Tract for Authentic Project-based Learning!
To create authentic and meaningful learning experiences for our students, we need to provide choices in learning. With the power of choice, students will engage more in learning while also developing essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills that will best prepare them for the future. Project based learning (PBL) is a great way to do this. A method that works well for any grade level and content area and that provides many benefits beyond learning the content area, is project-based learning.
Authentic PBL has been a great way to promote student choice as they explore areas of interest, brainstorm ways to solve a problem, or look for challenges that are impacting their community or the world. PBL promotes student-centered learning which empowers students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, fosters creativity, time management, and leadership skills to name a few. When I first got started in my own classroom, I took time to learn about the elements of authentic project-based learning and the benefits for students before diving into it with my students. PBL has become a very popular topic of discussion, especially in the past school year as we have looked for new methods and tools to provide for our students that will amplify their learning potential. I have recommended that educators use PBL especially when having to transition between in-person and virtual learning environments.
Why Tract is perfect for PBL and more!
At the end of the past school year, I found Tract. If you’re looking to try out a new platform and get started with PBL, then Tract is definitely the way to go. In project based learning, students drive their learning experiences based on inquiry or trying to identify a problem happening in their community or globally, or they choose to explore an area of interest or curiosity. As they work through their research, they develop solutions, and may find additional challenges, which helps them to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. In PBL, students explore topics that are meaningful to them which then leads to greater student engagement and content retention.
Tract is a great space that provides teachers with what they need to get started with PBL in their classroom in a way that amplifies student choice and voice in learning.
Looking through the platform, you will learn that Tract is a web-based application, which means that teachers can access it from any device. Students become the creators and through Tract they have a space to share what they are learning. Throughout the process, they have fun with the gamification aspect of Tract by earning coins and giving awards through the Tract platform. Most of the awards available are digital and are things that will benefit others.
Beyond the classroom
Besides using Tract for project-based learning, it is a great option to use as an extra activity for students to explore on their own or for a school club. It would also work well for doing genius hour with your students.
Why Tract is different
Unlike other platforms, students are in the lead and determine their path and pace.. Students can dive in and take classes that are already made and taught by students or they can choose to become the creators and design their own classes for other students to take. Teachers shift from being the sole creators of content and give students the opportunity to become leaders in the classroom and design their own learning experiences and even better, to share those experiences with others. Students can start with the 7-mission, self-directed learning path and will soon be creating and presenting their own video lessons. What I really like about each class that is available is that it gives the overview and some guiding questions, it tells you what the subject or relevant areas are and the difficulty level is included. It also tells you a little bit of information about the creator so that you know their background and experiences and when you click on the about me it also links to other classes available from this same creator. Each class has missions to work on and as students complete it then they move on to the next mission.
To get started you can use my access code RACHELLE to try out the platform. Be sure to look at some of the many examples available and the different topics available for students to choose from.
Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.
She is the author of six books including ‘n Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking, Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU, The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead, Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us and her newest book Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction is now available.