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The Dreaded Last 5 Minutes of Class

posted on August 19, 2011

The Dreaded Last 5 Minutes of Class
During my student teaching semester last fall, one of the scariest moments was the last five minutes of class. That point when I wrapped up a super great lesson, where all the students seemed to “get it,” but there wasn’t enough time to have them start something new. I did not need them to take a quiz, and I absolutely didn’t want them to just sit idly by, passing time, waiting for the bell to ring with the possibility of my principal walking by and wondering why the students were not doing anything.

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.

Tags: art education educators English language Language and Literacy media learning poetry poets professional development students teachers television video

Subjects: The ArtsLiteracy & Languages

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