As a high school language arts teacher, I’m always trying to provide my students with alternate but equal assessments that aren’t always an essay. It’s true—you can totally assess a set of skills using claim, textual evidence, and reasoning in creative ways. This 10-song playlist project is one that I’ve found very well-liked and successful. 

No matter the text—be it a novel, poem, short story, etc—students love tying the characters, events, and ending to music. Reading and interpreting lyrics is just as much analysis as it is with novels, even if they might have a few choice words in them. Music is our students’ passion and motivation most days. This is evidenced by me having to continuously ask them to please take their earbuds out. Their life is an anthem. Let’s use that passion for learning! 


Students can use this graphic organizer as an outline to help guide them to analyze and find commonalities between the text and the songs. I like having a requirement to focus on songs that represent the theme/s of the text, as well as allowing freedom for the students to find songs that represent their favorite part, the character’s traits, and relationships between characters. You can focus on this project in as many ways as you need.


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Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her tenth year of teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.