Reciprocal teaching is an intervention developed by Palincsar and Brown (1984) that incorporates cognitive and metacognitive instruction in reading comprehension. Reciprocal Teaching involves teaching learners by guided practice, focusing on improving their reading comprehension through a combination of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising, (Palinscar & Brown, 1984). Mitchell (2008) describes reciprocal teaching as a strategy based on the principle that cognitive development is strongly influenced by interactions with more knowledgeable people.
Palincsar (1986), promote the concept of reciprocal teaching, as a technique to help teachers bridge the gap for students who demonstrated a discrepancy between decoding skills and comprehension skills,
Reciprocal teaching is strategy for teaching reading comprehension through usually mixed ability groups, yet each student is able to read at the same text level. Together with the guidance of the teacher, students make their way through the passage’ by predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarizing what is in the text.’ (Mitchell, 2008). There is continual dialogue between students and the teacher, through this scaffolding process, the teacher’s role will diminish as learners take over the leading role. The goal of reciprocal teaching is to increase the comprehension skills of those who can already decode text, but who may have difficulty understanding it.
Reading comprehension today places emphasis on the coordinated use of various strategies. Students learn to engage with texts strategically through a process of teacher modelling, teacher scaffolding and support and gradual independent use to strategies to comprehend the text better, (Grabe, 2004). There are many approaches that are commonly referenced as effective strategies that improves reading comprehension, one of those is reciprocal teaching. In a classroom context the ideal would be not to use reciprocal teaching in isolation rather adapt the learning to use reciprocal teaching as a supporting strategy, as it presents a more open framework for instruction in which multiple types of tasks and activities are included.
History/background (2000-2500 words)
‘ With reference to relevant and appropriate literature, discuss in detail the background/history of this practice the purpose or intent of this practice and the research/theory/ways of knowing which underpin this practice.
‘ Describe in detail how the practice reflects, aligns with or challenges the key documents and strategies relevant to this practice.
The ability to predict is an important strategy that teachers endeavour to nurture when teaching students how to read. The definition of defines prediction as ‘Say or estimate that (a specified thing) will happen in the future or will be a consequence of something In Particular this helps students to focus on what they are reading whilst also a better understanding of the given text.
Within the concept of reciprocal teaching there are two functions of prediction. One, it invites individuals to reflect and initiate discussion, based entirely on their prior knowledge and experiences, i.e. what they know already, what they have seen happen before. And Two, Now that students have a purpose, prediction gives individuals a reason to read the text until the end, effectively a reason to find out whether their prediction was correct or not.
Similarly the definition of the term ‘reciprocal’ describes the nature of the interactions, i.e ‘Given, felt, or done in return’, in reciprocal teaching effectively each student acts in response to the others.
In a New Zealand context Ako describes this teaching and learning relationship, where the teacher also learns from the student. Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and also recognises that the learner and wh??nau cannot be separated, (Ka Hikatia, 2008, p.20). Ako is a reciprocal learning relationship where teachers are not expected to know everything, in particular, Ako suggests that each member of the classroom or learning setting brings knowledge with them from which all are able to learn, (Keown, Parker, and Tiakiwai, 2005, p.12)
In te ao M??ori, the concept of ako recognises the knowledge that both teachers and students bring to learning interactions, acknowledging the growth of knowledge and understandings stemming from these shared learning experiences. Alton-Lee, (2003), a concept supported by educational research which shows that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves. This principle of Ako encourages the value of these reciprocal pair and group learning settings, where students are able to interact with their peers, teachers and resources.
This tuakana’teina approach, whilst an integral part of traditional M??ori society, also provides a reciprocal model, where an older or more expert tuakana (brother, sister or cousin) helps and guides a younger or less expert teina (originally a younger sibling or cousin of the same gender). Embracing this principle of Ako encourages teachers to develop caring and inclusive learning environments where each person feels valued and that they are able to participate to their full potential. This is not about people simply getting along socially; it is about building productive relationships, between teacher and students and among students, where everyone is empowered to learn with and from each other.
Dialogue takes place between a teacher and students, where the teacher initially models and explains before passing the responsibility onto the learners as they become more competent. According to Mitchell (2008) this type of guided practice stems from Vygotsky’s theory of the ‘Zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). Vygotsky’s theory of ZPD is critical to identifying appropriate text and scaffolding activities to support student success (Vygotsky, 1978, as cited in Galloway, 2001).
