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What does it look like to transform STEAM activities in your classroom? Hands-on learning experiences can change the way students interact with content and the way they understand the applications of what they’ve learned. Getting hands-on with STEAM activities can help students discover new concepts instead of simply reading about them.

If you heard my conversation with physics educator Alan Bates on the Easy EdTech Podcast, then you know the power of hands-on learning in a science classroom. In the episode, we talked about the benefits of hands-on learning and how educators can prepare students for these experiences. You can listen to the full episode with our conversation by finding the Easy EdTech Podcast on your favorite podcast app (like Apple Podcasts or Spotify), clicking here to see the show notes page, or pressing play below to find out more.

Hands-On STEAM Activities

What is STEAM? STEAM is an acronym for interdisciplinary education that focuses on the intersection of science and technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. In a STEAM classroom, hands-on learning experiences can help students see connections across multiple disciplines.

To transform traditional science education into engaging STEAM activities, providing students with opportunities to get hands-on can help them learn complex concepts and skills. Instead of reading about a concept and only learning about the theory, they can directly explore new ideas and skills. These learning experiences provide students with an opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world situations.

Learn more about Arduino Education >>

STEAM Activities in Action

steam activities for kids

So you’re committed to bringing STEAM activities to your classroom. But what does this look like in action? First, we know that getting hands-on is essential for learning STEAM subjects.

If you and your school are committed to offering STEAM activities to students throughout the school year, Arduino Education has lots of options to explore. They have solutions for educators that include everything you’ll need for successful STEAM activities. This includes giving educators access to the learning content, hardware, software, and dedicated support they’ll need to make it happen.

Arduino Education supports educators with the solutions they need to feel at ease in delivering successful online and in-class STEAM lessons. I love how they have designed resources that make implementation possible for educators with a variety of levels of experience. Educators get access to guided training, resources, ideas, and tips from the Arduino community to help them launch STEAM activities in their classrooms.

Hands-On Learning with a Science Journal App

One way that Arduino Education helps educators facilitate hands-on learning experiences is with their Science Journal App. The Science Journal App is totally free and helps students gather data about the world around them using their smartphone and sensors connected to an Arduino. The Science Journal App can transform a smartphone, tablet, or even a Chromebook into a digital notebook. And it even talks to your Google account so you can sync your science experiments to Google Drive.

I really love how the Science Journal App helps students stay mobile and gather data on the go. It’s a great option if you don’t have a dedicated lab space. Or if you are integrating a science activity into an interdisciplinary experience. The app works in combination with the sensors available on your smartphone or tablet. And of course, it also works with external sensors like the Arduino MKR WiFi 1010 and the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense.

Note: Wondering what sensors are already built into your smartphone? The most commonly-available built-in mobile sensors are: compass, ambient light, magnetometer, sound intensity, and pitch.

Getting Started with STEAM Activities.

The Science Journal App gives students access to content distributed by their teacher so they can access it from anywhere. Arduino Education has lots of content ready for teachers to explore. So you can use their ready-to-go resources or your own science lesson plans. The content is aligned to NGSS, too.

If you are a science teacher, download the Arduino Science Journal App to take a look. You’ll have the option to start your free 30-day trial of the Teacher Plan to enhance your experience.

The team at Arduino Education has created a special discount code for readers of the blog. If you head to this page and use promo code MONICABURNS2022, it will give you 20% off your first purchase of Arduino Education solutions. This code is for a limited time, so make sure to check it out sooner than later.



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As you head back to school this fall, you may find that the range of student needs has grown dramatically from years past. If this is the case, you’re probably looking for the best student supports that place “just right” resources in their hands. In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at Clicker and how it can help every student writer grow this school year.

Earlier this year, I connected with the team at Crick Software and had a chance to see Clicker in action. It’s a powerful tool that can support elementary school-aged student writers as they interact with text. In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the standout features in Clicker. I’ll also share how you can get a closer look with a quick demo of this platform.

