Slow Down with The Slowdown

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This routine uses poetry to spark personal reflection and to open doors for discussions about what’s happening in students’ lives and the world. We recommend Tracy K. Smith’s daily podcast, The Slowdown, for this routine. In each five-minute episode, Smith explains what the poem she’s chosen means to her and then reads it out loud. Other sources for poems, many of which have audio recordings, include the websites Split This Rock, Poets.org, Poetry 180, and Poetry Foundation.

Face-to-Face Learning

Write or project the title of the poem and ask students to predict what it might be about. Play The Slowdown episode or, if your poem is from a different source, play a recording or read the poem out loud. Then have students read the poem to themselves and respond to one of the following questions in their journals: 

  • What’s worth talking about in this poem? 
  • What is your favorite line and why?
  • What does this poem make you think about? 

Have students place a star by one idea in their journal to share in a Wraparound activity, pair-share, or small-group discussion. 

Remote Learning

Share your screen to project the title of the poem as students log in to class. When they’ve all arrived, ask students to use the chat to predict what the poem might be about. Then share The Slowdown link with the poem so students can read along, and play the audio recording. Next, have students read the poem to themselves and respond to one of the following questions in their journals: 

  • What’s worth talking about in this poem? 
  • What is your favorite line and why? 
  • What does this poem make you think about? 

Move students into breakout groups for a few minutes to discuss what they feel is worth talking about in the poem.

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