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Reciprocal Teaching


Reciprocal Teaching engages students in collective reading and discussion of books. Students learn to guide group discussion and to adopt various roles to engage in four strategies of interaction with text. This activity can help students to become adept at making meaning of even challenging texts, and it helps to foster metacognition as students actively and explicitly identify and apply strategies to texts.

Learning Strategies 

  • Determining Importance
  • Predicting
  • Questioning
  • Synthesizing
Analyzing Theme, Clarifying Confusion

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Metacognition
  • Staircase of Complexity


Identify a target text. Prepare copies of the text for students with stopping points designated at regular intervals Look through your class list and create groups of four. Consider which groupings will lead to the greatest learning.

Activity Steps 
  1. The teacher models reading aloud from a text, stopping at the designated stopping points, and thinking aloud using each of the four Reciprocal Teaching strategies: questioning, clarifying, summarizing, and predicting.

    Students will need time to learn and master each of these strategies, and you may want to start by introducing one strategy a week, until after four weeks students are using all four strategies.

  2. Put the students in teacher-designated groups of for. Give each student a copy of the text with designated stopping points.

    It is important to think about which students will work best together, and which groupings will lead to the greatest learning. Lower-performing students, and students reading harder texts, should stop more frequently to think aloud. Higher-performing students, and students reading easier texts, can stop less frequently.

  3. Give each student a card designating a unique role: Questioner, Clarifier, Summarizer, Predictor.
  4. Students read up to the first stopping point, either independently or together. Students should use pencils, highlighters, or sticky notes to mark the parts of the passage that relate to their roles.

    Students may need explicit instruction and modeling of how to mark text.

  5. At the designated stopping point, the Summarizer retells the main events so far.

    Students may need supplementary instruction in distinguishing main ideas from details so that they are able to target their summaries.

  6. Next, the Questioner asks questions about what they have read so far, including: · Anything that is unclear · Questions about what will happen next · Big ideas or questions raised by the content

    Model asking authentic questions, perhaps using the sentence stem “I wonder…” Help students to understand that good readers always question the text, and that questioning is a sign of good processing, not a lack of understanding.

  7. The Clarifier next discusses the confusing parts of the text, and attempts to answer questions just raised by the Questioner.

    Clarifications can start with the sentence stem “I think this means…”

  8. The Predictor discusses what might happen next, or be discussed next, in the text.

    Predictions shouldn’t be pulled from thin air. The Predictor should be able to identify information already read that justifies the predictions. Encourage students to see if predictions come true as they continue reading—this sort of anticipation can help to focus their reading and maintain their attention.

  9. Students pass their cards to the right, switching roles.
  10. Students read the next portion of the text, either individually or as a group.
  11. Students continue reading and switching roles until the text is finished.

    As students work, you should circulate among the groups, sitting with each group for five minutes or so and listening to their discussion. This is a good chance to get some formative assessment data on each student, and also to offer some targeted instruction.

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