Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Are you an "Eggspert"?

My friend has the cutest classroom management device ever! It is perfect for randomly choosing which table lines up first or gets to choose centers first etc, but it can also be used as a kind of Jeopardy answer system with up to 6 players or teams! She has this wireless version:













and her kids love it! Today the batteries ran out as it was about to choose which table could line up for lunch, and one child mournfully told her "I guess you'll have to be the Eggspert today." lol! I can see so many uses for this at every grade level.

You can use it as a motivating answering system to review math facts, science terms or spelling/vocabulary word with your whole class by dividing them into 6 teams. In the Jeopardy mode the fastest team to hit the buzzer gets to answer, or you can set it to Wheel of Fortune mode and it will choose a team to answer for you. Of course you could also use it in your small group lessons, and since you can turn the sound on and off it wouldn't be distracting to other groups. I plan to use it to review sight words in small groups tomorrow!

On another note, we are already getting hit by multiple bugs. So far we've got sore throats, runny noses, headaches, fatigue, stomach aches and today we progressed to vomiting! Most of the above is without fever, so those poor darlings have to just suck it up - although I usually let them sit in my bean bag chair if their feeling poorly but I can't send them home. What do you do with those kiddos who are clearly not feeling well but not running a fever or vomiting (our school's criteria for a phone call home)? I had one little guy who slept from 10:15 until 3:15 today - a phone call home did not get a response, and the counselor decided not to call mama's work #. I'm not sure if he wasn't feeling well or simply up all night. Some of my firsties have later bed times than I do! I wish I could video tape them to show their parents how much that lack of sleep affects them in class!

We have Open House tomorrow and I am looking for something to send home about the importance of a good night's sleep. Anyone have something ready-made? Oh, and bad mama time - it's my son's 5th birthday tomorrow and I will be working late - gotta make it up to him this weekend I guess!

If you haven't voted on Limeades for Learning today would you please consider supporting my project? Just click the link on the top right :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Limeades for Learning!

Sonic has kicked off their Limeades for Learning program! They are working with Donorschoose to fund $100,000 worth of Donorschoose projects a week. Each day through September 30th you get one free vote per registered email address. You can also get a code on every receipt that is worth 2 extra votes!  I love that change to the program - it enables those of us in poorer districts that don't have parents with computer access to still participate!

We have a Sonic only a block away from our school so I am going to be asking all of my students to bring in their Sonic receipts, this way they have some ownership in attaining funding for our new books. I seriously have students who are reading at 4th grade or above, while others are barely sounding out words. And of course, since I usually teach kindergarten, I don't have those higher level books in my classroom library. This project would get us some fiction and nonfiction books on a variety of reading levels so I keep all my smarties engaged! If you'd like to vote for my project, please click the Limeade icon on the top right of the page - it will take you directly to my project on the Limeades page :)

Sorry this is so short, my computer died so I am using my husband's while he waits impatiently lol. I am thinking of more ocean ideas - going to extend the theme through next week as well! My firsties seem to be addition whizzes, but subtraction has them flat out stumped, so I will be working on an Ocean subtraction game, look for it soon!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Math Monday!

I just adore the mermaid clipart that I got from kmpdoodles, so much so that I had to create another game with them! This time it's a math game, but it's the same rules as the cvc word sort, so it shouldn't take my kiddos very long to catch on and be able to play independently! I am really stressing number sense this year, so this game should be a perfect reinforcement.
Number Ocean Sort


Head over to love2learn2day to check out the links to more fabulous math ideas at the Math Monday linky party!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ocean Freebie!

I am doing an ocean theme this week and my fabulous firstie teammate volunteered to do the lesson plans for both of us! This left me with some free time this weekend, so I created a Mermaid CVC Sort game. I want to send a special shout out to Kirsten at kpmdoodles who makes sharing things like this so easy! Not only does she give a free set of clipart for every 2 sets you purchase, she also gives a 10% discount for teachers (just enter "teacher" in the coupon code box at checkout). Her terms of use also allow us to share out games and such for free on our blogs (in pdf format) without having to buy a license! I love sharing, but I really can't afford to pay licensing fees to give away my creations, so I will be sticking to more budget-friendly clipart sources :)  Another source is Trina over at Digiscrapkits - her stuff is super cute and you can share your creations for free!

