Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Tract Now Offers Guides for Project-based Learning

Disclosure: Tract is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Tract is an online platform for engaging students with fun, project-based learning activities. I’ve written about it quite a bit over the last year as it has grown in popularity. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it can be used in a variety of settings including Genius Hour and hybrid classrooms. Like all good edtech companies, Tract has listened to feedback from teachers and implemented their suggestions.

The latest update to Tract for the new school year is found in the form of project guides. Many teachers have asked for a bit more guidance on how to best utilize Tract. Tract’s response was to create comprehensive project guides for teachers.

Tract currently offers project guides for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade projects. Project guides for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are on the way. To get a better understanding of how Tract’s project guides are formatted, take a look at the project guide for Should Art Class Be Required? (link opens a Google Drive file).

Each of Tract’s project guides is curriculum-aligned and designed to help teachers easily integrate short videos from Tract’s library into fun learning activities for students. In the words of Tract’s marketing department, the goal is to “turn kids' media consumption into a launchpad for an enriching, educational experience that supports project-based learning, Genius Hour, social and emotional learning, GATE, and more.”

Get FREE access to Tract and their turnkey project guides by using the access code BYRNE at teach.tract.app

Learn more about how to use Tract by watching Tract.app - A Great Place to Find Online Enrichment Activities.

Spaces EDU Adds Easier Enrollment and Faster Sharing

Back in June Spaces announced a bunch of new features that they were working on getting ready for new school year. Those features are now available!

Faster Enrollment and Easier Activity Sharing
Nothing stops momentum in a classroom like having to go around to each student and say “click here” or respond to students saying “it won’t let me in.” That’s why Spaces has introduced new enrollment and sharing options.

There is now an option to generate QR codes for your students to scan to join your Spaces classroom account. Students simply scan a QR code and are enrolled in your class. Watch this short video to see how it works.

In Spaces you can create activities for your students. Students can view the activities by logging into Spaces. But that’s not the only way to share activities with your students. The easiest way for students to find activities is in the LMS that you’re using for your classes. Unique URLs are generated for each activity. You can post those activity URLs in your LMS. Additionally, Google Classroom users have the option to post directly to their Classrooms from their Spaces accounts. Take a look at this brief video to learn more about activity URLs and sharing.

Curriculum Standards, Goals, and Proficiency
Last fall Spaces added the option to tag student work with curriculum goals and or alignment to state standards. The best part of that for me was that Spaces made it super easy to find the standards and apply the tags to submitted work (watch my demo). Spaces is now expanding that capability to activities.

Now when you create an activity in Spaces you can tag it with the standards to which it aligns. The benefit of doing this is every artifact submission that a student makes for that activity is automatically tagged with the correct standard. This is helpful in showing students’ progress toward meeting standards. For a glimpse of a students’ view of activity completion, watch this brief video.

Speaking of progress toward meeting standards, in August Spaces will be rolling out proficiency scales. Proficiency scales will appear as color-coded labels that you can apply to your students’ submitted work in Spaces. Think of this as a quick way to tell students if their work meets a proficiency standard, needs more work, or if it exceeds expectations. Jump to the 27 second mark in this video to see Spaces proficiency standards in use.

Create a “Best of” Portfolio
One of the things that first drew me to Spaces was the ability to create individual, group, and whole class portfolios. But until now there wasn’t a way to quickly put the same submitted work into multiple portfolios. That has changed with the latest update to Spaces. Now you can quickly copy students’ work from a group or class portfolio into an individual portfolio. This makes it possible to do something like create a “best of” portfolio for students to share work that they have done in groups and done individually throughout the year.

A Few Short Lessons About Labor Day

This coming weekend is Labor Day Weekend in the United States and Canada. For most of us it is a three day weekend. It is the traditional "end of summer" in the minds of many of us. If you're planning to answer questions about Labor Day or teach any lessons about it, here are some short videos to add to your list of resources.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? is a TED-Ed Lesson about the origins of Labor Day. In addition to learning about the origin of Labor Day students can learn a bit about changes in labor regulations over time.

History of the Holidays is a series of videos from History. Each installment explains a different holiday. The Labor Day video is embedded below.

PBS Kids offers a short animated overview of the history of Labor Day. It's not nearly as detailed as the two videos I've listed above, but it's probably adequate for elementary school kids.

For more resources for teaching about Labor Day, take a look at this list compiled by Larry Ferlazzo.

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