School: Mitchell Middle School

Location: Mitchell, SD

Social Studies Teacher: Michelle M.

Grade Levels: 6 - 8

Passion projects; Genius Hour; 20% Time - however your school refers to it, you likely have some version of dedicated time for students to explore their own interests and work on projects that have meaning to them - and for good reason. 20% Time has been successful in business (ultimately leading to the creation of Gmail and Google News), and equally, if not more, successful in the classroom.

However, like Mitchell Middle School social studies teacher Michelle M. can attest, passion projects can be a challenge to fit into an already busy classroom. It was when she found Tract that all of that changed.

Tacking Tract on to the Current Curriculum

What started off as a “dessert time” project - aka: a project early finishers could work on - quickly transformed into a passion project unit and regular assignment.

“Tract was really easy to implement in the classroom as a passion project unit to tack onto our current geography curriculum,” Michelle said. After her students learned about sustainability and climate action, Michelle tasked them with making a real world difference on their own by sharing just how they’d do it through their own learning paths.

“From a teacher’s perspective, it worked really well because you did all of the heavy lifting by having everything laid out - from researching and outlining, to building a script and storytelling," said Michelle.

Feedback Without the Fluff

As part of Michelle’s passion project unit, she assigned students with the task of creating their own learning paths on Tract to share their interests and ideas with others. Taking it a step further, she developed a custom feedback rubric so students can not only teach and learn from one another, but also build up their communication skills to help one another improve.

“I’ve found that if you ask students to simply provide feedback, you get a lot of fluff,” Michelle said. “By pairing this rubric with peer reviews on the learning paths they’re creating, students have something to measure against, along with clear direction on ways to improve.”

Download Michelle’s Peer Review Rubric

Making a Real-World Connection

By having her students create their own learning paths on Tract, Michelle loved how they were able to get a real-world audience that went beyond comments and likes. “They’re actually complementing one another and boosting their confidence way more than YouTube ever could,” Michelle said.

She also appreciated how they get a choice when it comes to their education and what they’re learning about, while taking passive video viewing to an active state of creating and really connecting with what they’re learning about.

“I’ve been trying to find a good way to implement a genius hour/passion project for 5 years. I’ve used FlipGrid, Google Classroom, and other tools; Tract is by far the best and easiest way to do it.”
- Michelle M., Teacher at Mitchell Middle School

Would Michelle Recommend Tract to Others?

When asked if she would share Tract with others, Michelle said absolutely, noting that she already has!

“Tract does a lot of the heavy lifting for teachers. Everything is structured and already planned. All we have to do is have the students sign in!”
- Michelle M., Teacher at Mitchell Middle School

Join the Teacher’s Lounge to download Michelle’s peer review rubric to pair with your student’s created learning paths - FREE as part of your Tract membership.