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Important Precautions for your Track

Because TrackStar is an online tool, server functions, electrical problems, or occasionally user action may interrupt the submission of a Track. For this reason, we strongly advise Track authors to store a draft of their Track's links and annotations in a word processor file on their own computer. This prevents authors from having to recreate Track content from scratch in the rare case that a Track must be re-submitted. We know that good lessons take time to create, and we want to help you preserve your hard work.

Naming a Track and Choosing a Subject Area

Naming a Demo Track
In order to conserve server space, we like to delete demo or practice Tracks. If you create a Track just to learn how TrackStar works, or if you don't want your Track to remain online after one week, please name it "demo" so that we can remove it from the server. See the example below.

Image shows an example of Track title field with the word "demo" inside so the title reads Demo Track on Whales

Naming a Track You Want to Keep
Please enter a descriptive title for your Track. The TrackStar search engine will search titles for keywords, so please be as specific as possible when naming Tracks. For example, a Track titled "Pre-Columbian Architecture in Peru: Macchu Picchu" would be a much better title than "Architecture".

Adding a Description and Choosing a Format

Please include a brief description of your Track in this field. Describe the content, goals, objectives, and activities in your Track. Tell whether the Track is part of a greater project or a self-contained lesson, and what state standards the Track meets, if any. The most valuable and utilized Tracks are those that present material as an organized lesson rather than simply as a list of resources on a topic.
It's best if you write this and spell check it in a word processor, and then cut and paste it into this field. Teachers often decide to enter a Track by reading the description and title. Since teachers around the world use each other's Tracks, providing a good description can help people see quickly what a Track is about.
Using Keywords in Your Description
The TrackStar search engine will search Track descriptions for keywords. To speed the search, include keywords in the Keyword field provided on the TrackStar form. See keywords in the example below.

This image shows the area directly below  the Description area of the Track where you can enter keywords.  In the example the Track is called Chocolate Pudding Math and the keywords are fractions, multiplication, recipes, math, cooking.

Choosing a Format for the Track
This section of the Make a Track form is crucial to other teachers who may use your Track. If you are making a Track simply to learn how to use TrackStar, or if you don't want to keep this Track online more than one week, please click the radio button next to Demo. Click Resource list if the Track provides a list of sites to support research projects, thematic units, skills in practice, or information gathering. Click Worksheet if the Track requires students to find short factual answers in the Track's resources. If the Track supports higher order thinking skills, click Extended Learning. For an example of higher level questions, visit our Extended Learning page.

This image shows the four options, Resource, Worksheet, Extended Learning, and Demo.  The circular radio button next to Worksheet is selected.

Choosing a Subject Area and Grade Level
Select the subject area(s) and intended grade level that best reflect the content of your Track. Since people often search for Tracks using the subject and grade level categories, please choose the most fitting category. If needed, you can select more than one.


Adding Sites to Your Track

See the example below for an example of the fields in the TrackStar form. A Track is a collection of annotated links on a chosen topic. Each link in your collection needs a title, a URL (Web address), and an annotation (questions, directions, and tasks for students to complete while visiting that link), as shown in the image below.

This image shows a section of the TrackStar form where you input link title, URL, and annotations.

Complete the title, URL, and annotation information for your sites and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save. By clicking on the Save button, you submit any additions or changes you have made. These changes are stored on the TrackStar server. If you do not click on the Save button, your new Track will not be made, or changes to an old Track will not be saved.

Using HTML Tags in Your Title and Annotations

To make longer annotations, you may want to use HTML tags to format line breaks and create lists. Using HTML tags is a way to get your formatting to show on the Web. To make annotation text appear as separate paragraphs, place a <br> (break tag) or a <p> (paragraph tag) after each paragraph. The <p> leaves a larger space between paragraphs. To make several questions look more like a list, place <br> after each question. These are only two examples of using HTML tags within annotations. See the example below for an annotation that uses a <br> (break) tag:

Image of the TrackStar form with text in the annotation field. It says: "It's pudding only better!! <br>The only problem is you seem to have misplaced your cup measurer. <br> Convert all cups to tablespoons."


The above annotations would show up in your Track (without the tags) as seen below. Note how the sentences are on their own lines now.

Shows the Web version of how the sentences looks. "It's pudding only better!!" is on the first line.  "The only problem is you seem to have misplaced you cup measurer" is on the second line. "Convert all cups to tablespoons" is on the third line.

We encourage TrackStar users to use HTML that assists students in reading annotations, such as the <br> tags above, but you can also use other HTML codes such as list tags like <ol>, <ul>, and <li>, or other common formatting tags. Font formatting tags such as <b> </b> for bold, <u> </u> for underline, and <i> </i> for italics are also acceptable. We do not allow users to include images, sounds, or video HTML links in Track annotations, as their inclusion considerably slows the loading-time of Tracks. Additionally, please refrain from using HTML in TrackStar that changes the overall look of the Track format.


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