Supporting Every Student Writer

With disruptions in many school environments over the past few years, students who require additional support may have missed out on much-needed interventions. Carol Allen describes this in a spring blog post as “the next stage of coping with COVID.” I love how she emphasizes the importance of having a long-term vision for tackling big challenges, as opposed to a quick fix or reaching for something that only offers a short-term solution.

How can you ensure teachers and students have what they need to support every student writer? What can you do to address the needs that have emerged over the past few years?

Thinking long term, you’ll want to set up students for success by offering accessible and flexible support across the curriculum. Writing plays a part in every subject area. Your students can benefit from using a flexible and friendly platform for cross-curricular activities. As you take stock of what your students need to be successful this school year and beyond, Clicker is a dynamic platform and excellent option.

Support for Student Writers

Clicker and Your Student Writer

Clicker provides students with a word processing experience designed with students in mind. It has realistic speech feedback, a talking spell checker, and a word predictor, too. As you work with students this school year and identify who needs additional support, you can give students access to special tools like Word Banks. This feature sets students up for success as writers. It gives them quick access to words they can use to build sentences.

Although there are lots of features that I find particularly impressive in Clicker, I really like their Picturize button that helps each student writer find the word they want. They can choose from over 4,500 Clicker curriculum pictures or use their own. This software was designed with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in mind. It can help you reach students who need the most support and help them become more independent writers.

If you’ve attended a webinar or workshop with me this year, you’ve probably heard me share how much I love graphic organizers, especially in digital spaces. We all know that organizing ideas is an essential step in the writing process. For a student writer that might need additional support, the mind-mapping tool from Clicker is an excellent option for scaffolding writing.

Getting Started with Clicker

In addition to the student writer supports I mentioned above, Clicker has features that supplement your reading instruction. You can make curriculum content more accessible for students with talking Clicker Books. These resources can certainly support Talk Sets to develop speaking and listening skills for emergent readers and English language learners, too. There are Matching Sets and Talk Sets to develop speaking and listening skills.

Student Writing Support

To support independent learning and build writing skills this school year, Clicker is certainly worth exploring. You can use this link to schedule a quick 15-minute demo to see if it’s the right fit for your school. Then, you can Install Clicker 8 on your computers and use the Clicker Apps on your iPads and Chromebooks. It works on different platforms so that you can make the most of the devices in your building. This page has a great video that takes you through some of the highlights of Clicker.

Ready to get started with Clicker? You can book a free consultation with a Crick Education Consultant. This link will let you set up a 15-minute demo. You can tell them about the learning challenges your students currently face. Then they can show off the different features in Clicker that will support each student writer in your classroom!



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In this episode, educator and author, Dr. Florencia Henshaw, joins to discuss how teachers can avoid getting overwhelmed with technology.  You’ll also hear her unique perspective of working with learners in teacher education programs as well as how to keep things simple and keep the focus on pedagogy.

Listen to the podcast episode on your favorite platform:

Tips to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

  • Focus on the task.
  • Examine “return on time” investment.
  • Look at what your favorite tools already do.
  • Figure out if a tool works for your goals

Sponsored by my Quick Reference Guide

This episode is sponsored by my Quick Reference Guide on Classroom Technology Tips. Have you seen this yet? Although I love books, a Quick Reference Guide or QRG is a perfect way to get lots of information and have a handy resource to refer to. It’s laminated, just six panels and even three-hole punched in case you’re rocking a Trapper Keeper or have a favorite binder full of professional learning ideas. Learn more at ClassTechTips.com/Books, or go to Amazon and type in my name Monica Burns. You’ll have to scroll past the romance novels written by someone with the same name, but I promise you’ll find the QRGs there, too.

Follow & Review on Apple Podcasts

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet? I don’t want you to miss an episode and hope you’ll keep following along with me on this podcast journey. When you follow along on Apple Podcasts the new episodes will appear in the app so you don’t have to remember to go looking for them… Click here to follow on Apple Podcasts! And if you have a minute for a BIG favor, add a rating and review to the podcast, too — I would certainly appreciate it!

