One day after school while I was sitting at a table in a classroom one of the teachers brought her test to me and asked me if her it could be done in Edusoft. I looked at the test and then we began to discuss all of the different components that were on the test. I asked her why she had so many matching vocabulary items on her test? Her response was, ” The students were low in vocabulary.” So, I thought about it for a second and then I said, ” We do not teach vocabulary in isolation any more because it sends the message to the students that vocabulary is separate from reading; vocabulary should be taught in context.” We talked about what vocabulary in context looked like and how she could implement it in her classroom. In the midst of the conversation she said, ” During her close reading …..” I stopped her and asked, ” Have you heard of Reciprocal Teaching?” She said no, so I explained to her that Reciprocal Teaching had 4 components: the questioning, summarizing, predicting, and clarifying. It was getting late and we had to leave so I told her to research Reciprocal Teaching on the Internet.
This conversation that I had with this teacher always resurfaces periodically when I hear elementary teachers talk about close reading. I do not believe that close reading is appropriate for elementary students or struggling readers because it assumes that students are proficient in text connections, summarizing, analyzing and other necessary comprehension skills. In the article Why Reciprocal Teaching 4th grade students in the Highland Park, Michigan school district received intensive instruction in Reciprocal Teaching reading comprehension strategies during the 1993-1994 school saw their reading scores for the next two year’s group of 4th graders continue to improve : for 1995 31.5 percent; 1996 39.6 percent. Not only did the elementary reading scores in improve, high school students who were seeking diplomas with endorsements in reading and math exceeded 25 percent in some test areas.
The concern that I have with the Common Core State Standards supporting Close Reading is that many teachers have do not have any idea what close reading is or how to implement it with young learners or struggling readers. Reciprocal Teaching allows young learners and struggling reading to gain the necessary reading comprehension skills that Close Reading requires when reading a complex text.
Reciprocal Teaching also teaches students how to create and identify on the surface questions (right here questions) and under the surface questions (inference).
Reciprocal Teaching provides students with the reading comprehension skills that are required in Close Reading. If students have not mastered reading comprehension skills such as, questioning, predicting and summarizing then Close Reading will be a useless tool for teachers and students.