Composing a Playlist for a Character

Composing a Playlist for a Character

Grade Level:  7-12
Content Area: Filed under English, but could certainly be used for a variety of other subjects. For example, students could make a playlist for a historical character (Social Studies/History) or a famous artist (Art), or even about a natural disaster or weather event (science).
Theme/Topic:  Critically analyzing both music and a text and putting them together; students must first understand the song and text separately and be able to apply their understanding of each to the other.

Common Core Standards: There is at least 20+ standards for this lesson, so I’ve picked out a few that I think are most important.

  • 9-10.RL.3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • 9-10.RI.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • 9-10.W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

I really liked this lesson because I think it’s really interesting and would be fun for students but is also a meaningful activity. I like having fun in the classroom but I think there needs to be a purpose other than just because something is enjoyable. I love the idea of incorporating music into my lesson plans. I constantly listen to music and get ideas, clarifications, and advice from music, so why not apply it to something else I love: literature. I think this gives students an opportunity to show a little of their personality in an assignment, which I don’t think they get to do very often. Besides picking out songs, they have to validate their choices with some sort of rationale from the text, which is always a good skill to work on.

Students should be able to:  Put their selves in the mind of the character, think about music in relation to a text, rationalize their song choices, and cite situations from the text that relate to their songs. I believe the requirement that students use textual evidence in their rationales is a “long-term learning” skill because they will be doing it throughout high school and college, just in different contexts.

Students are actively engaged by choosing songs that they know, by having the opportunity to choose from their repertoire and explain their thinking. I think students like to share their taste and music choices with their peers, so I think they’ll be really into this activity.

I would probably not change this activity much at all. I would take out the letter to the character because I don’t think it’s necessary along with the rationale for each song.  I also think it’s necessary to add something about how the songs should be school appropriate, or at least censored to make them so. One thing you need to ensure with this lesson is enough library or lab time, seeing as every student may not have internet or computer access at home.


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