The intention of this guided practice, influenced primarily by the work of Vygotsky and his concept of a ‘zone of proximal development,’ which he characterized as ‘the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers’ (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). The initial guidance provided to the learner is an example of scaffolding, in that transitory and applicable support is provided, based purely on the needs of the students. A view shared by Sawyer, (2009) who suggests that scaffolding is the tailored support given during the learning process with the intention of helping the student achieve his/her learning goals. Eventually the assistance is withdrawn when it is no longer needed. Effectively a sequence of teacher modelling, coaching, and then fading provides an excellent example of the structure of a cognitive processing, Collins, Brown, and Newman (1989).
Extending on this concept further, Holton and Clarke, (2006) highlight a concept of Reciprocal scaffolding, as a method that involves a group of two or more collaboratively working together to learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge. The scaffolding is shared by each member and changes constantly as the group works on a task (Holton and Clarke, 2006), reinforcing Vygotsky, (Vygotsky, 1978, as cited in Galloway, 2001who theorises that students develop higher-level thinking skills when scaffolding occurs with an adult expert or with a peer of higher capabilities. Conversely, Piaget believes that students discard their ideas when paired with an adult or student of more expertise (Piaget, 1928). Instead, students should be paired with others who have different perspectives to themselves, as then any difference in view would allow them to think constructively at a higher level.
Bruer (1993) suggests that Reciprocal Teaching helps struggling readers learn and internalize the strategies many skilled readers already exhibit and allows struggling students the opportunity to develop the skills needed to comprehend and learn. A view shared by Pearson and Doyle (1987), who suggest that Reciprocal Teaching heralded an effective strategy in helping students improve their reading ability.
Similar research by Oczkus ,(2003) Suggest that reciprocal teaching shows that for students with reading or learning disabilities, reciprocal teaching strategies have been able to help increase reading ages, A conclusion from this study suggests that this is possibly due to the strengths of the skilled readers who help less able students understand and think about concepts from the text more deeply. Similarly this method of learning also allows less able students to feel a sense of responsibility and ownership in their reciprocal teaching groups, which in turn helps them gain confidence and make progress in reading comprehension, (Oczkus, 2003).
Additionally Palisnscar & Brown’s (1984) suggest that reciprocal teaching results in greater gains and maintenance over time than typical classroom practice. A view supported by Le Fevre, Moore & Wilkinson, (2003) who investigated the efficacy of a reciprocal teaching programme, which highlighted that students with poor decoding and comprehension skills improved their use of cognitive strategies and their comprehension through reciprocal teaching.
To further determine the validity of Reciprocal teaching, Palinscar (1986), trialled the technique in a variety of ways, one-to-one, small-group sessions facilitated by trained reading specialists, small-group sessions taught by general classroom teachers with no specialized training, whole-group instruction in the technique by teachers with no specialized training, and small-group sessions led by students The interesting results across all groups was that, student comprehension improved, even in the groups facilitated by students.
Research supported by Yang (2010) who indicates that there may be benefits for teachers in encouraging students to interact with others in order to clarify and discuss comprehension questions and constantly monitor and regulate their own reading.
A further study by Alfassi, Weiss, & Lifshitz, (2008) explored the implementation of reciprocal teaching to students diagnosed with mild to moderate forms of disability. The study based on Palincsar’s 1986 study focused on reciprocal teaching for students who exhibited specific learning difficulties and were considered academically too low for the complex skills of reading comprehension. At the completion of the study it was found that, reciprocal teaching produced a greater success rate in improving the literacy skills in the participants with mild to moderate learning disabilities than that of their control group, highlighting the success of reciprocal teaching where these students are taught in an interactive environment that includes meaningful and connected texts.
Reciprocal teaching is a consolidation of reading strategies that effective readers are thought to use. Pilonieta & Medina, (2009), suggest that these proficient readers use specific comprehension strategies in their reading tasks, while poorer readers do not. Proficient readers have well developed decoding and comprehension skills which allow them to proceed through texts automatically until some sort of triggering event alerts them to a comprehension failure (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).
This trigger can appear in any setting and can be anything from unknown concepts or to an expectation that has not been fulfilled by reading through the text. Regardless of the occurrence, proficient readers are able to react to a comprehension breakdown by using a number of learned strategies in a considered manner. These may range from slowing down the rate of reading or decoding, to re-reading and consciously summarizing the material. Once any strategy has been worked through and restored meaning in the text, the successful reader is able to proceed again without conscious use of the strategy, (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).