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In this episode, Alan Bates, physics teacher and fan of Arduino Science Journal resources, shares lots of great tips and ideas about hands-on learning. You’ll also hear about Alan’s work in the classroom, tips for diving into STEAM this school year, and how Arduino devices can support your students.

Hands-On Learning - Infographic

Listen to the podcast episode on your favorite platform:

Hands-on Learning Tips

  • Walk through activities and play with new devices.
  • Connect with a learning community.
  • Consider long term benefits.
  • Use guidelines instead of checklists.
  • Let students work through challenges.

Sponsored by Arduino Education

This episode is sponsored by Arduino Education, and I’m so pleased to be partnering with them because of their ethos of empowering students on their STEAM learning journey, all the way from middle school to university. Arduino Education not only supports students, but also educators with the hands-on solutions they need to feel confident in delivering successful online and in-class STEAM lessons. The guided training, resources, ideas, and tips from the thriving Arduino community help educators boost students’ STEAM skills, as well as soft skills like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.

Visit arduino.cc/education to discover their range of STEAM solutions that include all necessary learning content, hardware, software, and dedicated support – and use the code MONICABURNS2022 to get a 20% discount off your first purchase.

Follow & Review on Apple Podcasts

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet? I don’t want you to miss an episode and hope you’ll keep following along with me on this podcast journey. When you follow along on Apple Podcasts the new episodes will appear in the app so you don’t have to remember to go looking for them… Click here to follow on Apple Podcasts! And if you have a minute for a BIG favor, add a rating and review to the podcast, too — I would certainly appreciate it!

Click see the transcript

Episode Resources

Publications in The Physics Teacher journal: 



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What does it look like to promote creativity in your classroom throughout the year? If you want to help students see opportunities to create every day, Kdan Mobile has a set of tools for creativity for education. 

In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at Creativity 365 from Kdan Mobile. Regular readers of the blog might remember our past partnerships where I featured Markup and Write-on Video on the blog. In addition, Kdan Mobile has a suite of creativity tools designed for creators at all levels and stages, including special tools for education.

Creativity in Education

In my book EdTech Essentials, one of the essentials is “create.” Here’s a short excerpt from page 49 of the book: “In all classroom settings, students need time and space to create products to capture and share their learning. Students can synthesize information, apply what they have learned in a relevant context, and share this learning with an audience.”

We know that students can create both inside and outside of the classroom. Creativity is a part of so much of the work students currently take part in and what they will do once they finish the school day and school year. If you are committed to providing creative experiences to your students, the tools for creativity from Kdan Mobile are an excellent choice. 

Creativity Tools for Kids and Teachers

Creativity 365: Tools for Creativity

Within Creativity 365, you’ll find lots of options for student and teacher creators. Creativity 365 works with devices and platforms commonly found in K-12 learning environments. It supports smartphones, tablets, and desktop within the iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows operating systems. Students and teachers can sync their work across devices, so everything is quickly accessible from whatever device they choose. Let’s take a look at three of the tools for creativity in Creativity 365.

Learn more about Creativity 365 and get a 50% off discount >>

Markup

This tool lets students and teachers annotate any PDF file. In addition to marking up PDF documents, you can use this tool to highlight web pages and show off the most important content. The Markup tool from Kdan Mobile uses artificial intelligence to help quickly summarize long pieces of text and even offer recommendations for future reading experiences. For student creators, Markup can help with research and knowledge building in any subject area.

Creative Tools for Kids

NoteLedge

Student researchers can use NoteLedge to stay organized as they learn about something new. This tool lets them gather information from multiple online sources and keep track of where everything came from and the app supports video import and audio recording, too. Are your students investigating a topic or reviewing multiple online sources shared by a teacher? They can keep their online notes organized and create their learning portfolio.

Write-on Video

For teacher creators, Write-on Video is an excellent option for making interesting, informative videos to share with their students. There is also a video outline option for teachers. Teachers can create video outline templates and their students can use these templates for their own videos. For student creators, this tool can help them create video stories that explain a concept, show off a process, or capture their learning, It’s a great choice for any subject area. Student creators can also create video outlines and make short videos or photo slideshows to express their stories.

