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Connected Educator Month Australia | Helping educators thrive in a connected world

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 18 September, 2014 - 23:55


  • "Throughout October 2014, a collaborative calendar will connect thousands of educators across the globe to engaging and diverse professional learning events, communities and resources." - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: event, community, Victoria, PD, list, PLN, VicPLN

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

Teach APCS–A New Shared Resource Site

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 18 September, 2014 - 19:49

A few days ago I was contacted by Christina Cacioppo whose day job is an engineer at a startup but who is also helping to teach Advanced Placement Computer Science. She is involved at a public school in San Francisco through TEALS (http://tealsk12.org) which places software professionals in the classroom to help start CS programs. Christina has created her own site to share resources. I have to say it has a lot already but she is looking for others to contribute as well. The site is called Teach APCS.

According to its creator, Teach APCS currently has:

  • an interactive REPL to help students get started
  • a dictionary of common terms
  • a compiler-error-to-English translator
  • a list of exercises that have been tested in classrooms and seem successful (these look particularly interesting to me BTW)
  • a "microtext" – snippet-sized explanations of key AP CS concepts
  • a list of microlectures – solid YouTube videos that could supplement
    classroom instruction.

If you are teaching APCS or other Java course check it out. Perhaps share some resources of your own!

Categories: Planet

Mindful learning

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 18 September, 2014 - 17:42

The challenge of re-imagining schooling is not about changing structures but mindsets. This was the theme of my keynote address at the ACE National Conference in Adelaide recently.  It is time for a new professional maturity.  Let me be clear that professional maturity is the courage to think differently, respond creatively and to act boldly against a dominant and outdated educational narrative.

There have been two books this year that have influenced my thinking on how we think more mindfully about learning and teaching.  The first is Carol Dweck’s Mindset.  The other is Ellen Langer’s ‘The Power of Mindful Learning‘.  Langer is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and has devoted much of her career to the theory of mindfulness.

Like Dweck, Langer stresses that myths and mindsets about education undermine the process of learning.  The desire by educators to personalise learning isn’t a new concept but Langer suggests a new approach – teaching students how to make meaning of content themselves.

Langer talks about enabling students to draw their own distinctions and to frame learning in such a way as to see more than one answer or angle.  When students are able to contextualise material it allows them to ‘create working definitions that are continually revised.’   In her experiments over the years, Langer has found that when information is presented as ‘could be’ rather than ‘is’, it immediately opens up the possibility of seeing things from different perspectives or more mindfully.

Reflecting on her own teaching practice, Langer says we should see that every inadequate answer a student gives is often an adequate answer when viewed in another context.  Langer writes:

If we respect students’ abilities to define their own experiences, to generate their own hypotheses, and to discover new ways of categorizing the world, we might not be so quick to evaluate the adequacy of their answers. We might, instead, begin listening to their questions.  Out of the questions of students come some of the most creative ideas and discoveries.   All answers come out of the question.  If we pay attention to our questions, we increase the power of mindful learning.

Often when I hear educators talk about the challenges of learning and teaching, they begin with ‘The reality is…….’.  As Langer shows, the reality is one perspective or one way of looking at the issue.  This notion is wonderfully illustrated by Salvador Dali in his painting The Persistence of Memory which challenges our concept of time.  There are as Dali depicts, multiple realities and many ways of seeing what ‘could be’ if we begin to view things differently – more mindfully.

The imperative we have to deliver a more relevant and personalised learning experience for all students demands that we think and respond differently.  John Hattie encourages teachers and leaders to adopt new mind frames.  He says these must ‘pervade our thinking about teaching and learning, because it is these ways of viewing our world that then lead to the optimal decisions for the particular contexts in which we work.’

Mindful learning must begin with mindful teaching.  And the challenge of re-imagining schooling begins not with what is but what could be.








Categories: Planet

The Top 35 edTech Influencers

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 18 September, 2014 - 17:37


  • List with biographies of 35 educators who are innovating education through using technology. With links to them online. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: teaching, educational technology, educators

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Bitstrips - Comics starring YOU and your Friends

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 18 September, 2014 - 17:17


  • This is an online comic creator. It offers flexibility and quite a lot of customization with the options and features. This flexibility in Bitstrips comics allows you to create virtually any story that you can imagine. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: comicstrips, comics, cartoon, comic_strips, tools, comic, educational technology

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Before You Move Onto the Next Big Thing…

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 September, 2014 - 11:56

Often after presentations, I will hear things like, “This is really cool, but what’s the next big thing in education?”

