clarify, Question, and Summarize. My school district added a fifth part to the process called Visualize or Make a Picture.

As a result of my reading endorsement class, I created a set of reciprocal teaching cards that are used by the students while implementing the strategy. Along with the cards, I created a reciprocal teaching worksheet which the students may use when using the strategy in a small group independently. This worksheet may also be used as an assessment tool.

You may find these documents here:

Reciprocal Teaching Cards
Reciprocal Teaching Worksheet

I used the reciprocal cards by printing about 5 or 6 sets on various color paper (enough so that each student could get one card). I laminated these so they would last a long time. During a reading lesson, whether it was a reading passage or a story from the basal, I would give each student one card. Before reading, I would call on a student with a prediction card to give a prediction. I would say, “Whoever has the yellow prediction card, make a prediction.” That student will then use one of the sentence frames on the card to help them make a prediction or they could make a prediction without using the sentence frames. The sentence frames on the card are there to help the students if they need it. After the student makes the prediction, we would continue reading. It’s up to the teacher how much students will read before stopping to continue with the process. Students could read a paragraph or two, or a page. Wherever the teacher chooses to stop, the process would continue with the following:

  1. The teacher would ask students to look through what they have read and find any words they don’t know or are not sure what they mean. The teacher would then say, “Would the student who has the yellow clarify card, share with the class a word you don’t know or are not sure of.” The teacher would then help the student go through the steps on the card to try and figure out what the word means as used in the story/passage.
  2. Continue by asking the student with the yellow summarize card to give a short summary of what the class has just read.
  3. Then ask the student with the yellow make a picture card to share what they pictured in their mind as they read that portion of the text.
  4. Afterwards, the teacher would ask another student with a prediction card (for example you can call the student with the blue prediction card) to make a prediction about what will happen next in the story.
  5. The process would continue until all students have had a chance to participate.

Another way teachers could use the cards is in small groups of 6 students. One of the students could be the “Teacher” using the Teacher/Leader card to help guide the group in the reading discussion. This is the activity where the Reciprocal Teaching Worksheet would be used as an accountability tool for the students and as an assessment tool if the teachers desires to use it that way.

For the past two years, I’ve used reciprocal teaching in a different way. I hardly used the cards. I instead had students fold a piece of white paper in half (vertical – hot dog style) and then in thirds so that when they opened it they had 6 boxes. I then instructed them to label it the following way:

Top Row from Left to Right: Background Knowledge, Prediction, Clarify

Bottom Row from Left to Right: Visualize, Question, Summary

In the Background Knowledge box I had students write anything they knew about the topic we were going to read about. In the Prediction box they wrote down their predictions based on the cover of the story and/or title. I sometimes used the Prediction Card to help students with starting their predictions. In the Clarify box I sometimes had students write a few words they didn’t know and then had them figure out what the words meant using the steps on the Clarify card. Other times, I would just give students 2 or 3 words I really wanted them to know and we would use the steps on the Clarify card to figure out the meaning of the words. I always left the Visualize box for the end because students spent too much time in drawing their pictures. I just had them go to the Question box and either let them write a teacher-like question that they needed to answer or I gave them a question to answer in that box. They would then go to the Summary box and write a one-sentence summary about what they read. Once they had all the other boxes completed, I would then let them complete the Visualize box by simply drawing a specific part of the story they pictured in their minds or I would guide them in what part of the story I wanted them to visualize.

Below I have listed some additional resources I found online about Reciprocal Teaching:


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