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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Reciprocal Teaching

When I was in Teacher's College we learned about a teaching strategy called Reciprocal Teaching.  Last year, when we were analysing our EQAO scores, we read the EQAO support document Summary of Results and Strategies for Teachers which suggested the use of Reciprocal Teaching to help students deepen their understanding when reading. 

This was interesting because last Spring, I went to see John Hattie speak at OISIE (thank you Regan for the invite!)  Hattie presented on the information in his book Visible Learning.  Basically, Hattie conducted a meta-analysis of over 800 of the different teaching strategies, initiatives, and factors we typically believe impact student achievement and ranked them according to their effect size on student achievement.  The results were pretty surprising.  Much of what we do in teaching has little or no impact whatsoever.  However, Reciprocal Teaching was ranked 9th in its effect size.  (To see the slides from his presentation click here; it is pretty powerful stuff!)

I spent the month of September getting to know my students as readers.  Most of October was spent frontloading our Reading Goal - being metacognative readers and matching students with appopriate texts.  Finally, in November, I was ready to create our Literature Cirlces. 

As you know if you've been reading my previous posts, I've been reading Iqbal to my students.  We tried using Today's Meet several times to have some of the students post what they were thinking as we read. This was very valuable because it showed other students what thinking goes on in a person's head while they are listening to and attempting to make sense of an oral text.  But we only did it a few times because my students found it difficult to read the text on the screen and follow along with the story.  We then switched to using an On-line Discussion Forum after the Read Aloud.  This was much more successful.  It allowed the students to see what a person is thinking after hearing the text.  But they still need to know what people are thinking DURING reading, (or in this case listening).

I then introduced my students to the new teaching strategy "Reciprocal Teaching".  I explained why we were doing it, and I also admitted that I had never used this strategy before, that it was an "experiment" and would be new learning for all of us.  I think it is important to include students in why you are doing what you are doing and let them know that their input and feedback is important and necessary.  We practised using the strategy while I read Iqbal aloud.

Reciprocal Teaching is a small group reading strategy.  One student is chosen to be the "leader".  But all group members are responsible for all parts of reciprocal teaching.  It encourages dialogue as opposed to "sharing".  Students ask questions about what they have read, (we use a Q-chart to help come up with "thick" and "thin" questions), they seek clarification for words or selections of the text that they don't understand, they summarize what they have read, and they make meaningful predications.  You can find more about Reciprocal Teaching from the website Reading Rockets.

I put the students into their Literature Circle groups and introduced each group to their novel.  I used Guided Instruction to help them through their first attempt at Reciprocal Teaching.  I am very lucky in that I have an awesome student teacher.  We do a lot of co-teaching, and because I have her, we can each do Guided Instruction simultaneously.

I found a PDF worksheet on the Reading Rockets website that I have adapted for my students.  I think there has to be a written component to help keep the students on track and to make them accountable for their conversation.  I encourage them to use jot notes, the worksheet is more for them than for me.

Here are some samples from my class.  If you click on them, they will appear larger in a new window.
This is one we did together during Guided Reading.

                   This is one another group did on their own during their Literature Circle.

Click here to get a copy of this Word Document that you can edit for your students and a copy of our Q-chart or Questioning Grid.

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