Using Tools for Creativity this Year

Any time of year is a great time to introduce tools for creativity. Students and teachers can use one or all four options in the Creativity 365 suite of creativity tools. In addition to Markup, NoteLedge, and Write-on Video, there is also Animation Desk. Animation Desk is available on Windows, and its high compatibility brings seamless cross-platform user experience. To prepare students for a future where creativity is valued and celebrated, introduce them to tools for creativity that can help them organize, apply, and share their learning.

Ready to get started with Creativity 365 and these tools for creativity from Kdan Mobile? Now is an excellent time to try out a new creativity tool! First-time subscribers can take advantage of a 50% off discount, and there is a special 50% discount for volume purchases for educators. Learn more about Creativity 365 on this page.



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Will you join us this fall for a free webinar with strategies for teachers? I’m excited to host a webinar with Trafera on “Teaching with Chrome: How to Optimize Your Workflows and Promote Creativity.” If you’re wondering how much Chromebooks can support teaching and learning this school year, then this virtual event is one you don’t want to miss!

You might remember Trafera from last year’s coffee and conversation virtual learning event. We talked about Google Workspace and breaking down all of the big changes right after they were announced. Or you might remember my conversation with Josh Ratliff about Google Workspace Administrator and Teacher Tips on the Easy EdTech Podcast earlier this summer. 

It was a very informative conversation where Josh shared lots of ideas and important information on Google Workspace. In September, you’re invited to a free online event where we’ll explore strategies for teachers using Chrome this school year. It’s just a few weeks away, and you can grab your spot right here.

How Much Chromebooks Can Support Teaching & Learning

On September 15th at 2 PM CT, you can join us live for a webinar. If you love to learn virtually, this event is definitely for you!

Here’s the official description:

Sit down with Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips) and Trafera’s Josh Ratliff to talk about the possibilities in teaching and learning when the whole classroom is synced up on Chrome. We’ll explore how to refine your workflow, boost creativity, and manage a classroom of students with a variety of learning needs, all by using Chromebooks.

And here’s something special! The team at Trafera is sending Starbucks gift cards to all participating attendees. You must register with a verifiable school work email address (USA Only) and complete the exit survey to qualify.

Strategies for Teachers Using Chrome this School Year

I’m writing this to you today on my Chromebook, and I’m so excited about this upcoming event. If you are looking for tips to make the most of all things Chrome, this webinar is for you. We’ll look at strategies for teachers using Chrome this school year, including ways to optimize your workflow and boost creativity. You can also bring your questions to the webinar since we’re carving out time at the end for a Q&A portion. And if you’re wondering how much Chromebooks can impact teaching and learning this year, you’ll definitely find answers to that question.

During the webinar, we’ll explore best practices for a smooth workflow as you post announcements, share materials, and collect student assignments. In addition, we’ll look at some of the new add-ons to Google Classroom. These are now available with the Teacher and Learning upgrades – something you’ll certainly want to use this school year. The strategies for teaching with Chrome in this webinar will also spotlight “Chrome only” features like using Chromecast with GoogleTV to increase the clarity of your demos when modeling for students. 

Use this link to grab your spot for this online learning event. And if you’re not sure if you can make it live, sign up, and you’ll get the replay sent straight to your inbox once the live event is over. Hope to “see” you there this September!



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In this episode, I share some favorite tech-infused classroom activities to kick off the first weeks of school. You can help kids get to know each other and get familiar with EdTech tools at the same time. You’ll hear about my favorite tools for students to create lots of different projects across the content areas and cultivate their creativity this school year!

Listen to the podcast episode on your favorite platform:

First Day of School Activities - Infographic

Ideas for the First Weeks of School

  • All About Me Project
  • Community Scavenger Hunt
  • Capture Pictures & Video
  • Model a Digital Read Aloud
  • Share a Favorite Shortcut

Sponsored by Tract

You can’t put a price tag on a teacher’s most valuable asset – time – which is why Tract is giving time back to teachers for FREE this back-to-school season.

