A Typical Lesson
A typical lesson takes about 20–30 minutes. The children develop an understanding of text through two-way conversations, either between the children or the children and the group leader.
The children need to understand the four reciprocal reading strategies: prediction; clarification; questioning; and summarising before starting formal sessions. You can help them to do this through whole-class teaching by modelling each strategy over time. Give them opportunities to practise these strategies one at a time with a buddy or in small groups. Children who are at the decoding stage of reading will require more support and text appropriate to their reading level.
Once children have had the opportunity to put the strategies into practice, first with support and gradually moving towards more independent working, they can start reciprocal reading in small groups.
The teacher or group leader (sometimes known as The Boss) assigns responsibilities or roles to the group members and starts the lesson. Each lesson should follow a specific structure. Encourage the predictor to predict what will happen in the chosen piece of text. The predictor should use prior knowledge, the structure and content of the text and what they have previously read to make the prediction. The Fischer Family Trust encourages group leaders to activate prior knowledge when introducing a new piece of text to enable children to share their knowledge and experience.
Encourage the children to read a short paragraph of text. Ask them to record anything relevant to their role on a whiteboard. Video: Primary 7 gives an example of this in a Primary 7 classroom in Donaghadee Primary School. Recording notes during reading may be too challenging for less able groups of readers, so encourage them to do this after they have read each small section of text.
After reading the text, invite group members to contribute: first the clarifier, then the questioner and finally the summariser. Video: Role of the Boss (Pupil) in Primary 6 has examples of this.
Please note, children who are competent readers can take on the role of group leader. However, if you are using reciprocal reading as an intervention programme (for example, for children who can decode, but struggle to understand) the class teacher or another suitably trained adult should take on the role of group leader.