All readers, no matter how accomplished reach cognitive failure when reading texts that are challenging, or unfamiliar (Garner, 1992). However poorer readers do not have these same cognitive abilities to demonstrate the same response when comprehension failure occurs. These learner simply do not recognize the triggers of a comprehension breakdown, whilst others may be aware that they do not understand the text, but do not have or are unable to employ strategies that help, (Garner, 1992). In New Zealand classrooms these students are seen as the disruptive, off task lazy students who use maladaptive strategies, such as avoidance that limits their ability to comprehend.
Mayer, (1996) suggests in his paper on Learning Strategies that reciprocal teaching helps struggling learners to become more competent at utilizing learning strategies and furthering their understanding of a subject. In particular Mayer notes that reciprocal teaching gives the students the chance to learn more by having the teachers as role models, a view similar to the Tuakana-Teina approach, where reciprocal teaching allows struggling learners a chance to learn from the experts by taking turns leading the class (Mayer, 1996).
Research by Palisnscar & Brown’s (1984) indicates that reciprocal teaching results in greater gains and maintenance over time than typical classroom practice. A view supported by Le Fevre, Moore & Wilkinson, (2003) who investigated the efficacy of a reciprocal teaching programme, which highlighted that students with poor decoding and comprehension skills improved their use of cognitive strategies and comprehension.
Whilst reciprocal teaching is a very high-yield strategy, it should not be seen as a comprehensive literacy or learning programme, rather it should be an integrated component of a broader teaching and learning programme. The potential of reciprocal teaching to strengthen peer learning and learning-to-learn skills should not be overlooked either and may be particularly effective when used at the start of the school year.
A view shared by Hatie, (2009) who investigated the impact of reciprocal teaching on reading comprehension across 38 studies in two meta analyses.where he ranked reciprocal teaching the third highest-impact strategy out of 49 teaching strategies that he examined. However whilst Hattie, (2009) suggests that teachers can learn how to use reciprocal teaching in a short period of time, there is concern that if poorly implemented the validity of process is questionable. To ensure the validity of reciprocal practices it is essential that continued professional learning and support is important.
Reciprocal teaching builds student capability in all five of the key competencies, as outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum, (Ministry of Education, 2007) document, thinking; using language, symbols, and texts; managing self; relating to others; and participating and contributing. With this in mind reciprocal teaching can be easily integrated into most learning areas. Similarly these principals are also applicable with struggling Maori students as this process of reciprocal teaching aligns well with the principles of T??taiako. The competencies are about knowing, respecting, and working with M??ori learners and their wh??nau, acknowledging their views, aspirations, and knowledge, providing opportunities for mana tangata (development of self-esteem through contributing), mana motuhake (development of independence and autonomy), and mana reo (development of communication), (Ministry of Education, 2011).
Aligned with T??taiako, a major shift in assessment over recent years has been the focus of interactions between assessment and classroom learning moving away from concentrating on straight academic knowledge that is loosely linked to the learning experiences of the students. When assessment information is used appropriately, the impact on student achievement can be significant (Absolum, 2006; Ministry of Education, 2006; Timperly & Parr, 2004). When used inappropriately, it can be detrimental to student achievement (Gambrell, Morrow & Presley, 2007; Timperley, 2003).
Assessment is a social process that involves gathering, analysing and using relevant and valid information about the learner (Ministry of Education, 2003). Assessment becomes formative when teaching is actually adapted to meet the needs of the students as a result of the information gained from the assessment (Black & Wiliam, 2006.)
During the reciprocal teaching process formative assessment is preferred, when finding the best strategies that help young people learn, by developing in them the ability to monitor their own learning and understanding why, how and what they are learning. This is an important in that they become motivated and exploratory in their thinking rather than encouraging superficial and rote learned recall of isolated details.
