Ways to Use Tract.App in Your Classroom!

Sunday, January 16, 2022 No comments

 


Over the past couple of months, you’ve heard me talking about my favorite new classroom tech tool Tract.App. If you haven’t tried it out, now is the time. 2022 is the PERFECT time to try something new in your classroom. Back in October, I explained just exactly how you can use Tract in your classroom and in November I explained how easy it is to get yourself AND your kiddos signed up on the website. Once you get everyone signed up and logged in, I have a great overview of the tracts your students can choose from here. Once your kiddos start exploring the Tract website, you will learn that it is easy to navigate and they will catch on quickly. 


There are so many different ways you can use Tract.App in your classroom. This month I am going to highlight a couple of my favorite ways I suggest to get your students engaged with Tract this month. Three big ways are: project-based learning, genius hour, and by getting students to create their own classes on Tract.

Ways to use Tract in your classroom:


  • Project-Based Learning - Project-based learning allows students to develop not only intellectually but also emotionally. Project-based learning allows students to solve problems, gain useful knowledge and tackle real-world scenarios. Tract makes Project-based learning SO easy. Using Tract students can easily build 21st century skills through any Tract that they find interesting. 

 

  • Genius Hour - Genius hour is inquiry-based, student-directed learning. It gives students the chance to explore their own unique interests in a structured way. I love genius hour because students are able to be in control of what they are learning and Tract allows them to do just that. Students can choose a tract based on a real-world scenario they are interested in whether it be cooking, singing, art, or technology. If you are new to genius hour and worried about fitting it into your schedule, I suggest implementing it simply 20 minutes a week to start with. When you see students motivated to learn and creatively engage in new challenges, you will quickly find a way to add more time if possible.

  • Create Classes on Tract - This is one of my FAVORITE ways to use Tract in your classroom because it is led BY students FOR students. Oftentimes in the classroom when students are having trouble with a concept or skill I will pair them with a friend who is proficient in that standard. Upon hearing the content and working through it with a friend, students are often able to successfully tackle the standard. Tract takes this learning process to a whole new level. Now with Tract, students can create their own learning paths about skills and passions they are knowledgeable about. Creating a learning path allows the creator to build 21st century skills, foster presentation skills, and conduct peer-to-peer learning. Every student wants to be the next TikTok or YouTube star, and Tract allows them to create a fun, educational experience for other students in a controlled environment. Head over to Tract’s Creator Academy which includes tons of classes to help students level up their creator skills, like how to outline, how to edit, how to make content engaging, etc. 


Have you tried out Tract Learning yet? Let me know your thoughts and how you are using it in your own classroom! I’d love to hear it!


Tract.app: Learning Paths and How They Work!

Saturday, December 18, 2021 No comments
Have you checked out Tract yet? If you haven’t you are missing out! I have spent the last couple of months giving you ALL the inside scoop on this new, incredible website. Back in October, I explained just exactly how you can use Tract in your classroom and in November I explained how easy it is to get yourself AND your kiddos signed up on the website. If you haven’t signed up yet, I suggest you go back to the two previous blog posts to get the full scoop before reading this month’s blog. Tract has free sign ups for teachers until the end of the year so make sure you get signed up ASAP. ​​Simply go to teach.tract.app and use the access code MSSMITH to pilot Tract FREE in your classroom.
If you are signed up and your kiddos are registered, then you are ready to jump in head first into the amazing website that is Tract. This month we are going to dive into Tract Learning Paths  and how they work. (This is my favorite part!!)

Tract Learning paths are on-demand, self-directed classes that combine education with new media creation to challenge kids to think deeply and take charge of their education. One of the things that amazes me so much about these learning paths is the massive variety. You can find learning paths on so many different topics from sports to drawing, to animation, to a variety of social emotional learning tracts. 


How do Tract Learning Paths work?



When students select a learning path, they will first see an overview and sometimes they can even watch a trailer. I love this because it allows students to test out the path before they dive in too deep. The overview tells students how many missions are in the path so they know just about how long the path will take them to complete. It will also tell your students supplies they need, the difficulty level, and what category it falls under.