In partnership with student-favorite athletes, creators, and artists, Tract is kicking off the school year with a set of curriculum aligned Project Guides designed for students in grades 3 – 8. Each guide is chock-full of enriching educational content and on-demand challenges, posed as driving questions, designed to stir creativity and challenge students to solve real-world problems. 

View the project guides and join Tract FREE by visiting teach.tract.app and use access code MONICA at sign up.

Follow & Review on Apple Podcasts

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet? I don’t want you to miss an episode and hope you’ll keep following along with me on this podcast journey. When you follow along on Apple Podcasts the new episodes will appear in the app so you don’t have to remember to go looking for them… Click here to follow on Apple Podcasts! And if you have a minute for a BIG favor, add a rating and review to the podcast, too — I would certainly appreciate it!

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What do you have planned for the first weeks of school? The date of the very first day of school varies from state to state and country to country. But no matter what day you circle on the calendar, many exciting things happen during the first weeks of school. If you want to introduce a new activity to your class, I have the perfect creative challenge to share with you.

Regular readers of the blog might remember some of the creative challenges I’ve featured throughout the past year. The Adobe for Education team has shared many great creative activities this year, including one where students can make their own logo and another that gives you access to a class norms poster.

In today’s blog post, I’ll share a brand new challenge for back to school. You can try this out during the first weeks of school or revisit this one throughout the year.

Note: Adobe Express for Education is free. Click here to get started.

The First Weeks of School

What do you hope to accomplish as you kick off a new school year? As a classroom teacher, the first few weeks of school always felt like they flew by, but I knew what an important time it was to get to know each other, set routines, and establish the tone for the school year.

During this back-to-school season, Adobe for Education has a new creativity challenge called “New You in ’22.” This three-part challenge takes place through the end of September, and Part 1 is ready for you to explore today!

First Weeks of School with Adobe Express

Back-to-School Creative Challenge

In Part 1 of the challenge, teachers and students can create a multi-page post to help you and your students to introduce themselves. You’ll also have a space to set new goals and establish important milestones for the school year. Just like the creativity challenges from earlier this year, the challenge includes a template.

As you can see on this page, there are prizes for participating in the back-to-school creative challenge from Adobe for Education. Teachers can win a Joy of Creativity backpack full of swag and techy surprises to help support their creative journey this school year! To enter to win, you must complete all three phases with your students and post to social media showing evidence of use with your students using the #AdobeEduCreative.

Make Multiple Pages in Adobe Express

Did you hear the news? Adobe Express just launched multi-page functionality. With this new feature, you can now create graphics with multiple pages of content. This is an excellent option for many different types of projects. If you’re making a slideshow, a carousel post, or a detailed infographic, the multi-page feature is a game changer.

You can also use this new feature in the new back-to-school creative challenge, too. For instance, students can easy copy page 3 of the template to create multiple ‘big goals’ for different subject ares for the year to keep track of all of their goals in one project. Check out the template on this page to get started with Part 1 of the challenge. Once you open it up, you’ll use the arrows at the bottom of the screen to toggle between pages.

Stay tuned: The multi-page post is just Part 1 of the “New You in ’22” challenge. I’ll share more details soon on Part 2 and Part 3, where students can make videos and web pages during the first weeks of the new year!



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I love books… I’ve written a few books… And I read all the time… But I know reading books isn’t the only way to learn something new. So if you’re looking for an idea to replace a traditional teacher book club, I have four to share with you.

In today’s blog post, we’ll look at why you might want to replace your teacher book club, the alternatives, and how you can get started with a few recommendations. For example, you might call your group something different than a “book club,” like a “Short From Study Group.” Or you might use the strategies in today’s blog post within a PLC or grade-level team.

Replacing You Teacher Book Club

Before we jump into the replacements, and some alternatives to learning from teacher books, let’s tackle the question: Why might you consider replacing a traditional teacher book club this school year? Although your answer to this question might be different, here are two reasons you might want to avoid 

It’s not the only way to learn

If you receive my free weekly newsletter, you know I love to read. I often share a book I just finished and links to an audiobook I enjoyed. Reading is a great way to learn something new, but it’s not the only way to learn. Although I haven’t added TikTok to the list below, I’ve learned quick tips from videos on that app and Instagram. And if you’ve attended a workshop with me, you might have seen one of my favorite Ted-Ed videos, which is another excellent platform for learning new facts.

