Rock the Bells: Personalize Learning with Playlists

Rock the Bells: Personalize Learning with Playlists

Eboni Hogan

Eboni Hogan

Content Specialist

Eboni has extensive experience in curriculum development, with a focus on culturally-responsive and arts-based approaches. Having spent years creating academic content and providing professional development to teachers, she now curates themed playlists meant to provide educators with valuable, time-saving resources.

In this first article of 2, Content Specialist Eboni Hogan shares a back-to-school horror story that highlights the importance of embracing “bells and whistles” like personalized learning to keep students engaged — and how teaching playlists can help.


Traditional Lesson Plans vs. Playlists

It’s only my first day working with a new co-teacher when she proclaims that she has revised the plan for how we will spend the next 45 minutes in her 11th grade English class.  

Her edits:

  1. She’s ditching my lesson plan. “Too complicated. They’ll get noisy.”
  2. She’ll read the next chapter of The Great Gatsby aloud because “they never volunteer so someone has to.”
  3. In the last 5 minutes, she’ll invite me up to “do your rap thing.” 

This may come as a disappointment but I’m not a rapper. I’m not sure where I went wrong with the initial introduction email. Maybe AutoCorrect changed “teaching artist who specializes in arts integration and culturally responsive approaches” to “rap thing.”

Simple miscommunication can turn an arts educator into wedding entertainment quicker than you can say “hotel, motel, Holiday Innnn”. 

After clarifying that at no point would I be freestyling, I reminded her of how we’d agreed to spend the class time. Students would examine a smaller chunk of the required reading, using a number of cognitive strategies to activate the text. Tapping into prior knowledge would make this classic story personally relevant and then an analysis of various media would help students make real world connections to better understand the themes.

Finally, students would have a choice of two simple performance assessments to express their understanding in a way that worked for them. I didn’t know then that essentially what I was offering was a playlist that provided multiple access points to boost comprehension. But nevertheless, this teacher was convinced that I’d constructed some kind of fun house mirror illusion of a lesson plan. Good fun but ultimately someone is gonna throw up their funnel cake. Or fail the end-of-book assessment.


Personalized learning, student choice, and culturally responsive pedagogy: Merely bells and whistles? 

During our brief odd-coupling, I served an ornamental role in her classroom. Still Life of Quietly Seething Teaching Artist in High School Classroom. I quickly became versed in her patterns and rituals. Review vocabulary, read aloud, and written responses with the occasional “special treat” – watching clips from the film “The Great Gatsby”. Not the glitter-bomb DiCaprio rendition. The 1974 version. 

Her way of teaching was as predictable as how her students responded. No one was particularly enthused but the invariability and clarity around expectations was effective for a good portion of the students. The rest struggled each day, often derailing the rest of the class when boredom or frustration became overwhelming. 

Those that could not or were unwilling to adapt to her rigid structure were labeled “apathetic” or “difficult” and in suggesting alternative ways to bring them into the loop, it became clear that concepts like student choice, culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) and personalized instruction were considered bells and whistles. Students don’t need too many choices. Giving students too much space overcomplicates things. 

A good teacher is a good teacher. And a good teacher’s students will learn. 

And with that final statement, I packed up my satchel of rap goddess goods and marched off to the site coordinator’s office to request a new assignment.

When improving student outcomes drives educators to the teaching strategy deserts… enter playlists.

I will say, this was not standard operating procedure with a majority of the educators I had the pleasure of teaming up with. Many teachers are under so much pressure to improve student performance that they take to roaming the Strategy Deserts, looking for ways to enhance their practices. 

I’m used to initial resistance and I appreciate the skeptical ones because they keep me honest. I’m not in the trenches with them every day, beholden to assessment procedures and protocol. My only hope is that the work I’m passionate about takes the pressure off of them having to be the center of their students’ learning. The pressure of being a good teacher whose students will learn. 

This is why playlists are particularly effective in refocusing that lens. Throughout the year, I compile and produce a diverse collection of materials that support specific academic content standards. 

Kiddom playlists are shared in a format that allows for teachers to customize them before inviting students to plot their own journey towards a common learning goal.

But I’m still that teaching artist, peddling culturally responsive pedagogy like it’s the most useful set of knives you’ll ever own (It can cut through a penny; allow me to demonstrate!) so naturally I approach playlist curation with the same sensibility. Give students materials that inspire them to learn and they will, with or without a “good” teacher.

Come back next week for part 2, in which Eboni shares how culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) can be implemented in a classroom and its link to personalized instruction.

Early Elementary Teaching Resources

Blended learning playlists for Kindergarten through 2nd grades.

Grades 3-5 Teaching Resources

Curated content to engage your 3rd through 5th grade students.

Middle School Teaching Resources

6th-8th grade curated curriculum for middle school students.

High School Teaching Resources

Curated blended learning curriculum for high school classrooms.

Social Studies Teaching Resources

Socially responsible social studies curriculum! Curated by our content experts.

English Teaching Resources

ELA-aligned content for blended learning classrooms.

Science Teaching Resources

She BLINDed me with SCIence playlists! Props if you get the reference. 🙂

Math Teaching Resources

These curated Math playlists really put the M in STEM!  

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Curriculum is Culture

Responding to a recent shift from curriculum analysis to culture change, author Geoffrey Schmidt argues that the two cannot be separated.

On the Hook to Engage Students? Find ClassHook’s Video Resources from Kiddom’s K-12 Library

On the Hook to Engage Students? Find ClassHook’s Video Resources from Kiddom’s K-12 Library

Even the most animated teachers know what it’s like to stand before a room full of glazed-over stares and drooping eyelids. Student engagement is often the toughest part of the job, and many educators struggle to “hook” their students and reel them into academic content.