My response?

Shouldn’t we become great at what we are doing now first?

The problem with continuously focusing on the future is that we are often neglecting the present.  The next cool “app” often leads us to going a mile-wide and an inch-deep.  We want our students to have meaningful learning, yet we often want to implement every new thing we hear about or see, that we never really become great at anything.

While we are fixated on things like “school in 2030″, just remember that there are kids in your building that need you to knock it out the park right now.  Just like we want our students to have deep and powerful learning experiences, we have to learn how to create these  same opportunities for ourselves. That takes dedication and long-term commitment, which are the same things we are hoping to develop in our kids.

Categories: Planet

National Poetry Month: Exemplars from EDSITEment: Poetry for the Common Core | EDSITEment

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 18 September, 2014 - 10:37


  • National Poetry Month: Exemplars from EDSITEment: Poetry for the Common Core - Rhondda Powling

Tags: poetry

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

NCWIT Aspirations in Computing 2015

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 17 September, 2014 - 20:05

The nomination period for the 2015 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is now open. If you know a high school woman who is interested in computing nominate her or suggest she nominate herself. This is a great program to give some girls some recognition and support. And there are prizes too! From the web site:

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their passions. This multi-tiered competition includes recognition at the national level (sponsored by Bank of America) and at the local level (sponsored by Microsoft), serving 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Criteria and Eligibility Any U.S. high school woman with computing aspirations is eligible and encouraged to apply: NCWIT recognizes aspirations as well as accomplishments. Aspirations Award recipients are chosen for their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing, proven leadership ability, academic performance, and plans for post-secondary education. For more detailed information, please visit www.aspirations.org/faqs.
Categories: Planet

Initial findings | Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 17 September, 2014 - 16:54


  • "ITSL, in collaboration with the Centre of Program Evaluation at the University of Melbourne are conducting a three-year process and impact evaluation of the implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
    The purpose of the Evaluation is to assess the usefulness, effectiveness and impact of the Standards on improving teacher quality.
    Over 6,002 respondents including teachers, school leaders, pre-service teachers and teacher educators participated in the 2013 National Survey. Initial analysis from the survey highlights the key findings below." - Rhondda Powling
  • "ITSL, in collaboration with the Centre of Program Evaluation at the University of Melbourne are conducting a three-year process and impact evaluation of the implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
    The purpose of the Evaluation is to assess the usefulness, effectiveness and impact of the Standards on improving teacher quality.
    Over 6,002 respondents including teachers, school leaders, pre-service teachers and teacher educators participated in the 2013 National Survey. Initial analysis from the survey highlights the key findings below." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: AITSl, teaching, Teaching Standards, infographic

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

15+ Teaching Ideas to Get You Excited About Teaching

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 16 September, 2014 - 21:14

Our classrooms are full of ones. Not hundreds not hundreds of thousands – – not millions — but there are millions of ONEs. Each child is unique. Each child is an individual. So are you teachers! We don’t do all the things quite the same. I read a great quote from Beth Moore that represents teachers so well:

You don’t have to see eye to eye to be glad to be side by side.

Do you need some ideas for improvement?

It fits.  I want to share with you some fast, easy ideas to make your classroom more excellent. For each of these ideas, I’m linking to a show that will help you learn more.

Which show? Well, many of you may not know but I do a bi-weekly (and sometimes more) show on BAM Radio called “Every Classroom Matters” and I’m celebrating 100 episodes this week!!!

The shows are a short 10 minutes. The focus is great education wherever it is happening: K12, highered, homeschool, virtual school, professional development. Learners of all ages in every country. Excellent teaching and trends – wherever they happen — are the focus (thus the name Every Classroom Matters.)

I want you to be encouraged and hopeful! Let’s get some ideas from each other. Here are 15 ideas and shows (and videos) to go with them.

1. Let Your Students Make Apps

Kennedy and her teacher Marsha Harris. Kennedy made an app to help other kids learn French and about France.

Kennedy (a fifth grade student) and her teacher Marsha Harris, @marshamac74 did this at their school in Atlanta, GA using Crescerance(I’m going to be doing this too at my school. We’ll start in October!)

Listen to #ecmatters show #93 “Students and Teachers Experimenting with Creating Apps  2. Encourage Your School to Start Prototyping

Scot Hoffman at the American School of Bombay in India is leading the school’s R&D department.

