Effective guided reading: theory and practice

September 2013 to October 2015 saw schools in Redbridge exploring Reciprocal teaching as a method to improve practices in Guided Reading. The project, funded by the London Schools Excellence fund (supported by the Mayor of London and the DfE), was led by Dr Wayne Tennent of the University of East London.

Reciprocal teaching for Guided Reading

Teachers demonstrate the different components of reading comprehension so children develop the skills to find a deeper understanding of what they read. In Reciprocal teaching, teachers model comprehension strategies then encourage children to apply them until the children are able to use the strategies independently. As the process is very oral, providing many opportunities for dialogue, it is well-suited to a Guided Reading situation.

The strategies include:

Clarifying: readers identify tricky parts of the text – language, passages or concepts – and look at how to make sense of them, e.g. using a dictionary.
Predicting: readers make connections using their own prior knowledge and information from the text to imagine what might follow.

Questioning: readers ask questions about parts of the text they find unclear or find ways to make connections. It can deepen understanding and encourage skills of inference-making.

Summarising: readers identify important information in a text (or part of a text) to organise into a clear description of the whole. It uses recall and literal understanding.

Visualising: readers may arrive at a mental representation of a text. Encouraging children to verbalise what they see can be a useful way to support understanding.

Evaluating: children are encouraged to begin to consider a text critically and to form and justify opinions. It might require linking to prior knowledge and understanding.