The good news is, you don’t have to do backflips or pepper your lesson plans with the latest slang (you really, really don’t) to get your students interested, inspired, and ready to learn. ClassHook provides you with a simple way to hit refresh on your lessons. Here are three ways to engage your classroom using ClassHook and Kiddom:


Tip 1: Use ClassHook to bring a bit of interest, humor, and retention into the classroom

ClassHook is a full library of short film clips pulled from popular media that can be used to pique interest and make students feel more connected to the academic content. Let Bart Simpson explain the properties of metal. The Animaniacs remind students to carry their 1’s. Shrek schools them on literary tropes. How’s that for a mnemonic device!




Tip 2: Use a ClassHook video as a high-level primer for a new topic

Film is a familiar medium for young people, and leveraging media literacy is a powerful way to help students understand complex ideas. Use ClassHook to introduce or reinforce academic concepts. While students won’t receive all of the pertinent information just from watching these clips, it can be the spoonful of sugar needed to move through a lesson with ease. Each ClassHook clip is tagged by grade level, subject, and topic so it’s easy to find appropriate content to fortify any lesson.


Tip 3: Make homework more approachable

At the end of a class, use Kiddom to drag and drop a ClassHook video resource from Planner into student assignments for students to watch later at home. This kind of homework can can be quite helpful for retaining a lesson, and might be more approachable to those students who already have plenty of reading materials to study. This tip might be especially useful for teachers trying to keep students engaged over a break or a long weekend.



Kiddom integrates the most helpful teaching tools in one place so you can plan individualized lessons, assign curriculum, grade, and do your reporting all in one place. Along with our new Classhook integration, you can build your Kiddom lesson plans upon various other tools like CK-12, Newsela, LearnZillion, Quill, RocketLit, IXL Learning, and more!



Ready to start planning with ClassHook resourcesKiddom is free for classroom teachers!


By: Eboni Hogan, Content Specialist


Captivate Your Classroom With These High School Playlists

Captivate Your Classroom With These High School Playlists

Captivate your classroom with these teaching “playlists” which are a series of themed blended resources you can use for the diverse students in your class.

Explore each playlist by subject, or access the entire collection.

captivate your classroom with this social studies playlist on globalization -- blue globe spinning


Social Studies: The Problem With Prosperity
Our world is more interconnected than ever before but globalization has vast economic, political and social repercussions.

a chicken turns into a dinosaur in this evolution graphic, which when clicked will take you to the Science - Darwinning" playlist


Science: Darwinning 
In our planetary thunder-dome, it’s survival of the fittest. Thanks to the tireless work of Charles Darwin, evolution isn’t just a theory anymore.


a computer screen gif that shows a magnifying glass looking closer at a graph


Math: Survey Says…
When applied responsibly, data collection can uncover many truths. See how statistical studies shape our world.

captivate your english classroom with this list of resources to help students think about the author's motive


English: What’s Your Point?
An author’s purpose isn’t always so clearly defined but with a little investigating, we can unearth their motives.




By: Eboni Hogan, Content Specialist


P.S. Want more resources? Sign up for Kiddom and receive monthly curated content just for your grade level.

P.P.S. Want to dive right in? Click here to access a demo class!

Scrambling For Curriculum After Memorial Day Weekend? (6-8th Grade Playlists)

Scrambling For Curriculum After Memorial Day Weekend? (6-8th Grade Playlists)

Check out these newly curated resources for grades 6–8. Explore each playlist by subject, or access the entire collection of 6-8th grade resources here.

Social Studies: Outbreak!



Welcome to the dark side of the Silk Road. Examine how interregional interactions led to the spread of the Black Death.

Science: A Lap Around the Gene Pool




Your genes hold the code to everything from eye color to tongue rolling. Explore the laws of genetics and the factors that influence our traits.

Math: Another Dimension




Time to steamroll some shapes! This playlist explains how to create nets for 3D shapes then use them to calculate surface area.

English: Smooth Transitions




If your students struggle with constructing essays or narratives that flow effortlessly, show them how to use transitional words and phrases.

Did you find these resources useful? Let us know!




By: Eboni Hogan, Content Specialist


P.S. Access a demo class to learn how Kiddom’s tools help teachers save time.

Instructional Playlists to Shake Things Up (3-5th Grades)

Instructional Playlists to Shake Things Up (3-5th Grades)

From earthquakes to conversion tables, we’ve put together these teaching resources specifically for 3rd-5th grade classrooms.

Instructional Playlists to Shake Things Up is a collection of themed teaching resources for all grades. You can explore each playlist by subject below, or access the entire collection here.

Social Studies: Breaking the Border

This playlist provides a comprehensive look at a long history of border disputes and immigration policies, while also illustrating the harrowing journey that undocumented migrants undergo in reimagining the American Dream.

Science: Quake Solutions




Shake things up with this playlist that explores why buildings collapse during earthquakes and how earth science and engineering is converging to construct quake-proof structures.

Math: Turning Tables




Time to turn the tables on the metric system. These resources will help students learn how to create their own conversion tables for metric units of measure.

English: Word Sleuths




Turn your students into literary detectives as they discover strategies for deciphering words that they don’t know using context clues .

Want more curated instructional resources?

Sign up and receive monthly curated content specifically for your grade level(s).




By: Eboni Hogan, Content Specialist


P.P.S. Access a demo class and see if Kiddom is appropriate for your teaching needs.

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