How the Reader Can Become the Teacher | 123Read&Write

A way for a student to become an actively engaged reader, thereby taking charge of their own reading progress, is by utilizing the Reciprocal Teaching Method. Keep in mind, however, that this technique works better for those who have a decent level of comprehension skill. If these skills are lacking, some comprehension practice may be required. Within the Reciprocal Teaching Method there are a few key components: prediction, clarification, questioning, and summarizing.


For a child to be able to properly utilize this component, he or she must have some background knowledge to begin with regarding the story's content. Predictions allow the child to guess what may happen in the text before it actually occurs. By making predictions, the child has actually given the reading process a purpose. They will want to find out if they're correct. 


The clarifying component asks the child to be cognizant of what they are reading to verify that the content makes sense. In this stage, it's imperative that the child looks for text clues if they become confused, re-reads passages if needed, and utilizes pictures (if applicable) to make sense of what they're reading. 


The questioning level of the Reciprocal Teaching Method can be a tricky one. It requires the child to be an active participant in what they're reading and to question what is occuring in the text. Why did the character act this way? What does the main setting offer the story line? What theme is the author trying to convey? To be proficient at this level, a child must question before, during, and after they have read the text. Four types of questions a child may engage in during the reading process include the following:

  1. Right There Questions (Who is the main character?)
  2. Think and Search (What is the difference between . . . ?)
  3. Author and Me (What was the purpose of . . .?)
  4. On My Own (I wonder how . . .?)


In this step, the child should be able to pick out the key components of the story. He or she needs to be able to decipher between what's truly important and what is extraneous information. For example, in The Giver, by Lois Lowry, it's not important that Jonas and Asher are playing catch with an apple. What is important is that Jonas sees the apple change color (indicating that Jonas has a special gift). Therefore, one of the main ideas for summarizing is not the act of playing catch; but of Jonas seeing the apple turn from gray to red. Summarizing is the child offering the most important ideas in a story in sequential order, which create the foundation for the story's main idea.