Reciprocal Teaching: A Reading Comprehension Package

The intervention package teaches students to use reading comprehension strategies independently, including text prediction, summarization,question generation, and clarification of unknown or unclear content.

For effective-teaching tips to use when introducing this strategy, consult the guidelines presented

introducing Academic Strategies to Students: A Direct-Instruction Approach.


Overhead transparencies of practice reading passages, transparency markers

  • Student copies of Be a Careful Reader!: Four Strategies to Better Understand What You Are Reading, Reciprocal Teaching Strategies Worksheet (see attachments at the bottom of this page), and practice reading passages (optional) or reading/text books.


Prepare overheads of sample passages.

Step 1: Set aside at least four successive instructional days to introduce students to each of the following comprehension strategies:

  • Day 1: Prediction,
  • Day 2: Summarization ("list main ideas"),
  • Day 3: Question Generation,
  • Day 4: Clarifying.

As you introduce each strategy, "think aloud" as you apply the technique to a sample passage, write down responses on the Reciprocal Teaching Strategies Worksheet, and check for student understanding of key concepts. (NOTE: See the student handout, Be a Careful Reader!: Four Strategies to Better Understand What You Are Reading (see attachment at the bottom of this page), for a review of the core concepts of Reciprocal Teaching.)

Step 2:  After students have been introduced to the key strategies, the group is now ready to apply all four strategies from the Reciprocal Teaching package to a sample reading passage. For each strategy (prediction, summarization, question generation, clarifying), briefly review the technique. Then randomly select a student "instructor" to guide the group to apply the strategy and complete the relevant section of the Reciprocal Teaching Strategies Worksheet. (Be prepared to offer assistance to the student "instructor" as needed.) Give specific praise to students for appropriately using comprehension strategies.

Step 3:  As the group shows an increased mastery of the strategies, assign students to read text segments silently. Then take the students as a group through the four strategies, calling on different students to discuss how they applied the strategies to the passage.

Step 4: Give students copies of the Reciprocal Teaching Strategies Worksheet and instruct them to read a passage silently without interruption. Prior to their starting, remind students to take time occasionally during reading to make predictions about the text, note main ideas, formulate key questions, and clarify unclear material.

Jim's Hints

Let students select Reciprocal Teaching passages. Allow the group to vote for a preferred passage from among several possible choices. Choice often increases student motivation and investment.

Start a 'Reciprocal Teaching' Tutoring Program. Once students become proficient in using the Reciprocal Teaching package, consider assigning them as peer tutors to train other students to use Reciprocal Teaching strategies.