Anyways, here's a preview of my game. As always, the preview doesn't do it justice, it looks much better when you download it I promise!
Ocean Word Family Sort


Now I'm headed to Heather at Heather's Heart to grab her free Lips the Fish Grab and Go game! I purchased the baskets and large popsicle sticks while I was out shopping today. Now I'm going to spend the rest of my evening laminating and cutting - I'm making one set for me and one set for my teamie!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do You Picnik?

I have been playing with Picnik today - it is so much fun and so easy to use!
 Here's what I've come up with so far:





I am toying with the idea of upgrading to a premium subscription. Has anyone done so? Is it worth it? How do you use Picnik for your classroom?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Behavior Management Linky Party

I don't know about you, but I am always open to suggestions for behavior management! The Lesson Plan Diva is having a linky party to share ideas for Behavior Plans and Behavior Problems, so I thought I would share what works for me. 

I am very low key about behavior - I never want someone to feel embarrassed because their bad choices are on display for everyone to see. This year I tried a clip chart with 6 levels - room to go up and down. I find however, that it has become more about moving down than moving up. Also, I have to actively think about going over and making the changes - which I forget to do until someone misbehaves - thus the mostly moving down lol. Even though it's only day 6, I think I'm going to scrap the clip chart - it's just not my style. I know tons of teachers use it successfully, but that's rule number one about behavior plans - what works for one student/teacher may not work for others!

Instead, I am going back to my 4,3,2,1 system. It works for me, and even though it's very simple, it might suit someone else as well! Students who only need 1 or 2 reminders about procedures each day are given 3's. If a student needs repeated reminders and was a distraction to learning they get a 2. Students who are so disruptive that I have to remove them from my room (rare!) get a 1. The students who are always doing the right thing or who myabe show extraordinary character (empathy, generosity etc) will get 4's (also rare, but oh so prized!)

I write the appropriate number down in each child's planner at the end of the day. This is not a visual system, so no one is embarrassed by having a reminder hung up for all to see. Instead I give them a verbal warning and if that is ignored then I inform them of their number change. For students on 3's, I write their number and a smiley face, students on 2's or 1's get their number and a brief explanation, as do students on 4's. This takes me maybe 15 minutes at the end of the day, while the class is cleaning up and getting backpacks. If a students receives a 3 or above 4 days out of 5 then he earns a trip to the treasure box on Fridays. I allow one day of "bad" behavior, because we all have an off day now and then. My treasure box prizes are Dollar Store purchases like balloons, lollipops, plastic animals, rings etc. Not expensive, but a big incentive for my kinders!

Finally, I found a great solution for my problem with punch cards. You know those great little cards that you hole punch to reward a student for good behavior? We use them for our school wide currency, but keeping up with them has always been a pain for me. I'm short on wall space, so it's hard to justify giving up what little space I have to hang a posterboard with library envelopes for the punch cards. I also don't want to put them in a binder - too out of sight, out of mind for me. However, regardless of where I keep them, I am really bad at remembering to punch them. And let's face it, punching a card an hour later for good behavior is not really a great motivator.

Enter my teaching-fairy-godmother with a simple but ingenious solution! She wears a lanyard around her neck with a Stop/Go sign. If the "stop" sign is facing out, it signals that her students may not disturb her except for emergencies (used during testing or small group instruction mostly). If the Go side is out then it's business as usual. Well, behind the sign she has a little stack of the punch cards hung on a ring attached to the lanyard! Now the cardes are always at hand for instant reinforcement of good behavior, no wall space is wasted and there's no chance to lose a card!

I am definitely making one of these this weekend!

Make sure you head over to The Lesson Plan Diva and link up to find more behavior management ideas!

Free for All Friday

Today is Free for All Friday over at Blog Hoppin'. Check out all the great freebies! I've had a lot of fun linking up all week, can't wait to see what's in store in the future!

In class I have been struggling to stay afloat this week as I adjust to life in first grade, and one thing that saved me was all of the Pete the Cat goodies I have found on every one's blogs. I decided to make a quick math station game to go along with the books since my firsties really loved Pete!