In order to identify students’ current levels of achievement, and determine the appropriate reading levels and peer group, teachers need to gather information from a range of sources over a period of time (Cain & Oakhill, 2006; Ministry of Education, 2011; 2003, 2007; Pearson & Hamm, 2005; Spear-Swirling,2004). No one assessment provides a broad enough and accurate enough picture of a student’s achievement (Clay, 2005). Teachers need to be aware of each assessment’s strengths and weaknesses (Cain & Oakhill, 2006). Clay emphasises the need to undertake a variety of assessments:
Running records are the most commonly used assessment technique for children in their early years in New Zealand schools, and are widely used throughout the world (Blaiklock, 2004; Ministry of Education, 2011; Fawson, Ludlow, Reutzel, Sudweeks, & Smith, 2006). For those older students that need assessment common assessment tools such as Prose Reading Observation, Behaviour and Evaluation, (PROBE), where Reading accuracy, reading behaviour and reading comprehension are tested or PM Benchmarks, where assessment is used for the purpose of oral retelling, oral reading for miscue analysis and comprehension to ascertain the student’s level of understanding and to assess student reading accuracy, fluency, behaviour and comprehension using unseen texts.
As highlighted Reciprocal teaching offers a dynamic approach for enhancing literacy in all key competency areas. These include foundation skills that allow students to become empowered and self-managing learners as individuals and also as group members. Additionally this approach has the potential to allow struggling students to become active class members, whilst potentially attributes such as resiliency, leadership and co-operation are developed in this learning process.
Implementation (1000 words)
‘ Describe the implementation process of this practice including how it works in action, the people involved and their various roles along with training or additional educational support needed, the goals that are to be achieved and how these are measured.
‘ What are the strengths and limitations of this practice?
The first part of this section explores the implementation process of reciprocal teaching within a small group setting.
How do we introduce these strategies to the students? During the initial stages, scaffolding occurs and the teacher assumes responsibility for leading the dialogues and implementing the strategies. During this guided practice the teacher supports students by adjusting the demands of the task based on each student’s level of expertise and eventually the students learn to carry out this task with little or no teacher assistance. Eventually the teacher assumes the role of a coach/facilitator by providing students with formative feedback regarding their performance and prompting them to higher levels of participation. Goal setting is achieved through pre- and post-intervention assessments, as a discrepancy between these is very relevant to establishing learning needs. Specifically students with weak decoding skills or English language comprehension, where individualised testing identifies both decoding and comprehension deficiencies.
How is Reciprocal Teaching used in a lesson?
Initially the teacher needs to model what is expected, teaching the students the appropriate questioning, summarising and predicting skills. With the main emphasis being on a co-operative effort, where the learner takes increased responsibility until they become self-managing learners. As the students become more competent expectations are increased.
1. Play activator game, Snap! Or Memory. Or similar games to establish that children understand the vocab.
2. Distribute one role / bookmark card to each member of the group identifying each person’s unique role.
3. Have students read a few paragraphs of the assigned text.
4. Encourage them to use note-taking strategies such as selective underlining or sticky-notes to help them better prepare for their role in the discussion.
5. At the given stopping point, the Summarizer will highlight the key ideas up to this point in the reading.
6. The Questioner will then pose questions about the selection:
o unclear parts
o puzzling information
o connections to other concepts already learned
o motivations of the agents or actors or characters
o The questioner generates questions to which the group responds, if needed any additional questions are raised by other members of the group. The summariser then recaps the text and asks other members if they would like to elaborate upon or revise the summary. Clarifications are discussed. Then, in preparation for moving on to the next portion of text, the group generates predictions.
7. The Clarifier will address confusing parts and attempt to answer the questions that were just posed.
8. The Predictor can offer guesses about what the author will tell the group next or, if it’s a literary selection, the predictor might suggest what the next events in the story will be.
9. The roles in the group then switch one person to the right, and the next selection is read. Students repeat the process using their new roles. This continues until the entire selection is read.
These four strategies are not goals in themselves, but are taught in a classroom context in which reading comprehension skills are necessary.
Predicting involves combining the reader’s prior knowledge with new knowledge from the text. Narrative text allows students to imagine what might happen next and informational text invites students to predict what they might learn or read about in subsequent passages. As Williams (2011) points out, predictions don’t necessarily need to be accurate, but they need to be clear.
Questioning. When students generate questions, they first identify the kind of information that is significant enough to provide the ingredient of a question. Students should be encouraged to make meaning and connections to prior knowledge, reflecting on three levels of questions:
‘ Right-There questions (from the text)
‘ Between-the-lines questions (inference needed)
‘ Critical Thought questions (require their opinion)
Clarifying focuses on coaching students in specific steps to help with decoding letter-sound correspondence, spelling, etc., and where required fix-up strategies to deal with difficult vocabulary and lapses in concentration.
Similar to clarifying Summarising provides the opportunity to identify, paraphrase, and integrate important information in the text, initially in pairs, and then share with their wider group or record their summary and read it aloud to their small group.