How do you innovate when you’ve “always done it this way?” The American School of Bombay has a fascinating approach: have an R&D department. If you don’t know “R&D” stands for “Research and Development.” Companies who spend money on R&D will be innovators in 3-5 years. The intentionally research and develop products for their company. This can apply to our classrooms too. Learn about ASB’s R&D department and some of the improvements that they’ve made with teachers. Apply this by experimenting and protyping teaching methods in your classroom.

Listen to #ecmatters show #92 R&D: Identifying the Next Best Teaching Practices  3. Encourage your Special Needs Kids to Make Videos

Two guests — one father and one award winning teacher — both found that videos are an excellent way to bring special needs kids into the larger classroom. Gary Dietz and John Lozano

 John Lozano and His Student Michael
Listen to #ecmatters show #73 with teacher John Lozano: Using How Do We Help Other Kids and Adults Understand Autism?   A Father Finds Videos Help His Son Give a Winning Report

Father Gary Dietz shares some stories about working with his son in the classroom. Dads of special needs kids will particularly love his heartwarming book, Dads of Disability(Read his post 5 practical lessons for elementary classroom inclusion about the impact that inclusion has on all kids in the classroom.)

Listen to #ecmatters show #91 with father Gary Dietz (author of Dads of Disability) : Understanding the Anxieties Around Educating Special Needs Kids   4. Consider the In-Flip Model of Learning if the Flipped Classroom Isn’t Doable for You

The flipped classroom isn’t doable for everyone — not all places have good Internet or computers at home for the kids. The in-flip model is one that every teacher can use. I love this model of teaching as I use Haiku Learning and prepare videos of the detailed work we’ll be doing. Learn more about how Flipped learning is moving forward and about the in-flip from Flipped Classroom pioneer Jon Bergmann. (Recorded at ISTE 2014.)

Listen to #ecmatters show #90 with Jon Bergmann: Preparing Your Students for Flipped Learning  5. Join Some Global Collaborative Projects This Year

Global collaboration is vitally important for every 21st century classroom. Whether you’re using Mystery Location calls or learning about rhinos in South Africa, this is something you can do.  Here are several ideas for you.

(If you’ve read the book I coauthored Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds – you’ll know that I co-developed a model for how to integrate global collaboration into your classroom and still meet standards. I still believe this book is THE definitive guidebook for global collaboration in education – I haven’t read anything that comes close to the how-to. Yes, I’m biased. ;-))

Listen to #ecmatters show #89 with Toni Olivieri-Barton Getting Your Students Involved in Global Partnerships 

My students have signed up again for the AIC Conflict Simulation run by Dr. Jeff Stanzler at the University of Michigan and we start next week. This awesome program teaches the Arab Israeli Conflict like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Listen to #ecmatters show #74 with Dr. Jeff Stanzler How Simulation Games Can Teach Complex Subjects 

Some challenges are hands on and use social media. This transformative project teaches about water poverty in a safe but powerful way.

Listen to #ecmatters show #64 The 4 Liter Challenge: Teaching Students ABout Water Poverty 

Karen Stadler from South Africa won ISTE’s Online Learning Award for this one. This is a great example of a project that a teacher has created that is making a difference.

Listen to #ecmatters show #56 The Rhino Project: Teaching Social Consciousness.

Students are connecting with Olympic Champions. Even if you don’t get in the program, the videos are free for all of us to use. They are a gold mine of grit, determination and powerful stories!

Listen to #ecmatters with Steve Mesler and teacher Julieann Cappuccino about Classroom Champions: How Students are Learning Critical Skills from the Best in the World  6. Learn the Tricks and Hacks for Google

Susan Oxnevad gives an awesome overview of 12 great tools to use with Google Drive. (If you’re into this, you might also want to read my 15 top Google Add-Ons)

Listen to #ecmatters show #77 12 Great Ways to Use Google Drive  7. Consider Gamification and How You’re going to Gamify Your Classroom

Cat Flippen (yes that is her very cool name) is researching games in the classroom and what they are (and are not). You’ll find yourself motivaed to use games with her work.

Listen to #ecmatters show #86 Serious Games: Rethinking Gamification in Education  

Watch this video that we recorded part of the Gamifi-ed OOC this past February with teacher Michael Matera who has gamified his entire history course. He has awesome ideas.

Speaking of Gamifi-ed – this past school year some higher ed educators and I combined our classrooms to study games. (We’ll be at it again in February if you’re interested.

