Classrooms are filled with a variety of students with different abilities, background knowledge, languages, skill levels, and personalities. All of these factors effect and play an important role in students’ abilities to comprehend stories, information, or articles that they read. With our highly diverse student population, my school and teachers were finding that our students lacked the background knowledge and vocabulary skills to understand, what some may deem as, simple stories. Over the last few years we focused on reciprocal teaching as a way to increase students reading, but also to make students think while reading. We want them to make connections to the stories they read, be able to ask powerful questions, clarify unfamiliar words or phrases, predict character actions, and summarize in their own words what happened and what the most important parts of the story are.
Here’s a student made video briefly explaining how reciprocal teaching works.
Although the ultimate goal is to have students working on these skills independently, at the grade four level, I still find that much teacher intervention is needed to order to ensure the process works effectively. I have found that having props handy makes the role play that much more exciting for the students.
Today, my AP and I were discussing how to improve my students’ reading comprehension skills with our current reading resources available and the ability gaps between students. We brainstormed and came up with the idea of a variety of novel studies happening in my classroom at one time. I haven’t attempted this before but feel it would be a great scaffold for my students, a perfect merger for reciprocal teaching, and the promises of a good concept. But how this would look and how it would function efficiently, well I am still unclear on that. I have the idea of having books on iPads or a way for the students who need to listen to a story, to have that available for them, but I am feeling that I’m still missing key concepts for this to work.
As an educator I am always trying to improve the learning environment for my students, allowing them to be successful and develop the skills necessary. I’m reaching out to other educators now, who can share their experiences with me. Has anyone tried this personally, and if so, what did you find worked and did not work? What were your challenges? What advise can you give to another educator?