Introduction To Calculus

What Is Reciprocal Teaching? And How To Adopt in Classroom?

27 January 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The regular classroom teaching is now becoming monotonous day-by-day. Children often find the classes uninteresting which often leads to losing interest in their academics altogether. To cater to this problem, there is an interesting way of teaching which is known as reciprocal teaching.

Read to know about reciprocal teaching and know the top strategies to adopt it in your classroom. We have also answered a few frequently asked questions about reciprocal teaching in the end.

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What is Reciprocal Teaching & Why Use It?

Reciprocal teaching is an educational activity to develop the reading abilities of a student. This teaching style develops the comprehension skills of students through effective reading strategies. These strategies collectively encourage the students to construct the meaning of a given theory or text through active listening and conscious participation.

The main purpose of reciprocal teaching is to establish a positive relationship between the students and the teacher. The reading sessions are organized in the form of dialogues where students assume the role of the teacher followed by group discussions and summarizing to clarify all the doubts. As each student participates in the reading, the vocabulary as well as the interest of the students are improved.

Reciprocal teaching should be used to:

  • increase student involvement in the classroom
  • enhance the learning process
  • allow the students to observe the comprehension
  • polish the oratory skills of the students
  • help students predict the meaning of the given text
  • allow them to form their opinions about it
  • empower the students to comprehend the text without any help
  • encourage them to read and understand the complicated text
  • improve the cognitive skills of the students

Reciprocal teaching gradually helps students learn to work in a team and actively participate in group activities. It teaches students to discuss their confusion and sort them through group studies. It also encourages students to hold open discussions about different lessons without a formal setting. These things collectively improve the students’ performance in the classroom and help them be more active.

Downloadable PDF

Here is a PDF that tells about Reciprocal Teaching and why it is important for your future. Click on the download button to know more.

📥 Reciprocal Teaching


How to Use Reciprocal Teaching in a Class?

Reciprocal teaching can be used in a classroom through conscious planning, group activities, and effective implementation of the strategies.

  • To begin with, introduce the students to this teaching style and help them understand your motive.
  • Try asking them to predict what this activity is all about.
  • Encourage them to answer deliberately and actively.
  • Read the first paragraph yourself and be the summarizer, questioner, clarifier, and predictor –all by yourself.
  • Once you are done reading, explain the meaning of the text in easy language and ask questions about it.
  • Help to clarify the meaning of new phrases, words, or concepts.
  • Once all the confusion is sorted, summarize the text to make everything clear.
  • Predict what the next paragraph may be about.
  • Encourage students to predict their side of the story.

Once the activity for the first paragraph is over, seek perspectives of all the students to draw lessons from the first session and understand how you can make it better the next time.

As you do this activity yourself, students find it easier to follow it.

The easiest way of implementing reciprocal teaching in the classroom is in the following way:

  1. Divide the students into a group of four.
  2. Give each student one role viz. predictor, clarifier, summarizer, and questioner.
  3. Have each of them read some part of the designated text.
  4. Encourage the other students to take notes of the important points as one of them reads.
  5. Once the reading is done, ask the summarizer to start the discussion. Encourage him or her to highlight the main points.
  6. Ask the questioner to pose questions about the unclear part, helping him wherever needed.
  7. Hand over the charge to the clarifier, asking him to address the question. Assist the clarifier as he tries explaining himself.
  8. Try to finish the discussion by helping students throughout. Answer all the queries and help them learn to highlight important points and pose questions.
  9. Ask the summarizer to share the summary again.
  10. Invite the predictor to predict the next paragraph to encourage active listening and better engagement in the activity.
  11. Choose another group of four students and restart the activity.

Once students are well-aware of this teaching strategy and are comfortable with it, they find it very interesting and exciting. Reciprocal teaching nurtures the students’ ability to engage with each other and develop their reading skills better.