This is just a simple printable dice and graph set, but once my kiddos learn how to use this format they can do it on their own at our math station. I make a lot of these sets because it's a popular activity with my kiddos, and it keeps the math station fresh when I can change the activity to match our theme but still have a familiar format.  I posted this one earlier in the week so if you already grabbed it I apologize for the repeat:


Note: for some reason the previews don't show up properly, I promise if you download and print them they look just fine :)
Pete the Cat Dice


Next week we are doing an Ocean theme - my teammate is doing our lesson plans (I love her!) so I made this set for us

Ocean


I can't wait to see all the great freebies from every one else, so make sure you head over to Blog Hoppin' to link up!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three for Thursday

Blog Hoppin

I'm Blog Hoppin' again! Today the topic is Three for Thursday: your favorite font, blog and online resource:

My favorite fonts are:


"How Cute" - free to download!



Babysitter - also free!


"A Year Without Rain" - also free!

Hmm seeing a theme yet? If it's free and resembles standard block printing then I'm using it! If I'm making a worksheet for my kids then I just use Comic Sans. I don't like to confuse them with too many different ways to write their letters before they've learned the basics! Our district mandates Standard Block print rather than D'Neilian btw.

 

My favorite blogs are:
I couldn't pick just one and all of these share great ideas and give a lot of FREEBIES!

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class

First Grade Factory

First Grade O.W.L.s


Mrs. Wills Kindergarten



My favorite online resource:

This one is tough, of course there's Pinterest, but honestly I haven't totally gotten into it yet, my DIY gene sort of wars with my impatience gene, so my crafts usually don't come out half as cute as I want them too - although I did do these clipboards and crates over the summer and was proud of myself!

I think my most favorite resource though is Mr. Harry Kindergarten's Youtube channel. He has great songs! I use his videos on my smartboard for both math and language arts. You name the skill and he has a video that goes with it! Here are 2 of my favorites:






That's it for today, can't wait to see what tomorrow's topic is! AND of course it's Friday - and I am really looking forward to this week being over! I need the weekend to sit down and figure out how I'm going to handle differentiating - I have a handful of kiddos reading at 3rd grade and up, a handful who are right on track and then more who are either slightly behind or totally behind. Math is just as varied. AND our budget is on hold again (scores are being relooked at before the money is allocated) so we may not even get tutors this year. If we don't, some of my kiddos are going to need a LOT of one on one or very small group work from me!


Don't forget to

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Classroom Pet!


 Shhh, don't tell the principal!




 My kindergarten friend found this little guy in amongst her 27 kiddos and captured him in a pencil box. I promptly volunteered to take him into my classroom! He is a Common House Gecko, originally from Asia but now common to the southern half of the U.S. due to hitchhiking on ships.

We made a temporary home for him in this small Kritter Keeper. My firsties were fascinated with him. We talked about how to learn about how to care for him (one darling said "go to lizards.com on the computer" lol, so I tried it at home and it's actually a good site for lizard care!).  And, since he was in the school anyways, it's not really like he's a pet - this is more like I'm just keeping him where we can see him rather than letting him wander the school at will. Do you think that excuse will fly?!

 My son actually loves lizards, and wants to take him home, so after a few weeks he will probably make the transition to full time Knopf family pet, but in the meantime he is keeping my firsties engaged! Tomorrow I am going to try to put him under the document camera so we can observe him up close - let's see what kind of writing I can get out of my firsties then!

Monday, August 22, 2011

1st Grade Giggles

As a (temporary) 1st grade teacher, I am finding myself stifling giggles several times a day. It usually occurs in the hallway, while I watch the frazzled kindergarten teachers try to ride herd on 27 brand spanking new students while I file past with my 18 seasoned firsties. As my students line up to dump our trays in an orderly fashion, I have to hide my grin as the kindergartners dump their forks in the trash 9 times out of 10.

Walking in a line? A concept never before heard of by those 4 and 5 year old cuties. They straggle behind, stretching the line across the entire primary wing, touching walls, twirling and skipping. Meanwhile, I just have to say "Show me procedure." to get my firsties into a line a drill sergeant would be proud of!

