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Monday, June 15, 2015

Reciprocal Teaching at Work: Whole Class

Today I am going to be writing about chapter 3 from Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12. One thing I love about this book is the practical advice for using reciprocal teaching in a variety of settings. Today's chapter looks at using reciprocal teaching in whole class lessons.
Click on the cover to go to Amazon.

What are the goals of whole-class lessons for reciprocal teaching?


  • Establish a common language for using the strategies
  • Teach and scaffold the strategies
  • Provide a community format for discussions and reinforcing procedures
  • Show students how to use multiple strategies for comprehension
and probably most importantly
  • Guide students of all reading levels to improve their comprehension on grade-level material
I think helping all students comprehend grade-level material is so important. Plus, it provides us with a common text that we can use for content areas as well. We have so much to teach that integration is not just good teaching practice, it's a necessity. When I look at all the fifth grade standards, it kind of panics me because I don't know how I can possibly fit it all in. So using content area texts with reciprocal teaching just makes sense to me. I got these recently and I think they look perfect for integrating fifth grade social studies into reciprocal teaching.

On the back it says that they are also going to have books called Westward Expansion and Civil War and Reconstruction.

Essential Foundations for Effective Whole-Class Instruction

  • Scaffolding - Think gradual release of responsibility here. We will be using teacher modeling, student participation/guided practice and reflection. This can include having students turn and talk to a partner and written reflection or responses.
  • Think-Alouds - Make your thinking public! It's so important for your students to hear your thinking. If they don't know what this type of thinking looks and sounds like, they won't be able to do it themselves. So walk them through your thinking as you read.
  • Meta-cognition - We have to get students to think about their thinking. This means a lot of discussion.
  • Cooperative Learning - Keep students engaged with some cooperative learning. Rather than have the same students always raising their hands, let them turn and talk to a partner. Remember that student involvement increases engagement and achievement.
"The best advice in regard to whole-class sessions is to avoid overdoing them." (page 99)

The author refers to not over using whole class lessons. Mix them up with small group lessons. But have you ever been observed during a guided reading lesson where you tried to do every single thing? Use every trick in your bag? Then before you know it the lesson has taken 30 minutes. Been there, done that. Yet in everyday teaching I can't have 30 minute guided reading lessons with each group. I pick and choose what to do each day. My bag of tricks may have tons of activities, but I rotate them and judge what is needed on this particular day with these particular kids on this particular book. I think the same thing applies to whole-class reciprocal teaching lessons. You can't do it all in one lesson. You want to pick and choose what's best for these kids on this day with this text. 

One last thought...whole-class reciprocal teaching sounds a lot like a shared reading lesson in the lower grades. I've never heard an upper grade teacher talk about shared reading so maybe I need to learn the correct terminology, but I'd say this sounds a lot like a shared reading lesson in my first grade. Maybe the switch won't be so difficult.

Next week, chapter four is on using reciprocal teaching in guided reading groups. And you might want to check back in tomorrow because my new collaboration group called Focused on Fifth is starting with our first ever blog hop. I am super excited about working with this great group of teachers. We are going to be blogging about Kelly Gallagher's Readicide. It's a super interesting book.

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