Instructional Playlists

How To Build an Instructional Playlist:
After focusing on a specific objective or objectives, a few steps can help you to design instructional playlists for your learners:

  1. Gather the resources and activities.
  2. Order the activities in a logical way.
  3. Incorporate personalized learning strategies to meet each student’s needs.
  4. Determine the format, choices, checkpoints, points, and pace.

First, identify what type of playlist you would like to create for your students. You can organize your playlist in many ways, while offering differentiated instruction that will allow students to have some form of control over their individual learning. A broad majority of students use technology in their everyday lives, and many will find this approach to learning exciting and motivating.

After you have chosen an objective, break it down into a series of tasks and goals. Consider the standards you might be meeting and the overall unit, and then address student needs through personalized learning opportunities based on student needs, interests, readiness, and background knowledge. Provide students with access to the playlist, guidance and expectations while working, and then allow them to work independently.

Playlist Models:
There are three common types of playlist models including single path, choice board, and a blend of both.

Single Path:
With the single path model a teacher creates a sequential list of learning experiences. Each student is expected to complete these tasks in order to meet certain learning objectives. Ideally, each student has a playlist specifically tailored to his or her needs and learning style. This can be time-consuming, and it is often most effective to create three separate playlists for groups of students. These lists can then be tweaked slightly to meet each students’ needs. For example, a learner which might benefit from an additional grammar skill review before beginning a writing project might have a tailored task inserted in his or her playlist that must be completed first.

Choice Board:
Another option is to create a choice board playlist. This option allows students to have some additional choice in their learning experience. This allows them to tailor a learning path curated from options they have chosen. Before assigning choice boards, you might consider providing a self-assessment to help students understand how they learn best. Students can then make informed decisions about their learning opportunities in order to help ensure the most success. Choice boards are intentionally structured so that students will experience the desired learning no matter which path they choose.

A Blend of Both:
With this approach, learners are provided with two categories of learning activities: must do and may do. The must do activities ensure that all students gain the same core instruction, while the may do options allow students to customize the rest of their learning experience in order to meet their unique needs and styles. Learners might have to choose a certain pre-determined number of tasks in order to meet these goals. This learning process is a blend of a fixed and flexible experience.

Learn: Choose Three
Practice: Complete All
Show: Choose Two

Sample Playlist Set-Up:

Help learners to set goals while completing their playlists. This allows for differentiation while still keeping learners on track to complete tasks successfully and within a reasonable time. This can also help you to identify when a learner might be stuck or no longer on track. While learners work independently, you can monitor their progress fairly easily. You can also easily check in on playlist progress which have been set up using Google docs or other online modalities.

Homework and Enrichment:
With personalized instructional playlists, students often set their own homework schedules. For example, a learner that has worked ahead of pre-set due dates will most likely not need to complete homework. For learners that might like to get further ahead or need to complete goals by a certain date, they might decide that homework is a useful solution to help them stay on track. Students that complete work quickly can be provided with enrichment opportunities that relate to their current playlists.

Playlist Checklist:

  1. Does the playlist ensure that students are achieving the learning objective(s)?
    • Do the tasks align to the learning targets?
    • Are activities sequenced in a way that guide students through their learning journey?
    • Does the playlist have built-in opportunities for specific feedback?
    • Is content scaffolded to provide support during the learning process?
  2. Does it offer differentiation while engaging in learning?
    • Does it offer multiple ways to demonstrate learning?
    • Does it offer multiple ways of learning the content?
  3. Is it student-centered and personalized?
    • Does it offer students choice and voice?
    • Can learners control some portions of their pace, path, and/or time?
    • Does it support multiple learning styles?
    • Does it offer opportunities for enrichment and/or remediation?
  4. Does it include high-quality learning experiences?
    • Does it offer opportunities for critical thinking, creativity, and/or collaboration?
    • Are the tasks motivating and engaging?
  5. Is it well-designed?
    • Are the directions clear, concise, and easy to find?
    • Is the format easy to navigate?
    • Are visual cues consistent?
    • Is it visually-appealing?

What are Instructional Playlists?


How To Build an Instructional Playlist

Playlist Checklist

Using Playlists Across A Variety of Classroom Settings

Consider using a simple planning template. Think about point values for each activity and the desired pace as you plan. Download this sample to get started.

Playlist Planning Template