What Is Reciprocal Teaching?

According to Palincsar (1986):

"Reciprocal teaching refers to an instructional activity that takes place in the form of a dialogue between teachers and students regarding segments of text. The dialogue is structured by the use of four strategies: summarizing, question generating, clarifying, and predicting. The teacher and students take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading this dialogue. The purpose of reciprocal teaching is to facilitate a group effort between teacher and students as well as among students in the task of bringing meaning to the text."

Reciprocal Teaching is most often used as a reading strategy and studies have shown that it can greatly improve a student's ability to comprehend and understand text.

The video below provides more information about this strategy

What Is Reciprocal Teaching? -- powered by eHow.com

Example of Reciprocal Teaching/How To Use It In The Classroom

The following YouTube video is an interview with three teachers that use Reciprocal Teaching in their classrooms. In the first part of the video one teacher provides some ideas as to how to use it in the classroom. The second section is a short section showing students actually engaged in this strategy. The video concludes with one teacher addresses some common misconceptions about this strategy, specifically related to "Does it waste time?" or "How do we know if they are learning?"

This strategy can also be extended into a "cooperative learning" type role so that it fits easier into subjects besides Social Studies and English. Students can take on the role as teachers to "educate" their classmates about a variety of subjects. To ensure they are comprehending the material they are researching for the rest of class they can incorporate this specific reading strategy.

How To Adapt Reciprocal Teaching In A Classroom

1. Students that experience difficulty with the summarizing section of this strategy can be given graphic organizers or checklists to help them organize their thoughts better.

2. Reinforce the idea that mistakes are simply learning experiences to avoid student anxiety with regards to fears about answering questions with the "wrong answers."

3. Have different students take turns being the leader of the discussion for each session.

Misconceptions about Reciprocal Teaching

1. Reciprocal Teaching takes too much time and my students will not learn the required course curriculum.
Yes it is true that this strategy does demand a lot of classtime because the skills need to be taught to the students first. They also need to be continually reinforced throughout the semester. Yes, it also takes a lot of time to have these discussions. However, it is not true that just because it does take a lot of time, that this time is wasted. Students are learning a lot of skills in this trategy about how to read, how to comprehend, how to interact with other students, how to critically think abhout what they are reading and what they think about certain issues etc. Many different learning outcomes/objectives can be achieved using this strategy so that the course curriculum can be covered.

2. I cannot assess this strategy.
Not true. There are many ways in which this can be assess. Please see our assessment suggestions section if you do not believe us.

3. Students who need to write standardized tests will not be prepared for them using this method. They may not get all the required material.
While reciprocal teaching is a lot more student-centered and student-driven, the teacher does need to be present in order to ensure the course content is being discussed and learned about. Teachers may need to intervene if students are getting off onto the wrong track with certain issues. It may also be wise to provide students with graphic organizers and checklists to ensure that they do not miss key points when discussing with the class their findings.

Potential Issues With Reciprocal Teaching

- Students are not motivated to do the required readings for the discussion
- Students are too shy to participate in discussion
- Students are at a variety of reading levels

How To Assess Reciprocal Teaching

- Graphic organizers are easy ways to ensure students are summarizing properly and asking appropriate questions
- Peer/Group evaluations
- Journal entries about the process
- Taking down proper notes during the discussions (for example: have students hand in their notes from the discussion to asses their comprehension level and their level of participation)


Reciprocal Teaching at http://www.youthliteracy.ca/documents/strategies/reciprocal_teaching.pdf (Note: This has a really good "How To" section if you need more ideas about how this strategy is used in classrooms)

Reciprocal Teaching by Learning Point Associates at http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/atrisk/at6lk38.htm (Note: this is where the definition came from in the first section)

Reciprocal Teaching At Work by Lori D. Oczkus at http://books.google.ca/books?id=CJXLTey04m0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=reciprocal+teaching&source=bl&ots=XnPAIEbYkm&sig=8aa_1pmN4mSYrhUFcgYuNeWKIyQ&hl=en&ei=JdCyS5jzD8H68AbChImlAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=&f=false (Note: this is a book! The Goggle Books link only contains segments of sections)

Three Teachers' Adaptations of Reciprocal Teaching in Comparison to Traditional Reciprocal Teaching by Marilyn Marks, Michael Pressley, Joan Develin Coley, Sharon Craig, Rosalie Gardner, Thommie DePinto and Wanda Rose at http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/stable/1001975?seq=1&Search=yes&term=reciprocal&term=teaching&term=adaptations&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dreciprocal%2Bteaching%2Badaptations%26gw%3Djtx%26prq%3Dreciprocal%2Bteaching%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&item=1&ttl=1103&returnArticleService=showArticle&resultsServiceName=doBasicResultsFromArticle (Note: this is a JSTOR article so you will need access to JSTOR in order to read this article. You should read it! It's very good!)