Reciprocal Teaching to Improve Reading Comprehension

Reciprocal teaching is a learning strategy that involves students actively participating in the reading and comprehension process. It was developed in the 1980s by two researchers, Palincsar and Brown, who were studying ways to help students understand complex texts. The goal of reciprocal teaching is to give students the skills they need to become self-sufficient learners.

So, what are the benefits of reciprocal teaching? For one, it helps students develop a deeper understanding of the material they are reading. When students are actively engaged in the learning process, they are more likely to retain the information. Additionally, reciprocal teaching helps students develop important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. These skills are not only useful in the classroom, but also in everyday life.

There are four main strategies that are used in reciprocal teaching: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. Summarizing involves condensing the main ideas of a text into a shorter, more concise form. Questioning involves asking questions about the text to deepen understanding and promote critical thinking. Clarifying involves identifying any confusing or unfamiliar words or concepts in the text and finding ways to understand them. Predicting involves making educated guesses about what might happen next in the text based on what has already been read.

Example step-by-step approach to implementing reciprocal teaching in the classroom

  1. Introduce the concept of reciprocal teaching to your students and explain the four strategies (summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting). These concepts may take a little extra reinforcement, so take some time providing some practical examples of how each strategy might be used when reading text. It can then also be helpful to do one sample session with a few volunteer students before moving on to a whole-class exercise.
  2. Select a text that is appropriate for your students’ reading level and content area.
  3. Divide the students into small groups of four and assign each person in the group a specific strategy to focus on (e.g., one group focuses on summarizing, another group focuses on questioning, etc.).
  4. Have each group work together to practice their individual, assigned strategies as they read the text. Encourage them to discuss their thoughts and ideas with one another.
  5. As the teacher, circulate around the room to provide support and guidance as needed.
  6. Once the groups have finished reading the text, bring the class back together and have each group present to the rest of the class. Encourage the other students to ask questions and engage in discussion.

What might students say about reciprocal teaching?

Some students may find it to be a more engaging and interactive way to learn, as it allows them to take an active role in the process. Others may find it to be a more challenging way to learn, as it requires them to think critically and collaborate with their peers. However, most students will likely agree that reciprocal teaching helps them to better understand and remember the material they are learning. Just keep in min that students who struggle more with reading comprehension might experience some anxiety around working in this type of group activity. This is one reason that careful consideration of the chosen text can make a big difference in the success of the activity.

In conclusion, reciprocal teaching is a learning strategy that involves students actively participating in the reading and comprehension process. It helps students develop a deeper understanding of the material, as well as important skills like critical thinking and collaboration.