Soundtrack of Your Life

(adapted from Goering 2009) 

This is a great assignment for personal narrative writing.  Completed through a process, students connect memories to songs, starting with people, places, and events directly associated with a song and moving to more abstract connections, connecting themes and content of a song to something important in their lives.

Grade Level/Age: 10th grade (15-16 years)

Curriculum Addressed: Critical thinking, literary analysis, and communication.

Process Goals: Students create a personal narrative examining the connection between a song’s content and their personal experience.

Materials: Any source could be adapted for use with this activity.

Desired Understandings: Students will continue to home their critical thinking, literary analysis, and communication skills as they explore shared connections between personal experience and music.


  1. Students make a list of the eight to ten events, people, or places having had the largest impact on making them who they are. 
  2. From this initial list, students next connect these memories to songs. Sometimes, songs are playing during events or specific people or places are directly associated with a song. Other times, students choose songs in more abstract ways, connecting themes and content of a song to something important in their lives. 
  3. Next, students explain each connection in narrative form, providing details which make the connection clear to the reader. 
  4. Finally, students choose a single memory and song to develop into an extended composition.  As an extension, final compositions can be presented to the class or adapted into an iMovie digital essay.


Standard 2: Reading for All Purposes

  1. Literary and historical influences determine the meaning of traditional and contemporary literary texts. 

Standard 3:  Writing and Composition

  1. Literary or narrative genres feature a variety of stylistic devices to engage or entertain an audience.
  2. Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience.
  3. Grammar, language usage, mechanics, and clarity are the basis of ongoing refinements and revisions within the writing process.

Assessment:  I use two rubrics to evaluate students’ performances – our English Department’s AP Quick Write and extended composition writing rubrics.  

Adaptions/Accommodations:  I expect all students to do their best in completing the assignment.  I limit the number of responses students develop before choosing their central song for the final composition.  I also adapt the length of the assignment as needed.