Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Reciprocal Teaching

Paliscsar, A. S., & Brown, A. L. (1986). Interactive teaching to promote independent learning from text. The Reading Teacher, 39(8), 771-777.

Web site:


Reciprocal Teaching is a strategy in which an adult and students take turns assuming the role of "teacher." Four components are used to help students improve reading comprehension. The first is summarizing, which develops the children's ability to make connections between the ideas presented in the text. The second is questioning, which encourages them to identify key ideas and connect them to their prior knowledge. The third is clarifying, which challenges the readers to recognize parts that are confusing, such as decoding, vocabulary, unfamiliar references, and other parts of the passage that may be unclear. Finally, predicting gives them a chance to speculate about what is coming next in the text. It is strongly suggested that groups for Reciprocal Teaching are no more than five students and that the teacher first models each of these components before engaging in the activity.


  1. The reading selection is broken into enough sections so each student has the opportunity to play teacher.
  2. The student who is "teacher" reads the first part of the material aloud to the group. (It also may be read chorally.)
  3. After the passage is read, the "teacher" summarizes the material.
  4. The group members are invited to add to the summary. This discussion is led by the "teacher," who gives clues such as asking for important items outlined in the passage, the topic sentence, and similar things.
  5. Questions that identify important facts and information are asked by the "teacher," and the group answers them.
  6. The "teacher" clarifies by reviewing with the group any unfamiliar vocabulary or confusing parts in the passage. Working together, any misunderstandings are cleared up.
  7. The "teacher" asks the group for predictions about what might happen in the next segment of the text.
  8. The group is now ready for the next section of the assigned reading. A different student is chosen to be the "teacher," and the process starts over again.

Note: This strategy can also be used in a whole-group setting, but not as effectively as in small groups.


The Web site noted above contains an example of Reciprocal Teaching using The Witch From Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.


Copyright © 2012 Learning Point Associates. All rights reserved.