Reciprocal Teaching: Strategies, Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

Reciprocal teaching is an educational strategy for students to attend to the reading material. Learn the definition of reciprocal teaching and its benefits in education through some examples, explore the four strategies students use to explain the reading material to the class, including summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting, and discover how to start applicating those strategies. Updated: 08/28/2021

Definition of Reciprocal Teaching

Have you ever been listening to a teacher read from a book, and instead of paying attention, you are thinking about what you're going to do that afternoon? What about when you had to read aloud in class - did you ever read a page and barely remember what you read at the end? Or maybe you read it and didn't quite understand what you were reading. In any of these cases, the point is that you weren't staying focused, recalling, or grasping certain reading material. And those are all issues that reciprocal teaching is designed to prevent and correct.

Reciprocal teaching is an activity where students talk with their teachers about the substance and meaning of texts they just read. Students are put in a position where they have to stay focused on what they read, so they are able to explain it to the class by using four strategies. While the teacher begins leading these discussions to show how it is done, they slowly reduce involvement so that students take the lead. They are then not only responsible for reading the text, but also for learning and teaching it.

As mentioned earlier, there are four main strategies used by students in reciprocal teaching: summarizing, questioning, clarifying and predicting. Students are instructed to go through each action after they read a segment of text. Let's take a detailed look at each strategy.

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  • 0:00 Definition of…
  • 1:16 The Four Strategies
  • 2:21 The Application
  • 3:07 The Benefits
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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The Four Strategies

1) Summarizing

A great way to help students get to know what they read is through summarizing it. By putting a segment of text into a summary, the student has to weed out the stuff that doesn't matter, identify the points that do, and put them together. Then, they need to explain those points in their own words, allowing students to develop and display their understanding of the material.

2) Questioning

Thinking of questions allows students to identify areas that are confusing, share their needs for clarification, and ask if there are connections with material already read. So, questioning enables the student to think critically and to get their classmates to do the same.

3) Clarifying

Clarifying is answering the posed questions. The clarifier also points out areas the class may see as confusing and clarifies them. Student can also share their own thoughts on how they understand the material, if it will help their classmates.

4) Predicting

When students predict, they are coming up with ideas of what can happen next in the text they just read. It requires that they consider what has already taken place and use their imagination to think ahead. It also connects the student with the thinking and intentions of the author.

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