As educators, we must strive to place students at the center of the learning experience, encourage them to learn through a lens of interest, and enjoy opportunities to pursue their passions. However, inviting students to choose their learning “path” in the classroom may feel daunting. How do we support students in identifying something they are passionate or curious about and provide the resources necessary to facilitate their learning?
Tract is an online community where students can share their knowledge, learn from one another, and connect with others interested in similar topics or activities. Tract offers students the tools and support needed to create dynamic learning experiences for one another.
Students as Creators
As part of the Tract community, students can select a topic and create their learning path on that topic. They are encouraged to identify a topic of interest and create a dynamic learning experience around their content. There is even a learning path designed to help them develop their content. It walks them through a series of learning activities designed to help them become effective creators of content and includes the following challenges:
- Identify your topic
- Research your topic
- Outline your learning path
- Create your challenges to drive deeper thinking
- Write your script
- Record and edit
- Present and publish
As any teacher can attest, creating a learning path demands critical thinking, careful planning, research, intentional sequencing, and the production or curation of resources to guide the experience. Designing learning experiences also reinforces and strengthens our understanding of topics. Tract provides students with a platform to create and share learning paths that combine short TikTok-like videos with fun challenges.
Students Choose Their Learning Paths
Students can select a learning path on Tract that appeals to them. For example, students who want to hone their public speaking skills can choose the learning path titled “Give a Speech Like President Obama.” They watch a short video written and produced by a student and self-pace through the learning path.
The learning path has a preview of the content, identifies the level of rigor (e.g., medium), and provides a category. Then the learner can preview the path to see if this is a learning experience they want to pursue. In the screencast below, you can see the learning sequence that walks students through the process of giving a speech. The path combines video instruction on writing and delivering a powerful speech and culminates in the students publishing their own speeches on a topic of their choice.
Teachers looking to support students in pursuing passion projects or making the most of genius hour can leverage Tract to ensure that those student-centered learning experiences are rich and rewarding. Additionally, many of the skills required by content creators require that students apply skills many of us are required to teach, including reading, writing, research, speaking, and listening. Students are more likely to be interested in honing their research and writing skills to create content on a topic of their choice. Similarly, students learning will be more engaged if they have the agency to decide what they want to learn!
Teachers can try Tract for free this year at teach.tract.app! Just click “Request access” and enter the code CATLIN. I’d love to hear about the amazing things your students create!