Reciprocal teaching

Reciprocal teaching is a structured strategy to help make students aware of some of the comprehension skills used to make meaning.

Awareness of some of the comprehension skills used during reading can help students to monitor their own comprehension and identify when it breaks down.

Reciprocal teaching involves reading, thinking and talking. It is based on four major comprehension skills – predicting, summarising, questioning and clarifying. Each of these skills is modelled by the teacher. Students are given the opportunity to practise using each skill prior to running a reciprocal reading group.

Students work in groups of four students, with each group member bearing responsibility for one of the comprehension skills. Students take on one of the four roles:

  • Predictor
  • Summariser
  • Clarifier
  • Questioner

Students read the text (or assigned section of a text) before coming to the book discussion. They annotate the text, and mark the text using sticky notes in preparation for the discussion.

The summariser

The summariser:

  • often begins the discussion by offering a summary of the main ideas of the text
  • can ask the other group members if the summary was accurate and if they agree with the points made
  • can explain why some points were important but not included in the summary
  • uses the language of recall and focuses on past tense.

The predictor

The predictor:

  • shares the predictions made across the text and discusses if these predictions were confirmed or denied
  • encourages the other group members to add their comments about the predictions
  • is involved in prediction and analysis when explaining the accuracy of predictions.

The clarifier

The clarifier:

  • identifies where and why meaning broke down in the reading of the text
  • identifying difficult or interesting vocabulary
  • unusual grammatical structures
  • challenging dialogue etc.

The questioner

The questioner:

  • highlights how good readers ask questions of themselves, as they read a text
  • shares some of the questions they asked and presents the group with ‘thick’ questions to help deepen their thinking (a thick question is a question that involves an extended answer).


Reciprocal teaching is a strategy which:

  • uses extended talk in a purposeful context
  • uses talk to help students deepen their understanding of a text
  • uses talk to make four comprehension skills explicit
  • uses talk to develop knowledge
  • involves text annotation (note taking, quick writes, questioning).

Read more information about reciprocal teaching and see in practice examples.


Oczuks, L. (2003). Reciprocal teaching at work: Strategies for improving reading comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association

Palinscar, A.S. (2013). Reciprocal Teaching. In J. Hattie and E.M. Anderson (Eds.), International Guide to Student Achievement. (pp. 369-371). Taylor and Francis.​