How Reciprocal Teaching- RT3T™ fits with the Common Practice Model

Karen Farmer Karen Farmer

As an RT3T™ facilitator with more than 4 years of experience with Reciprocal Teaching- RT3T™, I was really excited…

I was excited when the Common Practice Model Phase 1: Principles and Pedagogical Approaches (Common Practice Model – Education in New Zealand) was published, as it is meant to pave the way for improvements in teaching and learning for all NZ students.

This document provides the first opportunity to see where the development of the Common Practice Model (CPM) is heading. Despite being described as the “how” to the curriculum’s “what”, frustratingly, this document does little to make this clear and, I could imagine, will leave many classroom teachers and school leaders feeling uncertain as to the way forward. 

I would like to suggest Reciprocal Teaching- RT3T™ provides a clear path. RT3T™ is a cross-curricular, inclusive and empowering approach for both teachers and students and provides a robust framework for teachers and school leaders to implement the principles and pedagogical approaches outlined in The Common Practice Model Phase 1: Principles and Pedagogical Approaches for Literacy and Communication.

One of the foundation principles of the CPM is that “every kaiako teaches literacy, communication and maths” (p.3). This expectation is also evident in the current curriculum (p.16): “For each area, students need specific help from their teachers as they learn: 

  • the specialist vocabulary associated with that area; 
  • how to read and understand its texts; 
  • how to communicate knowledge and ideas in appropriate ways; 
  • how to listen and read critically, assessing the value of what they hear and read” 

Through RT3T all teachers have a vehicle in which to carry out this expectation, particularly those for whom the teaching of literacy has not always been an area in which they have focused.

So how do we do it? With students working in small groups of 4–5, classroom teachers provide texts relevant to their current class topic and with a clear learning outcome. As students work their way through the RT3T™ process, collaboratively engaging in making meaning from the text through rich dialogue, the classroom teacher has opportunities to engage in explicit teaching. This may include a focus on a particular metacognitive skill, critical literacy or subject specific aspect of the text.

CPM pedagogical approaches How these pedagogical approaches are integral to RT3T™
Central to each of these examples is that the classroom teacher has purposefully selected the text and has made this purpose explicit to the students in their class
Active learning in literacy and communication involves reciprocal and interactive experiences for ākonga and kaiako.
  • The small group structure, clear roles and expectations of participation ensure that all students are actively learning during RT3T™.
  • Resources such as the Participation Grid and Remember Card are two of the scaffolds students use to help them maintain focus and support their collaborative learning.
Critical literacy recognises that texts are socially constructed and not neutral, and involves interrogating and constructing texts.
Rich, extended dialogue in literacy and communication provide opportunities for kaiako and ākonga to share their ideas and respectfully challenge thinking.
  • RT3T™ has at its heart, rich and extended dialogue. Through the RT3T™ process students are able to practice and extend their skills.
  • Clarifying is one opportunity where students can share their thinking, ask for help, and learn to respectfully offer differing opinions.
    “Can someone please clarify xxx for me, I think it means…”
    “I don’t think xxx means that here, it doesn’t make sense in the sentence.”
Strengthening explicit teaching in literacy and communication is a purposeful way of teaching knowledge, skills, and strategies for making and communicating meaning in oral, written, visual and multimodal forms.
  • RT3T™ provides a foundation and a starting point for explicit teaching of literacy and communication. From reminding teachers of the importance of making the learning explicit to students, “Why are we reading this text today?” to more detailed ways to scaffold students’ skill development in each of the four targeted thinking skills.
Multiliteracies recognise multiple modes of making meaning (visual, gestural, audio, spatial, and linguistic) within a range of social, cultural, and linguistic contexts.
Culturally responsive and sustaining approach recognises, fosters, and values the diverse ethnicities, linguistic contexts, and cultural practices of all ākonga.
  • RT3T™ has a strong classroom focussed research base in Aotearoa New Zealand, achieving success for all students. The essence of Reciprocal Teaching translates in Te Reo Māori as whakaako tauutuutu, meaning to teach and coach one another, with kaiako and ākonga confident to be both teacher and learner when working collaboratively. This provides opportunities to create safe learning environments that encourage learners and teachers to build positive relationships. RT3T™ helps to make school learning relevant for learners by validating their own cultural experiences and knowledge within the context of tuakana-teina relationships.
Linguistically diverse learning: As the definition of this has yet to be released we won’t speculate on how RT3T™ might fit with this approach.

What we can say is that RT3T™ provides a structure for all learners to be happily confident in both their own culture and heritage languages, as well as in the language of the classroom. Once learnt in one language and/or in a bilingual context, RT3T™ can be easily transferred across heritage languages, and is in use with ESL students as well as within Te Reo, Samoan and Tongan classrooms.

Have you checked out the 4 min RT3T™ Kaupapa Storytelling Animation? Link:

For more information about the research base behind RT3T™ check out this latest release from BES Programme: Hei Kete Raukura on the Education Counts website.

RT3T cross-curricular Common Practice Model reciprocal teaching