Reciprocal Teaching

Teacher Script: Introduction to Reading Strategies
This page is designed to help the teacher introduce reading comprehension strategies associated with Reciprocal Teaching to the students.

Please Note:

Reciprocal Teaching strategies may be used with any story or passage. The lesson plans included in this web site demonstrate how Reciprocal Teaching strategies are used in the classroom and may be used as presented. However, the strategies may be used with any story or passage selected by the teacher.


  1. Distribute KWL sheets. Ask students to complete what they know about good readers and what they want to know about good readers.
  2. Ask for student responses and list on the board what "good readers" do.
  3. Categorize into the five parts: Predicting, Clarifying, Visualizing, Questioning, and Summarizing. Draw a circular diagram on the board which shows these strategies. (See below)
  4. Explain and define each of the five. Explain that they may come in any order, but will be done in order for this lesson.

Introduction to Predicting


Ask the students, "What does it mean to predict?"

Read this paragraph:

The weather forecasters on television look at clouds on the radar and try to predict what the weather will be like today, tomorrow, and a few days ahead. They don t just guess, they find clues that tell them what the weather will be like. They also combine those clues with what they already know to make those predictions.

Just like those weather forecasters, we are going to learn how to predict from the passages that we hear or read. We are going to look and listen for clues and combine them with what we already know to tell us what will happen next, Predicting can help us become better readers and writers. As we read, we can see if our predictions come true.

Ask the students to respond to the following questions:

  1. What do you predict you will see when you visit a pet store?
  2. What kinds of shows do you predict will be on Saturday morning television?
  3. Your friend asks you to go to a movie called "Monsters of the Deep." What do you predict the movie will be about?

Ask: Where can you make predictions in a story?

Suggested responses:

The most important prediction should come as you read the title or a headline. Other predictions may happen when you read chapter headings or subtitles, when the author of the story asks a question, or when a character in a story is about to do something.

Introduction to Clarifying


What happens when you are confused about the information the writer is trying to tell you? (Students respond.)

Sometimes you have to stop reading in order to get a clear picture in your mind about the ideas the writer is tying to get across. Good readers are not always fast readers. Sometimes you have to slow down and even stop to clarify or make clear what you are reading. When watching a video, you can hit the PAUSE button and REWIND if you miss something. If you miss something when reading, you have to hit the PAUSE button, go back, and REREAD until it makes sense.

Does anyone know what the word "clarify" means? (Students respond.)

Ask: What do you do when you come across a word you don't know while you are reading? What do you do when you don t understand what the text is tying to tell you? (Students respond.)

There are four strategies you can use to help you figure out the meanings of words that you don't understand. They are:

  1. Look for little words in big words.
  2. Look for word parts such as bases (roots), prefixes, and suffixes. Be aware of words that are similar to words in another language.
  3. Look for commas that follow unfamiliar words. Sometimes when an author uses a word that maybe unfamiliar to the reader, he/she will follow it with a comma, give the definition, use another comma and then continue on with the sentence. The definition of the word will be between the commas. The definition could follow the word "or," a dash, or be in parentheses.
  4. Keep reading. The word that you are stuck on may not be important to the meaning of the sentence, or as you read you will get a general idea of the meaning even though you can t give a dictionary definition.

Introduction to Questioning: Asking Teacher-like Questions


Why do good readers ask themselves questions about what they have just read? (Students respond.)

Right. After you have predicted and clarified, you should ask good questions about what you have read for at least two reasons. One reason is to test yourself to see if you really understand what you have read. The other reason is to identify what is important to remember in the story or the passage.

Let s talk about what makes a "good" teacher-like question. You have already asked clarifying questions about parts you don t understand. Now you should ask questions to help you understand the larger meanings of the lesson.

Read this passage:

Many years ago, in the days when people lived outdoors or in caves, there were no tame dogs. In fact, all the animals of the world were wild. One of those wild animals was the wolf. Wolves roamed through the fields and forests shy and suspicious of humans. Yet from these wild wolves (and maybe from jackals and foxes too) have come all the different dogs that are pets today.

Ask:What kinds of questions can you think of to test your understanding of this passage? (Students respond.)

Good questions ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. They also ask you to

compare two or more things, tell why something is important, or give the order in which things happen. Good teacher-like questions are based on the information given in the text.

Introduction to Summarizing


Call on a few students to give the title of their favorite television show and one sentence that tells what it is about. Explain that they have just made a summary. Ask: From what you have said, can you come up with a definition for a summary?

Suggested response: To tell the most important ideas in one or two sentences. A good summary does not include details or information that is not important.

Some practice exercises:

Listen to this list of words: German shepherd, poodle, collie

What one word describes this list? (dogs)

Now listen to this list: rabbit, dog, cat, horse, cow

What one word describes this list? (animals)

Here s another list: cars, buses, trains, ships, planes

What one word describes this list? (transportation)

You may have to generate more lists if students still do not get the idea.

Introduction to Visualizing (Make a Picture in Your Mind)


Good readers visualize as they read. Sometimes you must stop and make a mental picture so that you can comprehend what the author is saying. you may even have to draw a diagram or a picture on paper in order to fully understand ideas in a passage.

  1. Pass out Reciprocal Teaching Bookmarks.
  2. Pass out highlighters. For at least the first lesson, students will use them to highlight parts that need clarification. If you don t use highlighters, have the students underline or circle the words with which they are unfamiliar.
  3. Write the title of the lesson on the board. From this title, ask the students what they think this lesson will be about. Give them no more than one or two minutes. Write predictions on overhead or chalkboard or do a "sweep" of the room.
  4. Pass out handouts of the passage. It is important to choose a short passage and copy it on handouts for the first time.
  5. Remind students that they are to highlight, underline, or circle any word or idea they do not understand.
  6. The teacher will model the entire lesson until the students understand the procedure. The strategies may be done in any order, but the teacher should model all the strategies frequently until the students are comfortable with the procedure. After the students know how to use the strategies in Reciprocal Teaching, divide the text into six or seven parts. The teacher will model the first two parts of the text, and then four or five students will be the "teachers" for the remaining parts.