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Using Echo Reading With Struggling Readers

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/11/2012

Echo reading is a reading strategy that will help struggling readers with fluency, reading orally, new vocabulary, and comprehension. For echo reading, all you need is a book on your student's level and a reader for students to echo. It is a simple reading strategy to help your students gain skills.

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    The Process

    If you teach remedial reading, then you know helping struggling readers with fluency and comprehension as well as reading on grade level is important to improve their skills and confidence. You can use echo reading activities to help these students. Here's the way echo reading works best:

    1. All readers have a copy of the text. The teacher or the lead reader reads a line of text. It will depend on the age and ability level of your students when deciding how much to read at one time.
    2. While the leader reads out loud with expression and at a good pace, the rest of the group follows along in the text.
    3. After the reader reads a line or sentence, then the students read it out loud. They try to imitate the way the leader reads the text during echo reading activities.
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    Why Echo Reading Helps

    Echo reading is an easy-to-use reading strategy for helping struggling readers learn about fluency, expression, and reading at an appropriate rate. This strategy can also help them learn about paying attention to punctuation marks while reading. The teacher or leader is modeling important skills to become a successful reader during echo reading activities. In a remedial reading class, students may also have difficulty with vocabulary in stories and books. Echo reading helps students to recognize new words and read at a pace which is better for comprehension. If students read too slow or too fast, they will most likely have trouble comprehending what they are reading. Fluency and pace affect comprehension, and using echo reading activities is perfect for helping struggling readers improve these skills.

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    Modifications for Echo Reading

    Echo reading activities might not work the same for every student or every classroom. Here are some modifications for helping struggling readers:

    1. Use a big book with a small group or class to do echo reading. Many simple picture books have been turned into big books for use in primary and remedial reading classrooms. In this case, the students wouldn't have their own text in front of them, but they should be able to see the words in the big book. It is important when echo reading that students can follow along in a text, and they are not just repeating words back to the teacher.
    2. Once a student has improved his reading ability or mastered a book, he can become the leader of echo reading activities. This can help a student's confidence and self-esteem. Many struggling readers have poor self-esteem. Finding ways to help these children improve in these personal areas is as important as helping them read well.
    3. Poetry can be a great text for echo reading. Poems are often short and can be copied onto one page, so students can have a copy while they are participating in echo reading activities.