Students take turns at being the leader and the teacher listens and supports if required. The teacher also reflects and can provide feedback on each student’s contribution. Reciprocal teaching has been applauded for its ability to engage most learners because they are constantly building on prior knowledge and forming associations between new information and concepts.
Additionally, scaffolding presents opportunities for students to be successful before moving into unfamiliar territory. This type of instruction minimizes failure, which decreases frustration, especially for students with special learning needs.
Reciprocal Teaching is a great way to teach students how to determine important ideas from a reading while discussing vocabulary, developing ideas and questions, and summarizing information however most importantly Increases comprehension and decoding abilities across all curriculum areas, where students are actively engaged in learning; reading strategies are used in an integrated, coordinated way in a meaningful context.
Although scaffolding can be modified to meet the learning needs of all students, however, when used correctly, is incredibly time-consuming for teachers. Scaffolding also necessitates that the teacher give up some control in the classroom in order for learners to move at their own pace.
Dialogue plays a crucial role in reciprocal teaching (Palincsar, 1986), however a concern is that, how do teachers ensure that students maintain meaningful dialogues? Shallow or unfocused discussion of content does little to help students internalize the four reading strategies, especially if the teacher has relinquished control of the activity to the students, Hacker & Tenent, (2002).
The difference between English as first language and foreign language should also be taken into consideration. It is sometimes difficult for students to use English to discuss the text. Sometimes students lack the knowledge of content, or they do not have sufficient language proficiency to engage in English discussions. Thus, either content knowledge or language proficiency can hinder the effectiveness of reciprocal teaching.
Adaptations (1000 words)
‘ When, with whom and under what conditions is this practice effective?
‘ What adaptations are required for use:
‘ with M??ori?
‘ in the wider Aotearoa/NZ context?
‘ with other cultural groups?
‘ with learners with additional educational needs or multiple exceptionalities?
Well implemented, reciprocal teaching has been shown to improve students’ skills in reading comprehension, metacognition, social participation, and self-management. It is a strategy that is user-friendly for both teachers and students, yet has a high impact after a relatively short period of use. With long-term use, reciprocal teaching can support ongoing achievement gains, particularly if implemented across learning areas in ways that promote deep learning.
Reciprocal teaching can be adapted for students who are not fluent decoders and for those with special requirements. For example, Palincsar, (1986), describes listening comprehension, reading aloud to students as an adapted form of reciprocal teaching that teachers used when coaching small groups of at students. Within New Zealand classrooms these adaptions can take the form in the following ways. Mixed-ability groups and cross-age tutoring allows skilled peers to foster group dialogue for the less skilled, with the more skilled students gaining further tutoring and metacognitive skills themselves;
To be culturally relevant, teachers must adapt and create an accommodating and inviting classroom culture. Teachers need to demonstrate that they care for their students, because a genuine attitude of interest is likely to yield positive emotions that empower and motivate students Reciprocal teaching acknowledges these teaching and learning practices that are inherent to M??ori, conceptually the concept of Ako, alongside practices that may not be traditionally delivered but are preferred by M??ori learners. Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and recognises that the learner and whanau cannot be separated (Ministry of Education, 2008, p.22). With this in mind in New Zealand classrooms the adaptation of the learning process is needed. The use of high interest and relevant text view the whanau as a source of lived experiences who in turn provide learning opportunities that focus on mana tangata (development of self-esteem through contributing), mana motuhake (development of independence and autonomy), and mana reo (development of communication);
A combination of reciprocal teaching and drama-pedagogy might be useful in some educational settings. Reading strategies that have visual elements and that use action methods have often been successful with children, who have problems in reading (Hibbing & Ranking-Erickson, 2003; Johnson-Glenberg, 2000). Drawing illustrations of the main ideas while reading has been found to help comprehension, as students can use pictures to generate summaries of the texts they have read (Rich & Blake, 1994).
Whilst summative assessment gives information about the achievement and curriculum levels it does not tell us what factors caused those achievement levels, it is critical that there is a balance of summative and formative assessments in order for the main purpose of assessment, improving learning, to be achieved (Afflerbach & Kapinus, 1993; Gambrell et al, 2007). Reciprocal teaching is an evolving process where formative assessment encourages programme adaptation for each student through selection of suitable reading materials, in terms of levels, interest, topics, and curriculum significance.
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