Reciprocal Reading in Practice

Reciprocal Reading

Connecting with the Curriculum

Reciprocal reading develops the key strategies of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising. It also supports the Northern Ireland Curriculum in the following ways.

It helps to develop Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

Developing thinking skills means designing learning so that pupils will think more skilfully than they would otherwise…’ (from the CCEA guidance booklet: Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities for Key Stages 1 and 2)

Reciprocal reading is a structured technique that encourages the children to:

  • think about the meaning of words;
  • discuss why the author used certain language; and 
  • discuss the impact of vocabulary on the reader.

It gives the children opportunities to:

  • develop their questioning techniques;
  • use their own and others’ information to make a decision; and
  • speak to their group with a sense of audience and purpose.

The children can also make a prediction using prior evidence and have opportunities to:

  • discuss the differences between facts and opinions;
  • make links between cause and effect; and
  • justify their opinions, using evidence from the text.

Developing personal capabilities means creating opportunities for pupils to experiment with ideas, take initiative, learn from mistakes, work collaboratively and become more self-directed in their learning.’(from the CCEA guidance booklet: Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities for Key Stages 1 and 2)

The roles in reciprocal reading give the children opportunities to take initiative while working in a group. They can experiment with their ideas as they make predictions about a text. Teachers have reported that children who were reluctant to speak out in class are more willing to participate in group discussions as they feel secure in the structure of a reciprocal reading lesson. Through reciprocal reading children develop routines of turn-taking, giving and responding to feedback as well as respecting the views of others.

It develops Communication Skills in cross-curricular contexts

You can use any appropriate text that is high interest and at instructional level. Choose texts that link with your topic work across the curriculum. This enables the children to discuss, build up and use subject-specific vocabulary. For example, in Donaghadee Primary School Primary 6 pupils explored a short piece of text about Northern Ireland. They explored this as a whole class with each group assigned a different strategy. During the plenary, with teacher support, the children fed back their findings about the text to the whole class.

Children in St Teresa’s Primary School used a short novel The Sword of the Viking King, by Terry Deary, that linked with their Viking topic. In Video: Skill of Summarising in Primary 6 the children were given extracts from this novel, differentiated according to their reading ability. They wrote a short summary of the text while the class teacher worked with a guided reciprocal reading group.

Reciprocal reading gives the children opportunities to develop talking and listening skills such as listening and taking part in discussions and structuring their talk so that others can understand it. It also provides a structured environment where they can communicate their ideas and feelings based on their prior knowledge and what they have read.