Students are divided into groups of four, each with a copy of the reading text. Each student is given an allocated letter. Students then read the passage individually, or one person is nominated to read it aloud. Depending on the letter they have been allocated each student undertakes one specific task:
- Predicts what the text will be about.
- Asks a question - either a word meaning or something else she doesn't understand. The rest of the group try to answer.
- Identifies a key word in a passage and explains its importance. The others offer a key word so that the group comes up with 4-6 key words.
- Retells or summarises the information. The group agrees on this summary.
The group then creates a visual that sums up the text.
Each skill needs to be taught/modelled beforehand. The first few times this strategy is used it is useful for the teacher to model it with the whole class. For example, use a text and elicit responses from the confident students in the class. Then using another section of text allocate the group roles and use these task cards to remind students of their roles. The students write their responses on the task sheets and the teacher elicits responses from different groups in the class, recording on the whiteboard and talking through issues as they arise.
Question dice are a useful and enjoyable way of developing students' questioning skills.
Cooperative reading is based on Palincsar and Brown's research into reciprocal teaching.