Merry Bee on Literacy - Instruction
Instructional Techniques -
Reciprocal Teaching
06/29/07 Additional techniques and other literacy topics at

Reading Strategies is a label commonly used to refer to both the strategies used by students to get meaning from text and the strategies used by teachers to structure and deliver instruction. Merry Bee uses the label ‘instructional techniques’ for those instructional strategies the teacher uses and ‘reading strategies’ for those strategies the student uses in reading. Instructional techniques include:
across the curriculum
guided reading

Reciprocal Teaching


Developed by Annemarie Palincsar, 1984
Use with small group (preferred), whole class
Use before, during, or after reading
Use 1-12; adapt for age appropriateness with elementary students


Reciprocal teaching develops the ability of students to use four comprehension strategies - predicting, summarizing, clarifying, and questioning. The four strategies can be taught in any order. The teacher begins with direct explicit instruction, uses modeling and demonstration, and provides guided practice. The activity is “reciprocal” in that students take the lead as they become more proficient in using these strategies. Thus the teacher role is flexible, shifting between instructor and facilitator as leadership shifts back and forth between the teacher and the student. It is important that the text used for reciprocal teaching be decodable by the student. It is desirable to apply the reciprocal teaching technique with a variety of genre.
The strategies developed in reciprocal teaching are defined as:
Predict - Hypothesize using the information given in the text.
Summarize - Identify and condense the most important points in the text.
Clarify - Identify what makes a given text difficult and seek an understanding of difficult vocabulary, usage elements, or concepts.
Question - Generate appropriate and important questions about the text.
Reciprocal teaching is related to discussions of learning dialogues, expert scaffolding, and collaborative learning in the professional literature.
This technique is particularly pertinent to developing comprehension in reading, but the student should internalize the use of other comprehension strategies as well.

Links to resources:

1. An overview by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) includes the purpose and research base for reciprocal teaching. < >

2. The article Reciprocal Teaching defines reciprocal teaching and describes how to implement the technique in the classroom. < >

3. Reciprocal teaching is explained in a Q&A format prepared as a Theory into Practice (TIP) Monograph by a cadre of California teachers in 1995. < >

4. Heather Wall describes a method for reciprocal teaching using cards to provide a structure for the discussion leader at < >
Click "instructional methods and approaches" to see the reciprocal teaching button. grades 3-5

5. In this project developed for primary grade teachers, Laura Lewis Richards examines the literature about the use and benefits of reciprocal teaching and outlines a one-hour inservice to enable teachers to implement reciprocal teaching. Reciprocal Teaching in the Primary Grades PDF file at < >

6. The M-DCPS Reciprocal Teaching model (Miami-Dade County Public Schools) adds a fifth strategy "visualizing". The site has sample lesson plans, printable materials, and a review of reciprocal teaching in the professional literature. < >

Two text series that use reciprocal teaching are:
Houghton Mifflin's Soar to Success intervention program, grades 3-8.
Macmillan/McGraw-Hill’s Spotlight on Literacy

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