It could be too much to ask

A book club is great when you have time to participate; that doesn’t just mean having a book club meeting scheduled on the calendar. If you are hosting a book club and asking teachers to join, it could simply be too much to ask if you aren’t giving participants time in the day to dig into the book. Adding a few hours of professional reading a month without providing participants time on their schedule to dive in is a lot to ask during a busy school year.

4 Alternatives to Reading Teacher Books

Here are four alternatives to reading teacher books you may want to explore this year to change your routine, provide different ways to learn new information, and honor your teachers’ time.

Teacher Book Clubs - Infographics 4 Things (2)

Articles

From Edutopia to Edsurge to right here on my blog, short articles and blog posts are a great way to learn something new. You might send a link to everyone at the start of a meeting, provide time for them to read it through, and then discuss how it connects to your current practice or might impact your future practice. Like a book club, you might ask participants to take a position on a statement, share a takeaway, or pose a question to the group.

Here are a few you might share:

Podcasts

Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to learn and share, and this medium has grown substantially in the past few years. Many podcasts cover teaching and learning topics or topics adjacent to education and may connect to your goals. Before asking a group to listen to a podcast, you may want to show off some listening strategies like speeding up or slowing down the episode or where to find a transcript if they would prefer to read.

Here are a few you might share:

Webinars

Whether you gather together to watch a live webinar or share a link to a replay, this medium is an excellent alternative to a traditional teacher book club. Although live events are fantastic, you may want to watch a webinar first before suggesting it for this type of learning experience. This strategy is similar to reading a book before recommending it to a book club. Some authors host webinars that feature one topic of their book, so it could be a good option for introducing a subject without making a more significant commitment.

Here are a few you might share:

Quick Reference Guides

If I know I’m carving out time to read — on an airplane, during a train ride, or sitting at the beach — I have the habit of tossing some sticky notes into my bag. I like to mark down ideas to try out or questions to follow up on. A quick reference guide summarizes big ideas in just a few pages. They are laminated and three-hole-punched, so even if you don’t place them into a Trapper Keeper, you can leave them on your desk or poking out of your bookshelf for easy reference.

Here are a few you might share:

What alternatives to a traditional teacher book club have you tried in the past? What are you hoping to try this year? Let me know what is on your mind for professional learning by tagging me @ClassTechTips in a post on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.



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In this episode, Sean D’Arcy, VP of Kahoot! at school and home, joins to chat about the power of games in the classroom and how to make learning stick this year. You’ll hear about how students can play and create their own games this school year and how Kahoot! sets kids up for success by increasing engagement, communication, creativity and collaboration!

Listen to the podcast episode on your favorite platform:

Tips to Make Learning Stick

  • Make learning stick with games.
  • Try out different game modes.
  • Turn students into creators.
  • Give students an audience for their games.

Sponsored by Kahoot!

This episode is sponsored by Kahoot!. Kahoot! is a digital learning and engagement platform that is making learning awesome at school, work and at home. Through its unique game-based learning model, Kahoot! engages learners of all ages and delivers fun and meaningful learning experiences. Users can create their own kahoots for free, or find high-quality content from publishers and users in just a few clicks. More than 9 million educators around the world use Kahoot! to unlock the learning potential of their students, and hundreds of organizations including 97% of Fortune 500 companies use Kahoot! to engage, connect, and train employees through unique game-based learning solutions.

Follow & Review on Apple Podcasts

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet? I don’t want you to miss an episode and hope you’ll keep following along with me on this podcast journey. When you follow along on Apple Podcasts the new episodes will appear in the app so you don’t have to remember to go looking for them… Click here to follow on Apple Podcasts! And if you have a minute for a BIG favor, add a rating and review to the podcast, too — I would certainly appreciate it!

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