Learning Through Content Creation
Tract Launches Free Standards-Aligned Project Guides for Teachers, Sets December 'Tract-a-thon' Symposium to Feature Students' Best Work
- By Kristal Kuykendall
Tract, a digital platform where kids teach kids through multimedia they can also create themselves, today unveiled new standards-aligned, project-based lesson guides for teachers in five subjects: Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Art — all products of collaboration by subject-matter experts, educators, students, and influencers.
To celebrate its second school year and “provide greater relief to overworked educators,” Tract also announced it will remain free for educators, and the company announced plans for its first “Tract-a-thon” Symposium on December 9.
Tract allows students to learn, create, share, and teach through video on the platform, which is moderated by Tract employees. Teachers can assign projects, and students’ work is reviewed by Tract moderators before it is posted, co-founder and CEO Ari Memar told THE Journal in a demo and video interview.
Students can also get help from Tract moderators or other students on the platform, depending on the privacy settings set by their teacher. Student-created projects, once reviewed by moderators and posted, can be shared with only other users at their school, shared with all authenticated teachers and students using Tract, or shared publicly and visible to internet search engines, Memar said.
“We review every single sign-up; they have to be a verified teacher to access the community,” he said. “Teachers aren’t expected to review anything that the students make — our staff’s emphasis is on relationship-building or suggesting improvements to a student’s work, and minimizing the educator workload.”
Tract integrates with Google, Clever, and Microsoft for identity and single sign-on functions, so it requires no additional usernames or passwords, Memar said.
“The platform also integrates with Google Classroom so teachers can directly import their student lists and generate accounts, and we also support CSV roster imports,” he said. “We are in the process of adding deeper integrations with more LMS and SIS systems.”
Memar demonstrated a sample "project" or lesson on color psychology and graphic design, and how businesses use color psychology in their marketing and branding:
In its first year, more than 30,000 students and teachers joined the startup platform, posting over 5,000 lessons that resulted in over 100,000 projects, Memar said. Its membership includes students and teachers from almost every state in the country as well as a small but growing list of classrooms from 20 other countries, he said.
Thanks to a new round of seed funding from NEA, Moving Capital, Dan Rosensweig of Chegg, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Tract has committed to remaining free for educators and students, the company said today. Tract, which has no paid tier or subscription, was founded in 2020 by California Teacher of the Year and best-selling author Esther Wojcicki alongside Memar, her former student and former Uber executive.
Also unveiled today are plans for a new virtual event set for this December. The Tract-a-thon symposium will feature several kid-friendly influencers and reward student projects completed throughout the fall.
“To further elevate the student creations throughout the semester, Tract will be joined by Malala Yousafzai, Art by Joudy, Always Alyssa, The Galactic Gal, Will Levis, Jahkori Hall, and Carissa Cabrera on Friday, December 9, for the first-ever Tract-a-thon: an interactive, virtual event that amplifies student work through an authentic global audience, and presents special awards, guests, and prizes. Teachers will be provided with free resources like in-class signage, certificates, and peer review templates, so they can host their own in-classroom symposiums.”
Memar said Tract’s emphasis on “content creation” uses the popularity of social media trends to engage and motivate students in the classroom.
“The #1 thing kids want to be is a YouTube or TikTok creator. They aspire to be creators because they want to be creative, famous, and teach,” he explained. “Combining the fun, creative process of making videos with research-backed educational paradigms, like project-based learning and peer instruction, can help every teacher improve the outcomes for their students, while saving time lesson planning.”
Teachers can learn more and set up a free classroom account at teach.tract.app. A sign-up code is not required, Memar said, but teachers can enter “THEJOURNAL” as their code if they wish to indicate where they heard about the platform.
Learn more at Tract.app.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].