How I Got My Students On Board for Playlists

featured image - playlist icon

Today’s Contributor: Elise Baughman
My name is Elise Baughman and I teach Physics and Forensic Science at McCallum High School. When I’m not teaching, I like to be outside with my dogs, do renovation projects with my husband, and work in my garden.

I have been part of the Transformative Technology Leadership Pathway for the past two years and have made adding more student choice to my classes the cornerstone of my learning. However, it has been important for me to remember that many of my students have not spent two years learning about and practicing having constant choice in their classes. Therefore, I have found myself adding scaffolds throughout the year to support my students as they learn how to operate in this new learning environment.

The first tool that I used that really increased my student buy-in to this whole process was Google Form surveys. At first these surveys were a way for me to receive feedback from students on how they thought a particular lesson or unit went, along with their suggestions for future improvement. These feedback surveys were incredibly insightful and helped me build better units and community with my students, but I was able to take this tool to the next level when I learned about “Learner Profiles” last fall in my Leadership Pathway and when reading the book The Blended Learning Blueprint for Elementary Teachers. Learner Profiles are a great tool that allowed me to better understand not just what my students wanted to learn, but how they wanted to learn it and how they preferred to demonstrate their knowledge. My students’ profiles really showed me they would not only benefit from, but also enjoy, many of the changes that would come with more personalized learning.

The second tool I use is a playlist. My current format went through a few iterations and is still being refined (based primarily on student feedback), but it helps me organize the choice my students have over activities and pacing/ordering content. It allows me to give students tons of information without making their Modules view in BLEND overwhelming.

The third tool I use is a “Star Chart” to help my students (and myself without endless scrolling through gradebooks) track their progress through each unit. When students complete an activity, they mark it off on their chart which is posted at the front of the room. This then turned into a friendly class competition where, at the end of each week, I find which class has the highest average amount of work done per student and that class wins candy the following week.

The final tool that I have found value in is daily journals for students. I give them paper packets with a calendar and exactly enough journal entry spaces for days until their test. This allows students to plan, set goals for each day, reflect on what they accomplished or may still need to do, and it allows me to give them feedback or respond to their concerns.

The combination of these tools has helped my students adjust to choice and grow to become more independent. I hope they can take some of the skills they have learned with them as they move on to college or their future careers.


  1. Ah! I saw your class was featured in last week’s session! I love that the students have to own their learning style beforehand– holds ’em accountable. They had to think about it first!

  2. I love this idea! I use something similar to the playlists with a Personal Learning Path but I love the daily journal reflections packet to compliment it. I also really like the idea of the Star Chart as an “at a glance” look at the students work. Great job all around!

  3. I love the Star chart. I find that you are right, playlist need some kind of paper accountability. I have been using an individual piece of paper for each kid and they keep track, but I love how the Star chart allows me as a teacher just to see everything quickly in one place.

  4. Wow! I love this! I too have found that many of my students have trouble when faced with choices. I like that the tracking board is just about completion, so student performance is still confidential. I can’t wait to incorporate this idea, thanks!

  5. I really love the daily journal idea, and do something similar in my Sci R/D class. (without the planning part, but I’d like to add that in for next year). I also wonder if BLEND Surveys could be used for this purpose. I have also been wondering about how to have students track themselves in my chemistry classes digitally…

  6. I love the idea of the daily journals. They are like a level up from paper checklists that I use during station rotations. I think journals might help address some of concerns I’ve been having. Also, so smart to have students visibly tracking their own progress. I use a star chart in my class, but updating it gets pretty time consuming for me. Why hadn’t I thought to have them do it themselves? I am so glad I read this post.

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