ProTeacher Community - FAQ: Participation Tips

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Participation Guidelines

How-To Demonstrations
Animated How-To Demonstrations

We have three animated how-to demonstrations to introduce visitors to the new boards! These demonstrations require Macromedia Flash Player, a free program commonly used for Internet greeting cards (see note below).

ONE (5 minutes).*

This first demonstration shows you how to get around the new boards, SEARCH for new posts, bookmark interesting discussion threads so you can find them again easily, receive email updates if you desire, and more!

TWO (6 minutes).*

This second demonstration shows you how to protect your privacy on ProTeacher. Learn what information other visitors can find out about you, and see how to change your "Profile".

THREE (8 minutes).*

This third demonstration shows you how to add a picture ("Avatar") under your name, demonstrates a title search, and shows you a neat way to quote another visitor when you reply.

(*These demonstrations require a free software called Macromedia Flash to view. This free software can be downloaded directly from the Macromedia website. This program might already be installed on your computer. If the above links work, you're all set!)

On slower Internet connections, they may take a few minutes to download, but they are well worth the wait! Once playing, you can fast forward or rewind using the slider at the bottom of the screen.

Highly recommended for all ProTeacher visitors!

Colored Pushpins
Colored Pushpins - What they Mean

Our new boards use a system of colored pushpins to alert you to new posts. At first, they might seem a little confusing, but once you get to know what they mean, itís actually quite simple.

Blue means NEW

A blue pushpin (big or small) means something NEW has been posted on that thread since your last visit.

Donít panic, Red means NEW too

Just like the blue pushpins, a red pushpin (big or small) means something new has been posted on that thread since your last visit. The only difference is that the thread is also POPULAR, because it has received __ or more replies (weíre leaving the number blank, because we still havenít decided exactly how many replies warrant a thread being considered ďpopularĒ).

Small pushpins mark your participation efforts!

A small pushpin (any color) means that you have participated in that thread. Either you have started the thread yourself, or you have posted a reply. Your participation earns you a small pushpin. Active participants will see a lot of small pushpins marking the location of their posts! The small pushpins help you keep track of which threads youíve posted in. Only you can see them! You can test this by signing out. Presto! When you sign out, your small pushpins do a disappearing act.

Small pushpins change color

The small gray pushpin will stay gray as long as no one else posts after you. The small gray pushpin will turn blue or red whenever something new is posted.

One little bug: Letís say you post a reply on a thread. You might see your small pushpin turn blue marking that thread even though it is you who have posted something new. Arg! That is a little bug in our software. It changes to gray on your next visit (unless, of course, someone else replies).

Time-based System

A final note: Letís say you visit ProTeacher at 6:30pm on Monday and visit only one board. Even though youíve visited only one board, 6:30pm Monday becomes the time and date of your last visit. So, the next time you come to ProTeacher, only threads with new posts since your 6:30pm Monday visit will be marked with blue or red pushpins. This will be true on ALL the boards, not just the one board you actually visited. This assures that only the newest things catch special attention. Unfortunately, it also means it is very easy to miss things if you donít also pay attention to the date of the last reply, and the number of replies threads have received. To catch what you've missed, you can do a search for "All New Posts" in the Search Boards menu. Search Boards, however, is only an option for signed in visitors.

Message Editors
Message Editors

The tool you type your messages in is called an Editor. There are three different Editors to choose from:

Basic Editor (simple text boxes)
Standard Editor
Enhanced editor

The Basic Editor works just like the old post/reply forms ProTeacher visitors are used to. Basic is best if you have an older computer or just like to keep life simple. The "Standard Editor" and "Enhanced editor" work more like real word processors with many more options (fonts, font sizes, colors, etc). Here is what they look like.

Basic Editor

Standard/Enhanced Editors

To change which editor you use, follow these steps:

1. sign in with your reserved User Name
2. go to your MyDesk (top left corner of the page once you sign in)
3. click on "Settings" in the menu along the left side of your MyDesk
4. go down to "Editor Type" at the very bottom of the Settings page
5. select the editor you want and press the "Save Changes" button

Try posting again. If it doesn't work for you, repeat steps 1-5 selecting a different editor. The enhanced editor might not work on older computers that have not been upgraded in some time. In that case, the basic editor is the best choice.

Posting a New Thread
Posting a New Topic

non-working sample

When you wish to start a new thread or topic, click on this button (above) to post a message.

Next, you will see a simple form to fill out. Add your name, initials, or nickname, email address (optional), a short descriptive title (see example below), and type or paste your message in the blanks provided. (click here for our Privacy Policy and tips)


Descriptive Title:

Grandparents' Day (This is a good descriptive title)
Help! I need ideas (This is NOT descriptive enough!)

Signed in visitors:
-can use an "Enhanced Editor" similar to a word processor
-can post attachments
-can BOOKMARK threads to keep track of them.
-can receive email alerts every time someone replies to their thread.

Finally, press the "Preview Message" button to see how your message will look when it is posted. If you don't like the way it looks, the preview page includes a form to make changes. Or, skip the preview option, throw caution to the wind, and simply press "Post".

Choose One Board

When posting, please only post each message on *one* board. Since many teachers, like you, visit more than one board, we don't want everyone to see the same posts wherever they go. This would become confusing and discourage teachers from visiting all the boards. Posting the same topic on more than one board is called "cross-posting". Cross-posting is a big no-no.

