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Using Reciprocal Teaching to Engage Students

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/25/2012

Reciprocal teaching engages students, creating in them a feeling of ownership in their own learning process. These strategies will boost student achievement.

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    What is Reciprocal Teaching?

    In reciprocal teaching, the teacher guides groups of students to apply different reading strategies in a specific manner. The ultimate goal is for the teacher to transition from discussion leader to discussion facilitator. Reciprocal teaching strategies focus on achieving student comprehension of difficult texts.

    Students must systematically apply the following four reciprocal teaching strategies:

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    Questioning

    After reading the text, student leaders ask their group (usually 4-5 students) questions about what they have just read. Student leaders must consider the main idea of the text, the overall theme of the passage, and how the passage affects the meaning of the work as a whole. Students in the group must demonstrate comprehension of the material to move on to the next strategy.

    Procedures

    • Assign groups of 4-5.
    • Have groups choose their leader.
    • Read a difficult passage or assign a pre-read passage to discuss.
    • Instruct leaders to lead the discussion. Providing questions beforehand works best.
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    Clarifying

    The leader points out confusing and difficult to understand portions of the reading and invites group members to do the same. The group discusses these troublesome sections and uses information from the text to resolve misunderstandings and provide clarifications.

    Procedures

    • Assign a specific number of items for discussion. 3-5 works best.
    • The group should analyze each item with a 3-5 sentence answer.
    • You may assign the passages yourself or allow students to come up with their own.
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    Summarizing

    The leader summarizes the text. Members of the group suggest additions and alternatives to the summary and the leader must evaluate the responses.

    Procedures

    • Make sure the leader has been assigned.
    • The leader chooses a secretary who will write down the summary.
    • The leader assigns a detective to look up evidence to support or negate the examples.
    • The leader assigns a commentator to analyze the summary.
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    Predicting

    The leader predicts upcoming events from the text. Group members suggest changes or additional predictions. Students use the predictions to prepare themselves to read the next segment of the text.

    Procedures

    • Have students post their predictions in the room.
    • As you read, point out the correct predictions, or
    • Have fun with the wrong predictions.
    • Make this a challenge between student groups.

References

  • Teacher experience is the inspiration for this piece.