Reciprocal Teaching

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Get ready to supercharge your students' reading skills with the power of reciprocal teaching! 🚀📚 This deep learning, high-effect size instructional strategy is like a secret weapon for students who struggle with reading. 💪

Imagine a classroom where students who once forgot what they read, felt disconnected from the text, or were years behind in reading level are now actively engaged and thriving. 🌟 That's the magic of reciprocal teaching!

Through the four key strategies of predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing, students become active participants in their own learning. 🤔💡 They'll learn to tackle even the most challenging non-fiction texts with confidence and ease. 💪📖 


Exploring the Research

Classroom Implementation Approaches


A Quick Recap: Phases of Learning

"What and when are equally important when it comes to instruction that has an impact on learning. Approaches that facilitate students' surface-level learning do not work equally well for deep learning, and vice versa. 

Matching the right approach with the appropriate phase of learning is the critical lesson to be learned."

- Hattie, Fisher and Frey (Visible Learning for Mathematics, 2017

Get a guided introduction to Hattie’s work via the TCEA Strategies That Work courses. What’s more, you get powerful videos, a $49 TCEA membership, and CPE hours for the same or less than buying a book. You have fifteen courses to choose from, including the latest Evidence-Based Teaching course.

The TCEA Evidence-Based Teaching course provides a detailed walkthrough of the Amazing Lesson Design Outline (ALDO), including the research underpinnings. It’s the perfect way to introduce your instructional coaches, teachers, and administrators to research that works. Participants earn 12 CPE hours, a digital badge, and certificate upon completion. 

Surface Learning

This phase of learning is characterized by students:

Deep Learning

Deep Learning strategies facilitate students establishing relationships in and among content. Students work to consolidate their understanding, applying and extending surface learning after building requisite knowledge. 

It involves deep processing, or "the ability to understand a new concept in terms of already familiar concepts and already familiar connections between them" 

Here is a list of my favorite Deep Learning Strategies. And, it may very well be that you have already explored these via TCEA TechNotes, as well as TCEA's Online, Self-Paced courses

These are all phenomenal strategies to use when consolidating student knowledge. Some of these strategies include more social actions, such as discussing academic content.

Reciprocal Teaching is one of those strategies focused on students discussing content.

Exploring the Research

What Is It?

"A deep learning, instructional strategy which aims to foster better reading comprehension and to monitor students who struggle with comprehension. The Reciprocal Teaching strategy contains four steps: 

It is “reciprocal” in that students and the teacher take turns leading a dialogue about the text in question, asking questions following each of the four steps. 

The teacher can model the four steps, then reduce her or his involvement so that students take the lead and are invited to go through the four steps after they read a segment of text. (Source: Visible Learning MetaX)

Why do we need it?

If your students face any or all of the following obstacles (adapted from ASCD Publication: Lori D. Oczkus’ Reciprocal Teaching At Work),  reciprocal teaching may be what’s needed.

As a result of reciprocal teaching technique’s effectiveness for over thirty years, it is worth adopting

Does It Work?

Looking for a comprehension technique that works across all content areas, media such as news, books, web, and video? 

Reciprocal teaching, a research-based collection of strategies, has enjoyed long success (approx 36 years since a study* in 1984)

It consistently produces results of .74 growth per year. This effect size, measured by John Hattie’s meta-analyses in Visible Learning, accounts for almost two years growth in one year.

Across type of test (standardized, etc.), regardless of teacher, grade level, Reciprocal Teaching proved effective for all ages and situations. 

*Note: COGNITION AND INSTRUCTION, 1984, I (2) 117-175 Copyright o 1984, LawrenceErlbaum Associates, Inc. 

How Does It Work?

Source: North Central Comprehensive Center Reciprocal Teaching Curriculum Gateway at Watch all their videos online.

Another Take:

Best Practices

When introducing RT to students, the following process can be helpful:

The Reciprocal Teaching Treatment

Want to see dramatic results in your students? Use reciprocal teaching at least three times per week for three months. 

The creators of the Reciprocal Teaching strategy, Ann Palincsar and Ann Brown (1984, 1986) for just 15-20 days, assessment of students’ reading comprehension increase from thirty percent to seventy to eighty percent

All four strategies need to be used in each 15 to 30 minute session to obtain best results.

Reciprocal Teaching Resource Guide

Web-based Reciprocal Teaching Resources

View video (6:18 min:secs) via Studies Weekly

Remote Learning Suggestions

Use Flipgrid to have students model the different roles. Ask different students to play the role of Predictor, Clarifier, Questioner, Summarizer for a shared text, audio, or video.

Model the Fab Four for parents to guide students. Instead of trying to do all four roles, just ask them to take on the role of Predictor or Questioner.

Don't limit yourself, students, or parents to text alone. Use the resources shown right to access non-fiction, fiction.

Amazon Prime Video Free Family Titles: Whether you have Amazon Prime or not, a free Amazon account gets you and your child(ren) access to free family titles

12-Story Learning: Offers their entire ebook collection for free.

ABDO Digital: ABDO's entire eBook collection is now available to students to access at home FREE. 

Actively Learn: This is a digital curriculum platform for grades 6-12 ELA, SS, and Science. Our catalog includes over 3,000 texts, videos, and simulations that include embedded questions, scaffolding notes, and multimedia to support all learners. We also seamlessly integrate with Google Classroom. 

Audible:  Audible Stories is now offering, at no charge, a collection of audio stories. Stories are organized into a variety of categories.

Buncee Learning: Get free access to Buncee Classroom if you are in an affected area. 

Listenwise is a web-based resource for three to six minute podcast lessons from non-fiction storytellers that include listening comprehension quizzes for your classroom. 

Ranger Rick Magazine: Need some exciting reading material? One of my childhood favorites was the Ranger Rick Magazine. They are offering three months of free access to all games, jokes, videos, awesome animal articles. This offer is good through June 30, 2020. Sign up online.

Reciprocal Teaching Activities & Resources


Watch ONE of the following videos: 



Ready to Introduce Reciprocal Teaching?

Get into small groups of five or six people each. Each person assumes one of the following roles:

Content To Practice Reciprocal Teaching On

Explore Reciprocal Teaching in Content Areas

Role Cards for Reciprocal Teaching in Math

Print out the document from NCCC/MCREL to get the Reciprocal Teaching Role Cards for Math. You can use these four strategies, which differ slightly from reading comprehension role cards. The revised roles include the following:

Get the Role Cards for Reciprocal Teaching in Math and share them with students so they can use them while working in a group.