Disclosure: Tract is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com
What is Tract?
I’ve written about Tract a handful of times this fall. If you didn’t see one of those posts, here’s a quick summary of what Tract is.
Tract is a new service that launched this past summer. It offers fun lessons for elementary school, middle school, high school students taught by high school and college students. The lessons and corresponding activities cover a wide array of fun and interesting topics. On Tract you will find lessons about photography, gaming, cooking, music, sports, and much more. Students can earn digital and physical prizes for completing the lessons and their corresponding activities.
As the preceding paragraph implies, high school students can contribute to Tract by creating their own video lessons for others to learn from. Lessons can be created for just about any topic that students are interested in teaching to others (provided it’s school-appropriate).
Take a look at this video for a teacher and student perspective of how Tract works.
Benefits for Students
There are numerous potential benefits for students using Tract as part of their remote and hybrid learning experiences. Perhaps the biggest benefit is getting to pursue the topics that interest them. Within Tract students can pursue learning paths of their choosing (you get to see their choices in your teacher dashboard). Tract learning paths cover a huge array of topics ranging from fun things like musical animals to serious things like investing in different sectors of the stock market to lots of interesting things between those extremes. In short, there is not a shortage of fun and interesting things for students to learn through Tract’s student-created learning paths.
Tract doesn’t limit students to just watching and completing learning paths. Students are also encouraged to participate in producing their own learning paths. In November I outlined that process in this blog post. By creating videos and challenges for learning paths of their own design, students are able to showcase their knowledge of favorite topics and share their knowledge with classmates and the world at large. For many students creating a learning path about a topic of personal interest will be a welcome deviation from creating projects about a prescribed topic. In other words, students get to be the expert and share their expertise with a “real world” audience.
Students can create Tract learning paths about a favorite topic at home and or in your classroom. When they create the learning path content at home, students are able to incorporate props they likely already have. For example, a student creating a learning path about bicycle maintenance can use his or her own bicycle as a prop in a video. A student creating a learning path about cat grooming, can use pictures or videos of his or her own cat. The benefit here is that students can really add some of their own personalization to the content they create.
Benefits for Teachers
As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, I wish that I had access to Tract last year when my school was frequently switching between in-person, online, and hybrid classes. Creating Tract learning paths about topics related to computer science (all of my students chose to be in the class) would have been a great activity for hybrid learning. Students could create content for their learning paths on their own then check-in with me for feedback on what they were developing. Again, see this blog post for directions on the student creation process. Developing learning paths during hybrid instruction days would be a great way to smoothly transition from in-person days to hybrid days to fully online days.
Another benefit of having students create a Tract learning path is that you get to see how they organize their thoughts about a topic or process. The process of reviewing students’ learning paths provides some insight into what a student thinks is the most important part of a chosen topic and what they think is the best way to explain that topic.
Finally, even if students only use Tract to view the lessons and do the challenges created by other students, there is still a great benefit for you. That benefit is getting to see what your students are truly interested in beyond what they have to do for your class.
Give it a try before the end of the year!
Sign-up for Tract using the code BYRNE before the end of the year to enjoy free access to all of Tract’s features for you and your students.