As my fellow teachers get accused of "ignoring" one child in a class of 27 (what?! my child isn't getting your one on one attention?! what kind of teacher are you?!) I have spent one on one time with all my firsties today - be it only for a minute or two at a time. I know all of their names, and have a good idea of their personalities - who to sit them next to and who to separate them from! (not a hard task since I've had 6 of them in my class before ;)

The first kindergarten writing samples look like Rorschach ink blots while my firsties produce actual sentences with punctuation!!! Cutting and gluing in kindergarten? A nightmare with 6 kids squished into tables designed for 4! My firsties are swimming in room - we have empty seats at 2 of our tables! Indoor recess (due to heat index) is impossible with 27 squirming little bodies crammed into a space more suited to 20. Meanwhile my firsties were doing puzzles, reading (while seated on my oh so comfy crates!) and building with blocks. Two of my students even created a petting zoo for the farm animal math manipulatives, to which they charged admission from the interlocking gingerbread kids!

My kindergarten friend said "I don't remember last year being this hard." to which I replied "Do you even remember the first 2 weeks of school last year? Of course not, it's the teacher equivalent of giving birth. If we remembered it we'd never do it again!" After school I watched as my other kindergarten friend ate a handful of Hershey's kisses in a vain attempt to artificially boost her serotonin levels to deal with the stress of 25 high pitched voices, all chiming "Teacher! Teacher!" at once! Meanwhile I was able to survive on just 1/2 a  Diet Pepsi today - no real need for it as I relaxed my day away with my attentive firsties (they can sit through an entire story!)

In short, my 2nd day as a first grade teacher went surprisingly well! Which is not to say that I wouldn't switch back to kindergarten in a New York minute! We are waiting out the first 10 days of school to see where the final numbers fall. Part of me would hate to lose my fabulous firsties, but the other part longs for those tiny kinder kiddos, so full of curiosity and enthusiasm. And, of course, the hard part of breaking in all those kinders will be done for me if I do get moved back! I am torn between hoping for more kinders to show up tomorrow, and hoping that they don't just so I can stay in first this year! I guess I will stop caring either way, and just try not to seem too happy when I pass my kindergarten cohorts in the halls!

Meet the Teacher Monday

I'm excited to be linking up over at Blog Hoppin' today for Meet the Teacher Monday!
My husband and I. Our 13th anniversary is on Sept 5th!

My oldest and youngest :)


My two middle children :) (the red hair was a total surprise btw)

Tell us a little something about you...I started my teaching career late in life - after a stint in the Army and several starts and stops along my degree path. I have always wanted to be a teacher, it just took me a while to get here! My husband is still in the U.S. Army and we have 4 beautiful kiddos together. We've lived in Texas, California, Germany and now Oklahoma. My favorite hobbies are reading and watching tv while cutting out lamination.

How long have you been teaching?
This is my 3rd year teaching. After 2 years in kindergarten I got "promoted" (as my husband puts it!)  to first grade with less than a days notice! Our first day was not much fun (from my point of view, I think I played it off to the kids pretty well). I felt inadequate and still do, I need about 2 months to prepare for this! It helps that I have some former students in my class - they are the oasis in my sea of misery lol!(mixed metaphor much?!)  I am sure I'll adjust - I just have to blog stalk more 1st grade teachers!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?
Writing! I think that will be my saving grace this year. I love, love, love to teach writing. And, let's face it, most kinders don't really excel at it. While I love to see my little kinders attempts, I am really looking forward to sentences that actually make sense and have something to do with the topic! I think it is also fabulous that all 3 of my boys are now attending my school, it is so much fun to see them throughout the day and see how they are doing. My youngest snuck out of his classroom for a quick hug and kiss on Friday - of course I had a talk with him about it, but there's that little part of me that loved it lol! BTW, he's probably the most popular kinder kiddo this year since he hung out with my class several times and I always talked about "Baby Joshua" to them. Can you tell I'm not quite ready for him to grow up yet?

