In the classroom, downtime means the possibility of letting behavior/classroom management go out the door. Even the most well-behaved of students can start to “act up” when bored.
So what to do during that last five minutes?
My answer was to trick my students into thinking they were just passing the time by while watching television, when, in fact, they were connecting what they watched to what they had learned. I would use clips from Poetry Everywhere of modern day comedians, artists, and celebrities reading poetry from some of the big names: Robert Frost, W.B. Yeats, Whitman, etc.
It was perfect. My students would watch and listen attentively. They actually wanted to go beyond the reading. By watching the videos, the students started to understand pacing and different rhyme schemes; they started to “get” that the end of a line doesn’t always mean an actual pause. They were most certainly becoming both stronger readers and writers, by exploring the power of language and looking at the world through the eyes of a poet.
One great thing I learned about using Poetry Everywhere is that short video clips are what’s best for learning. Because the clips were all normally less than five minutes, my showing video to students felt purposeful.
Check out these video segments that capture some of the voices of poetry, past and present.