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.
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.
The Four Strategies
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first few times reciprocal teaching is used, teachers make sure to explain and illustrate each of these strategies. They will read a segment of material aloud or with the assistance of the students and then lead the group through each strategy - how they would summarize it, what questions they have, how to clarify this or that section, and what they think may happen next.
Once they get used to the flow, students are later given the chance to lead and discuss on their own. In this case, the teacher might put students into small groups and assign each student a different strategy. After reading a few paragraphs of text, one student summarizes, the other questions, another clarifies, and the last predicts. Afterward, the students take turns with each role for every new section of the text that is read.
Reciprocal teaching gets students involved in the teaching role. It gets them far more engaged in class than they might be when the teacher is only lecturing on read material. It helps students remain focused, think critically, and dig deep into the texts. It also helps them consider how best to represent and explain material to the class. In reciprocal teaching, students take charge and inevitably become more invested in their classwork.
Reciprocal teaching is a classroom activity in which the teacher and the students have a dialogue about the meaning of a text. At first, the teacher leads the students in the discussion and introduces the four main strategies: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. The students then each take a role or strategy and take turns leading the class in the discussion. This activity helps students to focus on the material, dig deep into the texts, and become more invested in their work.
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