Once students pick a learning path, they simply work through each “mission”. These missions are simple and students find them to be very easy to follow along. Throughout different missions, students will be asked to upload pictures of their work. They can upload files, videos, and even record their screen. I love that you can also click through a gallery to see work from other students. It is an incredible experience that my students have the chance to learn and collaborate with students from all over! 



Ways to use these Learning Paths in December:

We’ve already discussed how Tract can be used for Project based learning, genius hour, and social emotional learning, but have you thought about how fun and exciting this website could be for students over Christmas break? If your students are familiar with Tract and have been using it during school, I encourage you to challenge your kiddos to continue to complete Tract Learning Paths over the winter holidays! These Learning Paths are a fun way to keep students learning and growing even when they are away from school. 


Have your kiddos been given a chance to explore Tract Learning Paths yet? If so- I’d love to hear what their favorite paths have been so far. If you have any questions - let me hear those too! Happy to help!


I’ve got my Tract Membership… Now what?

Saturday, November 13, 2021 1 comment

Last month I introduced you to the COOLEST new classroom tool that you NEED in your classroom called Tract Learning. You can check out the original blog post HERE for a quick overview! I hope that you all have been exploring this cool new tool, but if  you need a little boost to get started, I’m here to help! If you haven’t signed up yet - I encourage you to do so before reading the rest of this blog post. Simply go to teach.tract.app and use the access code MSSMITH to pilot Tract FREE in your classroom.


What is Tract?

Tract is a website created to empower students to develop the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century through project-based and peer-to-peer learning in a safe and moderated environment. Tract provides students ages 8 and up with the opportunity to explore new interests and deepen existing passions through classes in a self paced kid-friendly format. 


Why use Tract?

As educators, we often try to give our kiddos choice in the classroom. Tract is a PERFECT place for that. Students are able to explore and learn through tracts that interest them. Another reason you should give Tract a try this school year is that it brings more collaboration to your classroom and helps build social-emotional learning skills. It is easy to use and will give your students incredible and authentic learning experiences. 


I’ve created an account… Now what?
Step 1: Get your kiddos signed up: Once you’ve created your teacher account, it's SO simple to get your kiddos logged in too. Simply head to the “Teach” tab at the top of the screen and click the “Add students” button. A pop up box will provide you with a link you can add to Google Classroom or email your students so that they can get signed up. 


Step 2: Let your kiddos explore: One of my favorite things about Tract Learning is how simple it is for students to use and explore. The first time your students log in, they will see a welcome message with six steps to get started. This allows your students to “get their feet wet” with Tract Learning while also learning how to use the website. I encourage you to give your students some time to explore and get started. You might choose to talk through each of these six steps as class before giving students a chance to get started. 



Step 3: Set aside time for your students to work on their Tract each week: You might choose to give your students time each day to work, it might be an early finisher activity, or you might even choose to have a Genius Hour once each week. I encourage you to be consistent with the time you give your students so that they can immerse themselves in their tract and create content and earn prizes. As a teacher, you have the ability to see what your students are working on, how many Tracts they have completed, and what they have submitted.

As you can see, Tract Learning is easy to use for both teachers and students. Don’t be nervous about the technology side of this website - your students will find it easy to use and understand. Next month we will dive deeper into what is in each Tract and I’ll share some fun ideas of how you can encourage your students to use Tract over Christmas break. Keep your students engaged in learning while they are out and they won’t even realize they are still learning… the best! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I am happy to help!


Washable Rugs + White Chicken Chili - A WINNING Combination!

Sunday, October 24, 2021 No comments

 

This is a sponsored post from Walmart. All opinions are my own.
Thank you for shopping with the commissionable links below. 

Today I meal prepped for the week by throwing the ingredients for Cream Cheese Chicken Chili in the crock pot. It is the perfect meal for the busy teacher. It's such a yummy, but simple recipe that I enjoy making each fall! It's a simple recipe to make and all you have to do is dump the ingredients into your crock pot!  Click here to grab the recipe so you can make the yummy goodness for yourself!

As the season of meal prep, baking, soups, and making messes in the kitchen arrives, I was SO excited to find out that Walmart now has washable rugs! You can use them ANYWHERE in your house, but I am so excited to add this fun blue one to my kitchen. I've been known to make a mess or two in the kitchen, but now I can just toss my rug in the wash if it gets dirty. It's a HUGE win! 