What do you need to improve?
The list would be shorter if I only listed what I didn't need to improve! In kinder we didn't have to keep weekly grades, so that will be a challenge for me this year. Organization and filing skills are also in desperate need of help. Procrastination is my worst enemy and my best source of inspiration. I also need to learn to balance home and school. My own kiddos get the short end of the stick sometimes because I wear myself out on school stuff.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?
My Smartboard, cd player and Diet Pepsi. The Smartboard for obvious reasons (who doesn't love them?!). My cd player because if all else fails, putting on music works every time! I ran out of material on Friday and threw in a Dr. Jean cd for a rousing rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" - my kiddos ate it up lol. As for the Diet Pepsi, it is going to be even more important this year I can tell! I made an emergency run to the vending machine Friday afternoon and nearly had a heart attack when I found it was out of order and it will be weeks before it is fixed! So I have to bring my own - which is hard to remember when getting 4 kids and myself ready for school in the morning!

Alright, that's it from me, head on over to Blog Hoppin' to link up. I can't wait to read more about you!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Most Wonderful time of The Year Linky Party

Cluuter-Free Classrooms is having a linky party about why you love the Back-to-School season. She's even linked up that funny (to adults!) Staples commercial with the Dad singing as he shops for school supplies! This is one of my favorite times of year, and not just because the Oklahoma heat (triple digit temperatures for 2 months!) is keeping everyone inside with a raging case of cabin fever! Here's my list:

1.  There is nothing like opening a brand new box of crayons and dumping it into a sparkling clean caddy. I actually got a chill when I dumped them in, and I had to take a picture! Let's hope that this year no one colors ON the caddy!

2.  Scholastic Book Order forms! I love getting the September catalog and seeing the new books and specials for the school year! This year Scholastic is combining orders over all the catalogs for bonus points so I am extra excited!

3. Everything that was old and boring is new and fun again! Including me! Suddenly I'm a teacher-goddess again as my new students are in awe of me lol.

4.  The kindergarten students look so tiny at the beginning of the year! It is amazing how much they grow by May!

5.  Seeing all my lovelies from last year again – it is amazing how a summer break makes me miss those kiddos so much – even the one that was making me pull my hair out in May!
    <>Alright, run over to Clutter-Free Classrooms and link up now, I want to read why this is your favorite time of year!


This and That (Pete the Cat freebie)

I just had to share a few things with you all this morning. Mrs. Patton shared about using Voki technology in the classroom and I had to try it. Here's my little chipmunk for my class, I think they'll love it!


Also, my friend tried out a "Two Headed Monster Clean Up" idea and I had to take pictures a) because it was so funny and b) because my baby is in her class! The premise is to take some huge xxxl shirts and stick 2 kinder students in each one. They then have to work cooperatively to get the cleaning done. There was a lot of falling down (that's my boy in the orange shirt on the floor in most of the pictures) but my friend is convinced that with practice this can be done - it sure was fun for the kids!




Finally, just a few notes from the first day of school:

One of my students from last year threw a fit in the morning, refused to get off the bus, punched the principal in the stomach, took off his shoes and socks and threw them etc. The counselor came down to my room and asked if I could go up the hall to see him and she'd watch the rest of my firsties. Well I walk up to see him on the bench, the principal poised to keep him from bolting or flailing and the bus driver trying to talk to him. He was obviously having none of it. I knelt down, and said "Hey remember me? It's Mrs. Knopf, you're coming back to my class again. Let's go!" and picked him up in my arms. The prinicipal asked if she should come down to my class, but I told her it'd be fine and IT WAS!

Once I got him to my room it took about 40 minutes for him to stop crying and actually put his shoes back on, but at after that he READ A BOOK and TALKED to me! Now, with you not knowing this child you have no idea how huge this is, but trust me, I was amazed. He called me by name and he gave eye contact! At lunch time he even volunteered to eat and got his own tray! He wouldn't sit at a table or do any work, but when we made our Jitter Juice he asked to try it! He even did some dancing with us! I am still going to have him tested because he has lots of issues, but I was so pleased to see that he is going to be much easier to work with this year!

Another first day treat was having my youngest across the hallway from me! His teacher has taught him to give me a thumbs up and mouth "Thumbs up Mama!" when he sees me in the hallway, it is too cute! I caught him one time looking in my room from the hallway and showing me off to one of his friends "That's my mom!" lol.

The funniest part happened in the afternoon. His teacher sent him to my room to ask me for something. He has a speech impediment, so to me it sounded like he was asking for a "back soapy". I tried getting him to repeat himself but it wasn't any clearer. I asked if she was washing something and he said "No, a back soapy for writing!" Ohhh! A black sharpie! Maybe he wasn't the best choice of children to come ask for something lol!

