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Reciprocal Teaching

Adapted by Mary Ellen Dakin from Palinscar, A. S., and Brown, A. (1984). “Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities.” Cognition and Instruction, 1 (2). 117-175. Deschler, Donald D., Annemarie Sullivan Palinscar, Gina Biancarosa, and Marnie Nair (2007). Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Practices. 197-199.

Originally developed for readers scoring in the 35th percentile or lower on standardized reading assessments, RT has proved to be a successful method for modeling and practicing essential reading habits with all students in a collaborative classroom setting.

Students read a text and in groups of 3-5, engage in a structured conversation in which they question, clarify, summarize, predict, and connect. Recently, the role of visualizing has been added to RT.

In one or two lessons, introduce students to the process:

  1. Introduce the strategies one at a time, leading a whole group discussion of what it means to question a text, to clarify, to summarize, to predict, to visualize, and to connect with text. Model each strategy for students using a familiar or accessible text. 
  2. Students read a short passage.
  3. Distribute and/or display questions about the passage, each of which has one of the RT strategies embedded in the question. Students respond to the questions in groups or independently.
  4. In the next lesson, distribute another reading passage. Assign students to one of the five RT strategies/roles. Students read the new passage independently, with their assigned strategy in mind.
  5. Students meet in homogeneous groups: the Questioners meet, the Clarifiers meet, etc., to brainstorm and share.
  6. Students meet in heterogeneous groups so that each of the RT strategies is represented. Students take part in their first reciprocal teaching meeting.

Resources for incorporating Reciprocal Teaching in the classroom, including RT Role Cards, RT Stem Starters, and an RT Notes chart, are available at this site.

Standards: Because students work in groups of 4-5 sharing their specialized reading of a text with each other, Reciprocal Teaching has the potential over time to address all the standards for Reading Literature and Reading Informational Text. With RT, students have the opportunity to connect the text to cultural experiences (RL6), to texts in other media (RL7, RIT7), to the ideas of its time (RL8), and to the source material of a text (RL9, RIT9). W2, W9, SL1, SL4, L1, L4, L6