Effective Strategies for Reciprocal Teaching

There are four main strategies used in reciprocal teaching that improve student engagement and comprehension skills considerably.  Although this teaching style involves the active participation of students to come together and collaboratively understand a given text, the role of the teacher cannot be ruled out.

The teacher must be actively involved before, during, and after the activity. The four strategies for reciprocal teaching are:

  1. Questioning

The questioning strategy involves the teacher to ask questions about the lesson at the beginning of the activity. Once the students are all involved in answering and predicting what the chapter is all about, the main activity begins.
Questioning encourages the readers to monitor their understanding of the text by questioning themselves. It promotes students to identify the information and assess their comprehension by asking questions. Thus, questioning helps the students listen and read more carefully. It also allows them to understand the text more deeply.

During the activity, the questioner asks questions about the:

  • Difficult or unclear part of the text
  • Hidden or puzzling information
  • Connection of the text with the concepts learned in the previous class
  1. Clarifying

Clarifying encourages the students to analyze the information they just received and decode the meaning of the text. It helps students pay deeper attention to new words and concentrate better. Clarifications may be done about an unclear sentence, unknown word, awkward concept, etc.
It also helps students find hidden information. Through clarification, students learn to interpret the meaning by rereading and applying prior knowledge and external resources.

During the activity, the clarifier answers the questions asked by the questioner.

  1. Summarizing

Once all the information in the text is understood, summarizing helps in highlighting the main points to memorize the concept. It also helps the students improve their attention span, memory power, and organize their knowledge. By identifying crucial information, students learn to develop a better understanding of their concepts and take notes.

During the activity, the summarizer expresses his understanding of the topic/concept in simpler language, highlighting the main points.

  1. Predicting

Predicting makes reciprocal teaching more fun and engaging. It helps the students actively participate and imagine what may happen further. Predicting allows the students to predict what they might learn next and have better concentration in the class.

During the activity, the predictor offers predictions about the upcoming events in the story. Predictions may not be accurate most of the time, but it improves the students' ability to imagine, express their thoughts, and be clear.

  1. The Bottom Line

Reciprocal teaching is one of the most interesting and the best teaching strategies to improve reading skills, participation, and engagement of the students. This is an effective technique to increase positivity in a classroom and help foster the child’s mental development and social skills at a young age. The best thing about reciprocal teaching is that it is not just limited to literature. It can be used with almost all types of text - fictional, non-fictional, scientific, etc.


Learning and analyzing a student's weaknesses and strengths are one of the most important traits a good teacher should possess. It makes the pedagogy even more efficient by enabling the student to learn faster and in an effective manner. 

Questioning builds the interest of the students in their studies and makes concepts even more interesting, which is even enhanced once the concepts are clarified more and more until they are crystal clear. Questioning also helps the teacher identify the points where the student is facing difficulty. 

In a nutshell, reciprocal teaching is now becoming increasingly inportant as it helps in development of the brain of the child from an early stage. This is one of the most important things that the parents and teachers must realize.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What makes reciprocal teaching effective?

The continuous efforts made by a teacher to make the activity more interesting, the right selection of student groups and the text, and constant support to help the average and below-average students make reciprocal teaching more effective.

What are the most effective reciprocal teaching strategies?

Reciprocal teaching can be done using four major strategies which are collectively also known as the “Fab Four” teaching pedagogies. These are:

  • Summarizing
  • Questioning
  • Clarifying
  • Predicting

How can I make reciprocal teaching more fun for students?

To engage the students better and reap the maximum benefits of reciprocal learning, here are some steps that you can take:

  • start the reading activity with the student possessing higher reading skills to encourage students with lower reading skills
  • pair each group accordingly
  • choose the responsibilities carefully
  • help the students with low confidence feel valued and supported
  • encourage inactive students to be the summarizer to arouse their interest

Are there any specific criteria to select text selection for reciprocal teaching?

The text selection for responsive teaching is easy and doesn't require any specific criteria. The text must be new for the students so that they can carefully read, listen, analyze, and predict it. This can be done for almost all concepts and subjects.

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