A little while later he marched back in the room, came up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss and I asked him what his teacher needed. "Nothing." he said, and walked back out of the room. After school I asked if that had been a sanctioned visit and his teacher admitted that it was not. The first she knew of it was when he was walking back in the room lol. I had to give him a little talk about not leaving his class without the teacher's permission!

Finally, a quick freebie. I have been printing off all the Pete the Cat materials I can from everyone's blogs and decided to make a quick roll the dice math activity to go with. Click here to grab it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

My giveaway for Sunbasilgarden soap has come to an end. And the winner is:


True Random Number Generator
2
19

17
Powered by RANDOM.ORG





17 Meredith said...



Those soaps are darling! I follow your blog.
~Meredith
Keen on Kindergarten

Classroom Pictures!!

Well, I survived my first day as a 1st grade teacher! I am not changing my blog title yet though as there is still a chance that I will get switched back to kindergarten. So far our kindergarten classes are at 26 and 25 students,if we get more next week (which we almost always do) then we will be authorized a 3rd class again! Although, I am getting attached to my firsties, I have had 6 of them in class before!
Here are some pictures of my classroom - the only thing I did to change it from kindergarten to 1st grade was to take out my housekeeping center. I figured I could bump everything else up a notch to make it 1st grade appropriate.


My calendar area at the front of the class.

My listening center, with my theme words on the left. Not sure what to put on the apple tree yet.


My Vistaprint banner! Sorry about the lighting, it's much better in person!


Vistaprint car magnet for on my magnetic wall.

My magnetic Word Work Wall. There's a box of alphabet letters on the chair to use on the board.


My reading center. The little table was from my housekeeping center, but I figured they could read at it instead :)


Science center - I haven't added the hermit crabs or the frogs yet, they're still hanging out at my house for the weekend :P


The tree my "teaching-fairy godmother" gifted me with! I LOVE it! I had all of the owls displayed at our front door for our Back to School night. As the students entered they had to find their owl and come place it on the tree. This helped me keep track of who attended and also gave them a sense of ownership in the room.


My computer center - don't you love the chairs? They are great for students with ADHD or even those who just seem to have trouble keeping track of their bodies (the ones who fall out of their chairs 5 times a day!) The desk and chairs were Donorschoose funded items and the computers were donated by a unit on       Fort Sill!


My sink area. That's my sand & water table in the corner. It will be used for a lot more science related things this year, but I didn't have the heart to take it out entirely lol.


The view from my carpet area. That's my desk in the back left, I keep my area small because a) there's not a lot of room in my class for a big teacher area and b) my stuff seems to grow to fit the size allocated to it. If I have a small space it stays neater and more organized than a big space does!


The caddies on my tables. We do community supplies rather than individual because I end up buying 90% of the supplies anyways lol. I let the kids read the books whenever they have a minute between task, and the caddy keeps all our daily-used items handy too. I got these caddies at Walmart - when I bought them 2 years ago they came in all sorts of colors. When I saw them this year they only had blue, red, grey and black, but for less than $3 I think these are a steal. Note to self, peel off the sticker on Monday!


Two friends working. They were filling out a survey about each other and drawing a picture of their new friend. I love how they chose to come sit on my crates while they worked!

Alright, I am off to blogstalk all the 1st grade blogs I can find now. And I really wish I had printed out that great set of reading strategies I ran across last week because now I can't remember which blog it was on. It had animals for each strategy. I remember "Eagle Eye" and a frog to hop over words. Know what I'm talking about? Please let me know, I think those will be great for my firsties now!

Here are four wonderful resources for classroom pictures: TBA's Classroom Photos Party, a classroom photo linky party @ Curls and a Smile, and "What's Your Room Look Like?" at Empowering Little Learners and  Where it all goes down Wednesday at Blog Hoppin'! Hop over to all 4 to find some great ideas for your room! I love to look at everyone's pictures!

Blog Hoppin

I'm also linking this up to Dragonflies in First for her classroom views linky party. To check out how I changed my classroom tree for the fall, check out this post.
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