In general, choose the board that best fits the specificity of your post. If your post is just relevant to a certain grade level, then choose the appropriate grade level board. If your post applies to (for example) all primary teachers, then choose the primary board. Finally, if your post applies to all preK-6 teachers, then choose the BusyBoard.

Tips for Posting

If you ask a question, be specific and be sure to explain your situation and needs completely. Others might be in similar situations, and they can benefit from hearing about your experiences! Remember: sharing ideas is what these boards are all about!

By the same token, please encourage everyone to reply to your post right on the board. Asking people to email you suggestions might be very convenient for you, but it doesn't help our community grow. Remember, others are interested in reading all those responses too!

Please avoid typing in all capital letters (IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING). Also, please use standard spelling and capitalization (i think u should avoid typing like this). Posts with lower case i and u instead of I and you, tend to be ignored.

Choosing what Nickname to use

Currently, visitors are not required to register unique names. This does mean that you may choose to use different names at different times. This also means that duplicate names do occur. Visitors are encouraged to sign up for a reserved User Name.

We suggest that you look casually down the board and choose a name not already in use, and also that you add some uniqueness to the name you choose. Have fun with your nickname and use one that is somewhat anonymous yet meaningful to you. And, if a duplicate "you" appears, modify your nickname slightly to make it more distinct.

Try It Out

New visitors are welcome! Jump right in to our many discussions. Find the boards that interest you most and get involved! Discover the rewards of participation today!

Replying to Threads
Replying to Other Visitor's Topics


When you'd like to reply to someone else's message, click on one of these buttons (above). Fill out the form just as you would when posting a new message. Please make sure to include a descriptive subject.

You can copy and paste long documents such as lesson plans in the message area, but please make sure it is your own writing.

Please *do* look for opportunities to reply and be helpful! Your friendly participation will help our BusyBoard Community grow! We can't do it without you!

By the same token, we can do without sarcasm, personal attacks, or judgments about other visitors. Please avoid making negative personal remarks about other participants. Use humor wisely. We want ALL visitors and viewpoints to be welcomed and freely expressed. That means, however, we must politely accept differing opinions.

Help maintain the best discussion atmosphere by steering heated discussions in friendly, constructive directions. Please report any posts which represent unwanted personal attacks or negative judgments about other visitors.

Please let visitors have a chance to share ideas before posting a link. In all cases, please avoid "google advice"; telling visitors to simply do a web search for what they are looking for. Realize they are asking for OUR ideas, opinions and advice. We won't have good discussions if we send visitors away with a link, or by saying, in effect, "go search for it yourself".

Please do not critique other visitors' spelling, typos or punctuation. Please report posts that bother you rather than posting a critique.

Authors of books, blogs, and websites, please read our Community Rules & Policies. No advertising is permitted.

Posting Attachments
Posting Attachments

A picture says 1000 words!

One of the great advantages of signing in with a reserved User Name is the ability to view and post attachments. To protect our community from inappropriate mischief, posting of attachments is restricted to "Junior Members" and above. You'll know when you can post attachments, when you see "Junior Member" appear under your User Name when you post.

Please only post your own photos and handouts. Do not post copyrighted material. To protect the children we serve, do not post photos of children. To protect the privacy of others, do not post photos of other people. Hands, arms, and backs of heads are generally acceptable. Use your good judgment!

Ideas for photos:

  • classroom bulletin boards
  • room arrangements and decor
  • examples of student projects / assignments
  • art project examples
  • learning centers
  • your reading corner / classroom library
  • signs and displays you've made
  • examples of classroom organization and storage
  • other helpful ideas!

Photos and other attachments are a great addition to our community, but they are expensive to store and serve. For that reason, we have some file size restrictions in place. Photos with a smaller file size are appreciated! We have a simple tool called the "Shrink-o-Matic" that shrinks photos to an appropriate size for posting on ProTeacher. Your original photo is not changed. It works a little too conveniently, however; so to prevent its misuse for other purposes, it adds a small ProTeacher identifier to each resized photo.

Step-by-step instructions for posting photos and other attachments are coming soon!

Please Report Inappropriate Photos and Attachments

Despite our safeguards, inappropriate content might occasionally be posted. We need all visitors to be on the lookout for such material. Scan all downloaded files with a virus protection software before opening them. Photos and attachments that contain inappropriate content should be reported using the gray stop sign symbol under the visitor's name. Such photos will be deleted when brought to our attention (you must be signed in to see the gray stop sign symbols).

Community Watch

Community Watch

Each post contains a little gray stop sign in the bottom left corner (below the User Name). With dozens of boards and hundreds of posts, everyone's help is needed to monitor and maintain our community! We appreciate your participation and support in that effort!

Please report any commercial advertisement, off-topic, rude, or otherwise inappropriate messages to us. ProTeacher reserves the right to remove messages we feel are inconsistent with the educational mission and focus of our community

If you find an inappropriate message, please click the stop sign symbol. You'll then have an opportunity to briefly describe the problem. Please do! Taking an extra minute to describe the problem helps us understand and respond more quickly.

When an inappropriate post is reported, a ProTeacher editor or administrator will review the thread as soon as possible. Each report will be evaluated on an individual basis. We try to keep inappropriate posts off the boards without being too heavy-handed. Your help is sincerely appreciated!

(The Community Watch icon is currently only visible to signed in visitors)

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