A closer look at how Tract melds creation and contribution to student learning and agency.

School has always been thought of as preparation for college and careers.

But what if it were a time when students actually started making a difference in their community? What if young people had the chance to figure out what they’re interested in, what they’re good at, and how they could start making a contribution?

These are questions I have been pondering for decades. One of the challenges in answering them is the lack of spaces available for students to make contributions, grow their community, and initiate true collaborative opportunities… but that is changing fast.

Enter Tract

Tract has created a revolutionary platform that invites students not only to consume powerful educational content that sustains their interest and fuels their passions, but to be a part of a community of creating that content.

For students and classrooms, this means on demand, project-based classes and clubs designed to spark creativity and empower learners to develop the creative and critical thinking skills needed to succeed within and beyond the classroom.

These self-directed classes for students (generally targeted for grades 3–8) can be completed at the student’s own pace and the best part…

The content and courses are taught by inspiring groups of student leaders and changemakers called Creators. Students can even earn revenue for sharing their passion and expertise with other students.

One of the unique features on the platform is called Impact-Driven Motivation.

For every class completed, learners earn Coins, which can be traded in to award other members for a job well done and to donate directly to charities aligning to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

For teachers, you are in for an equally supportive experience. Tract walks you through the onboarding process here:

Tract also supports your IT, privacy, and curriculum concerns with the resources and support you and your students need, whether you are creating a class, joining a club, or making your own content for sharing.

Most importantly, Tract has a beautiful and multifaceted mission; they seek to empower kids to take charge of their education, to discover new interests and deepen existing passions, and to sharpen 21st century skills while within the support of a classroom.

I feel their mission is best summed up by one simple yet powerful sentence: “We believe there is magic in the world and it’s our mission in life to help you discover it.”

When students are allowed to access and create content they care deeply about, they are not only more excited and engaged, but they also begin to realize their own power to catalyze change. They learn individually and collectively that the status quo can be challenged and discover they are exactly the ones being called to do that.

The possibilities for this kind of tool are vast: It could be used by students to put together customized learning paths, gather research and experience for projects and initiatives, showcase specific content expertise or a body of creative work, and/or build a portfolio for future education or career endeavors.

Teachers can gain valuable insight about students’ interests and support for students’ passions and projects. All the while building the skills and mindsets we strive for:

  • Student Agency: Students as the CEO of their own education. The teacher’s role is guiding, curating, and supporting.
  • Passion-Building: Students must find their passion in work and learning. Educators must embrace student failure and reward effort and dedication.
  • Real-World Skill and Experience: Students must produce learning projects with real-world applications and an authentic audience.
  • Deep Learning: Students must work to meet expectations and learning standards, as opposed to earning grades.
  • Technology Integration and Use: To support flexibility with learning and time in the classroom. Using blended learning is key: the best of face-to-face and online.

Magic indeed.

But, What Do Students Want?

Image Credit: Bill Ferriter (CC BY-NC-ND)

I close with this powerful image as a reminder to our biggest consideration with any new platform or technology.

We’ve reached the point where we have a lot of fantastic tools for enhancing our instruction, many of which our students don’t want or need. This is the one piece of information that comes from your knowledge of your students and your prolific vision of their future.

Do your students want to:

  • Follow their passions?
  • Explore those passions with others?
  • Learn from and be inspired by fellow students across the globe?
  • Create content that will empower and enrich the lives of other students?
  • Collaborate to change the world?

If they answer yes to any or all of these, then Tract is definitely a platform worth exploring and just may be the place the next generation of changemakers and leaders come to do the work the world so desperately needs.

Tract is providing its service free for the first 1,000 teachers using my code, ANGELA, to request access at teach.tract.app.