A HAUNTED Halloween Transformation

Saturday, October 23, 2021 No comments

 



The Reason: A few years ago I started replacing the CRAZINESS of Halloween with a transformation and I will NEVER go back. Halloween used to be my LEAST favorite day of the year because the kiddos are hyped on candy, pumped for the fun that night, and over energized. It often turned into a day of babysitting because you couldn't really get any real work done because of the excitement and behaviors. Now - I decorate my classroom in the spirit of Halloween and instead of craziness, you'll find my students actively engaged in rigorous learning. My favorite part is that they have NO IDEA they are actually completing school work and not "Halloween party-ing" all day! 

The Decor: Decor for this transformation is simple because I black out my windows and turn off the lights. I find that whenever I turn off the lights for a transformation it is a whole lot simpler to decorate. For this transformation I use a couple black lights that I already have from my Glow Day transformation to create a bit of a spooky mood. I also cover tables with black tablecloths and place candles (that I also have from another transformation) and spiderweb in the middle of each table. I also use the spiderweb all over my room to add to the fun! 

The Activities: This has changed over the past year since I only teach ELA now, but I am going to give you an overview of all the activities you can do in your own classroom in case you teach all of the subjects. = ) 

Activity #1 - Fear Factor Math - Do your students have the courage to reach in and find a task card for their group? For this station students simply took turns reaching in and grabbing out a math task card for their group to solve. I made two sets of task cards for each box, which allowed me to differentiate my groups. These task cards are simply computation. The looks on my kiddos faces when they reached into these boxes was THE BEST! It made the peeling of grapes that took place long after my bedtime the night before the transformation totally worth it! Ha!

What you will need to create fear factor math in your classroom:

I created four different fear factor boxes.
Intestines – Spaghetti noodles/oil
Maggots/Bugs- Overcooked rice/raisins/oil
Eyeballs – Peeled grapes/oil
Human Skin – Cooked cabbage
 (There are lots of other options online.)

You will also need four boxes to put each of these in and wet wipes and paper towels near by.

How to set up fear factor: Prepare each different type of food and place in separate plastic boxes. Cut and laminate task cards for each box and mix them into the food items. Find four boxes that can be placed on top of the plastic boxes that contain the fear factor items. I used copy paper boxes that we had lying around the school. I just used the bottom portion of the box and flipped them over on top of the plastic containers. I cut a hole just large enough for a hand in the middle of the bottom of the box (which becomes the top when flipped over).

**GRAB MATH TASK CARDS HERE. The pack includes 4th and 5th grade level task cards, along with an editable file so that you can create your own task cards and box labels in case you want to do something slightly different than what I did!


Activity #2: Bean Boozled Word Problems

For this station, students played bean boozled. To set this station up, I grabbed the bean boozle refillable packs on Amazon and printed (and laminated) the spinner off of google. I put the beans in a black bowl and positioned it in the middle of the table. Students took turns drawing task cards. Students would ALL solve the task card and discuss the answer. Once everyone had the same answer, the person who picked the task card then got to spin the bean-boozled wheel. Kiddos LOVE gross things, so they thought that this game was AMAZING!




Activity #3 - Skeleton Flingers
with Context Clues Task Cards 

This station uses Skeleton FLINGERS I found in the Target Dollar spot, but you can also find them on Amazon. Students will solve a reading task card and then fling a skeleton onto a Target to earn points for their team! Check back for photos of this station! If you can’t find flingers in your dollar spot, you could simply pair reading task cards with any Halloween themed game. =)








Activity #4 - Spooky Creative Writing 


Now that I only teach ELA - I added this writing activity last year. I created a “graveyard” area of my classroom by turning boxes into tombstones. I scattered the ghosts in the graveyard. Students retrieved a ghost from the graveyard and then used the word in a creative Halloween story. The students will be able to creatively write any spooky Halloween story they would like. Students can retrieve the ghosts in any fun way! Ideas could include using mini skeleton hands, “snot” on their faces using Vaseline and green dye (idea from Wade King), etc.