Playlist of Your Life

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Playlist Of Abigail Lund’s Life

At the beginning of the year I kick off my math and science classes just like I would my writing classroom. We set up a writer’s notebook. My students are always so baffled why outside of the ELA classroom we are setting up a notebook to write in but this tradition in my classroom is sacred. 

We fill it with ideas, lists, thoughts, and personal bits that have nothing to do with science and math and yet everything to do with them. Of course this notebook is filled with notice and wonderings, science labs, and math riddles… occasionally when you flip you will see an activity that doesn’t look like math/science content.


Because I vowed when I left the ELA classroom that my students would still fill my room with words and that their thoughts would be valued in my classroom… and because of this vow we sometimes spend time writing about ourselves. 

One activity that I love doing with my students is using the enneagram to analyze characters and ourselves… which I wrote about last week but another I love is Playlist of My Life. 

Playlist of my Life 

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Take 1: Mentor Text  

There is this really good bit from Teen Vogue that invites famous musicians to talk through a list of the “Playlist of their Lives.” These could be songs that are meaningful from their childhood, songs they wish they had written, or songs that inspired them. They make a list of 8-12 songs and explain why they picked each song. 

I always say if we can talk about it… we can write about it. So lets go!

Take 2: Playlist 

I give my students 2 minutes to make a list. Write any songs that come to mind. The songs can be ones they love, hate, meaningful, remind you of something. Just a list. 

Timer goes off. Students star or mark  3-5 of their favorites.

I set a new timer.

Students have 3 minutes to write about one song. Whatever comes to mind (I share my playlist with them with some examples). They could write about why they like a song, a story of what that song means to them, a memory associated with it. 

After three minutes students turn and talk to a partner.


In 15 minutes they could have a rough outline of 5 songs. 

This could go into the whole writer’s process. Adding more songs and evidence to their thinking. Writing a narrative about that song with rich details that come with hearing the song. 

I always end this lesson/quickwrite/unit with having my students create a playlist on spotify or youtube to accompany their narratives. 


This lesson can be used for many different aspects of writing, not just the story of their life. 

  1. Playlist of my life in food 
    1. Recipes and food that brings back memories top 10 
  2. Top playlist moments in their lives 
    1. Big moments and sacred moments 
    2. Timeline of their life (by playlist) 
  3. Content topics
    1. Playlist of 5th grade Math 
      1. Narratives on “how to”
    2. Playlist of content
      1. Light 
      2. Explorers 
  4. Design a Album Cover for their playlist 
  5. Create a Spotify playlist/ Youtube playlist
    1. Have a place where the class can share their playlist
      1. Padlet, Jamboard 
  6. Create a Tick Toc with students playlist

Student’s example of Playlist of Science (check for understanding)

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  • What happens if my students can’t think of any songs? 
    • I ask leading questions
      • Who is your favourite musician? 
      • What are your favourite songs?
      • What songs did you listen to and like when you were a little kid?
      • What is a song you hate? Why do you hate it so much? 
  • Reverse order: 
    • Allow students to make the playlist first and then write about the songs. 
    • Let them listen to the music to help inspire their writing. 

Here’s to hoping students’ pens flow freely and their playlist inspires each other to write more.

Please reach out with questions, reflections, and connections in the comments below or on Twitter @Mrsablund. Check out my other articles writing out of the ELA classroom.

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