Reciprocal Teaching

Fab Four

UDL 3.2

Reciprocal Teaching is a student-led discussion strategy where students in small groups are assigned roles related to a comprehension strategy (i.e., summarizer, questioner, clarifier, and predictor). Students take turns assuming the role of teacher in order to guide the group’s discussion in an organized and comprehensive manner. Before Reciprocal Teaching takes place, a teacher predetermines what text groups will analyze and what initial roles students will be in charge of leading. After the group reads a few paragraphs of an assigned text, students take turns leading and deepening the conversation based on their assigned roles. After, the roles then switch to analyze a new section of the text. This process continues until each student has the chance to lead each comprehension strategy.

Implementation Tips

Supporting Group Work
Support group work by providing [[ | task cards ]] or [[ | bookmarks with comprehension strategy prompts ]] for students to reference and use when working in small groups. Make sure to read and explain these tools extensively before allowing students to use them independently.
Setting Expectations
Set expectations for positive student interactions by pre-teaching group etiquette to the class before having students participate in Reciprocal Teaching. Use a chart similar to [[ | this example ]] to help set some ground rules (e.g. "Everyone is sitting up or leaning in", "Once voice is speaking at a time").
Introducing Reciprocal Teaching
Introduce the process by explaining that students will collaboratively enhance their reading abilities by becoming one another’s teachers. Spark student interest by presenting this [[ | brief video clip ]] to introduce the “teacher roles.” After, explain each step with more detail and reiterate class-wide expectations.
Forming Cohesive Groups
Form Reciprocal Teaching groups by making sure that the texts provided are accessible to all students within each group (i.e., create groups based on students’ instructional reading abilities), to ensure that students will remain actively engaged in the task with minimal barriers.
Holding Students Accountable
Support student learning by requiring groups to keep track of their discussion points (e.g. predictions, questions, clarifying ideas, summaries). Students can be provided with [[ | a large piece of chart paper ]] or a small graphic organizer like this [[ | printable ]] to maintain a record of their group work.
Differentiating Group Work
Differentiate the group assignment to best fit student needs by allowing students to articulate questions and answers while another student acts as a recorder, or allowing students to sketch ideas. If available, students can also record their discussion points using an electronic device instead.
Building Routines
Use Reciprocal Teaching frequently over the course of each reading unit to provide students with opportunities to strengthen reading comprehension skills simultaneously instead of in isolation. Keep students invested by varying texts (e.g., articles, chapter books) and genres (e.g., nonfiction, mystery, social studies).


Engaging in Nonfiction Texts
During a Social Studies unit on landforms, a teacher assigns a nonfiction text for students to analyze using Reciprocal Teaching. The teacher supplies groups with a graphic organizer to record discussion points (i.e., includes an area for prior knowledge, predictions, questions, clarification notes, and a summary). After reading the first chapter on oceans, students make sure their group addresses the comprehension strategy they are responsible for leading by taking turns assuming the role of teacher. The group [[ | records their ideas ]], then students switch roles in order to prepare for the next chapter on canyons. This process continues until each student has lead all four comprehension strategies.
Pairing Reciprocal Teaching with Book Clubs
Instead of traditional book reports, a teacher decides to have students share information about an independent reading assignment in small groups. In order to provide structure and a framework for the group meetings, the teacher introduces the Reciprocal Teaching strategy. The teacher explains how each student will have the opportunity to “be the teacher” when groups gather and that all comprehension strategy roles will switch each time the group meets to discuss their chapter book. As the group applies the strategy, students begin to activate deeper level thinking skills and grow conversations related to the text using their task cards for support.

Related Strategies