I recently learned about a new website called Tract, and I am excited….I’m really, REALLY excited! Curious about the name, I looked up the word Tract and found this definition:
Tract: an area of indefinite extent, typically a large one.
Oooh, that sounds like a fun place where I’d want to play and learn! That’s exactly what Tract is – and you’re going to want to fully embrace this one, my friends. Below, I’ve laid out the What, Why, Who, When, Where, and How for you.
Tract is an online play-to-learn hub where students can choose what they want to learn and then pursue that interest in SUCH a cool way! There are a WIDE range of videos presented almost in a TikTok fashion (mega-engaging) that are instructional but also fun and playful ~ and they’re made by trendy Tract users and creators! Students can peruse the vast library of choices by scrolling through cool video thumbnails until they find something that sparks their interest! There’s everything from math, science, and music to things like Minecraft, meditation, creative art, cooking, culture, gaming…and SO much more! The whole library of “learning paths”, as Tract calls these videos, is searchable by category, grade level, subject area…and even by hashtag! #KidsLoveThat
Each learning path has a set of missions – presented as video-based mini-lessons with actionable tasks to do each step along the way. But they’re COOL videos with COOL challenges that kids LIKE doing – so the learning is not only choice-based and chunked, but it’s also highly motivating! It’s like Project Based Learning with a cherry on top! 🍒
But wait – there’s more! Two more things that really impress me about how Tract has their finger on the pulse of what kids want are that they’ve built in a social component AND gamified it with prizes.
YES – Tract made sure that they made learning social! Students can interact via chat with other students who are working on the same learning paths. They can ask questions of the Tract creators at any time…there’s an “ask question” button at the top of every path. Anyone who views submissions can comment, drop a GIF, and even give an award! Kids love getting feedback from the creators themselves, and also from other students from all over the WORLD!
As far as the gamification aspect, the site says, “Students earn Coins for completing challenges and earning project awards, which can be redeemed here for real-world donations, as well as select digital/physical goods. Students earn the most Coins by earning awards for their original projects from Tract Creators as well as their teachers and peers, placing emphasis on quality and creativity over speed.” We teachers 💖 that, but what absolutely touched my heart and made me say “Awwwwwwwww” out loud, was WHAT most of these prizes are – take a look! (You just said Awwwwwwww, too, didn’t you?) 🌍💖
Oh my gosh – Tract just fills such a NEED right now! We teachers all know what’s so important in education….especially since the pandemic reframed some priorities for us. Here are some of the biggies that Tract absolutely NAILS:
- Student voice and choice
- Self-paced – kids set the pace and progress at their own rate
- Social and emotional learning
- Non-traditional ways to do learning
- All kinds of assessments – assessments can even be fun!
- Meet learners where they are with high-interest, engaging content
- Chunked content – attention spans have changed
- Gamify whenever you can….kids love to “level up”
- Teaching digital citizenship/good online behavior is critical
- Share artifacts of learning OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM WALLS – get kids interacting globally and feeling proud about showcasing accomplishments
- Teach the importance of giving back and doing good (I adore the fact that coins earned in Tract are “cashed in” for global goodness!)
It’s safe. I know you’re wondering. I asked, too, and I loved what I learned. Tract literally has designated staff monitoring the site 24/7 – every comment, every submission! Students join your class with your join code, and they don’t have to use their real name on the site. Tract has created an online environment where it’s safe to learn socially. They even wrote a blog post about it. Teachers, you have a class dashboard so you can quickly and easily check in to see what all of your students are doing, saying, and learning!
For all students, but I think it’s probably most appropriate for grades 3 and up. There are tons of fun topics that REALLY engage students, so every student is bound to find something that interests them!
Oh my gosh – anytime! That’s the beauty of Tract. It would be fun to start in school and in the classroom if you have time to fit in a “Genius Hour” or “20% Time” block. If there’s no time in your school schedule, consider this: Tract would be SUCH a cool after-school club! Students who want to participate in-person could stay after school, but even kids who just want to participate remotely would be able to be part of the Tract Club from home! When I spoke with Michelle from Tract, she said that it’s quite common to see kids posting, consuming, and creating learning content on Friday nights….even past their bedtimes! 😲
Anywhere! In the classroom, as an afterschool club, and even for other clubs like Scouts , Youth Groups, or 4-H. The fact that Tract lessons and activities can be done while together in a room or completely remotely makes it perfect for every kind of learner!
Just go to Teach.Tract.app and set up your free account. At the bottom of the form, enter the access code KathiK.
If you happen to be the first educator from your school who signs up, the team at Tract will review your information and shortly thereafter send you an email with login instructions.
From your educator dashboard, you’ll be able to:
- manage your classes (yup, you can make MANY classes!)
- explore learning paths, your students’ projects, clubs, and even the creators
- view all of the prize options
- receive coins, which you can use to award your students!
- find your educator join code (or a link with which you can invite students)
- contact the team at Tract if you have questions
Once you’ve set up your classroom, have your students go to https://tract.app/get-started/kid and enter your classroom code (or use the link you give them) They then are prompted to create a username and password. (I’m always a big fan of first name, last initial or some clever way that makes it easy for you to know which username goes with which student.)
Once students are signed in, they can start searching through the MEGA-list of learning paths! I promised myself I wasn’t going to post more than 2 screenshots of this, but I had trouble even stopping at 3….the list just goes on and on! There’s such a tremendous diversity of content!
Once they choose a learning path, they just get started! They’ll find a video topic that gets them excited and lets them know approximately how long the mission will take, what supplies they might need, etc.
When they finish missions and click submit, it’s all visible to the teacher and posted to the Tract gallery to share with the world! Classmates and other Tract users can see their content, react, and offer comments/feedback.
Want To Know More?
🎬I also always really appreciate a quick video tutorial. Ari Memar, the CEO and co-founder of Tract, made this one that I just love and it’s only 5 minutes long. It’s a great video to share with your colleagues, too!
📖Oh, and at the top of your screen there’s always a little book icon that includes a Quick Help Guide – full of segmented info so you can find JUST what you need when you need it!
Now that you know all about Tract, I’ll leave you again with that definition, and I think we all know why Tract chose the perfect name!
Tract: an area of indefinite extent, typically a large one.