Welcome to today’s tip in my month-long Poetry Tips for Teachers series.
Tip #15: Echo read.
Try echo reading. You read a line, and then the students echo it back to you. This is great for helping students’ fluency, and I’m always amazed at how quickly and how well they pick up on performance nuances. Kids don’t feel self-conscious reading loud or emphasizing words or whatever, because they’re just doing what you’re doing. Over time, though, they absorb those skills and use them in other reading.
I’ve usually used this technique with rhythmic, rhyming poems, though I think it also has applications with free verse or other non-rhyming forms. If I were echo-reading a non-rhyming poem, I would point out that I was going to demonstrate ONE way to read the poem, and they were going to mimic that way, just as a way to absorb the poem and where I emphasize words, pause, and such. I would also make sure to let kids know, though, that my way is definitely not the only way to read it. Another plus of echo reading is it takes away the intimidation factor.
Two tips: Choose relatively short poems and choose poems with short lines. Otherwise, the reading will get cumbersome and the poem will seem to drag on forever!
Here’s a poem I might use with this technique, from the brand new Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations–Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s latest brainchild!
And here I am reading the poem with space left for the echoing back.