Listen to #ecmatters show #51 Gamification: What Does it Take to Create Games that Actually Result in Learning with Verena Roberts, Dr. Lee Graham, and Colin Osterhout 8. Watch Videos of Best Practices and Share Them with Your PLC

Bob Greenberg is using his retirement to travel the country and record videos with leading thought leaders. The Brainwaves YouTube channel is must watch and share. These resources are fantastic snippets to use and discuss in any group seeking to improve education. Hear the back story behind what he’s doing. (It will make you love Bob and his noble quest even more.) Sir Ken Robinson and Chris Dede are among his newest interviewees.

This is a perfect example of learning to use the subscription feature in YouTube — so you can keep up with a channel like this!

Listen to #ecmatters show #85 Capturing the Best Teaching Practices and Leaving a Legacy 9. Dress Up and Hook Students

Elementary teacher Jeromie Heath has a costume closet! Great teachers remember that they are the most important asset they have in the classroom. When we dress up — kids take notice. (I also gave some clues into my own “Zombie Test Prep” example.

Listen to #ecmatters show #84 Making Learning Fun: Engaging Students With Imagination 

Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator totally rocked my classroom when I read them during the summer of 2013. Every teacher should listen to this show and buy his book!

Listen to #ecmatters show #20 Teach Like a Pirate: Grabbing and Keeping Your Student’s Attention with Dave Burgess 10. Encourage Students to Read a Renegade eBook

Twenty something’s Seth and Chandler Bolt (one of them is a rock star – literally) have written  a fantastic ebook for teens: Breaking Out Of A Broken System. The back story and how they are using the proceeds to help those in poverty is even better. This is a refreshing look at success and education by two brothers breaking the rules and suceeding anyway. I loved it.

Listen to #ecmatters show #83 Learning for Life Versus Learning for Grades, College or Career with Chandler Bolt 11. Make Sure Young Children Use Technology in Age Appropriate Ways

Author Karen Nelson is a PreK teacher integrating technology. She uses so many ways to positively connect kids and keep balance.

Listen to #ecmatters show #82 Generation C: When Very Young Children Are Connected to Technology 

Karen didn’t know this but her work lines up with the research from Patti Wolman Summers’ book about using iPads with kids under 4.

 Listen to #ecmatters Show #55: Toddlers on Technology: Touch Screens, Picking Apps for Young Kids and Setting Limits 

These two listens would make great discussions for elementary age teachers in staff meetings and PD.

12. Make Sure Your Body Language is Positive

Matthew Kohut, author of Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential, shares about body language and the subtle cues that can help you be a better educator. Plus, don’t miss the must-know body language tricks for speech coaches that you’ve probably never heard before!

Listen to #ecmatters show with Matthew Kohut #81 Hidden Social Qualities of Effective Educators  13. Write in Powerful New Ways

As those of you who read my blog know, I’m wildly intrigued by how writing is reinvented (thus my book Reinventing Writing). Linda Yollis is a classroom blogger-guru and has powerful ways for her students to connect.

Listen to  #ecmatters show #49 Trial and Error: 3 Strategies for Building an Authentic Audience for Your Student’s Work with Linda Yollis

First grade teacher and award winner Karen Lirenman uses Twitter in her classroom. You can do this too!

Listen to #ecmatters show #10 Savvy Use of Edtech in Early Ed Classrooms with Karen Lirenman

Annice Brave, 2012 Illinois Teacher of the Year uses Google Docs to co-plan with her fellow teacher Jeff Hudson. She also talks about journalism and AP Scores.

Listen to #ecmatters show #27 Reinventing Your Classroom  14. How to Have Great Test Scores and Focus on Learning

Superintendent Pam Moran has an epic interview where she shares the philosophy that has led her district to test less and score better. This is a must listen and share share with your superintendents and principals who say it can’t be done.

Listen to #ecmatters show #69 The Proper Role of Testing with Pam Moran 15 – Find Your Own Passion

I wish I had time to list every single show but it is now 7:05 and if I don’t get dressed, I’ll be late for school.

As of this moment there are 100 show episodes listed on the Every Classroom Matters page! Look at the page and find one that interests you and what you’re trying to do right now.

Shine the Light on Great Teaching Everywhere

This show is my own effort to shine a light upon everyday educators. Every day educators are AMAZING. Let’s celebrate teaching and learning wherever it is. I hope these short 10 minute shows help you get energized and excited about all the things you can do in your classroom. And remember.

Every Classroom Matters — YOUR classroom matters. Level up a little every day.

The post 15+ Teaching Ideas to Get You Excited About Teaching appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Why I Retweet Things From Heavily Followed People

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 16 September, 2014 - 20:15

I used to think that retweeting something that someone who had a lot of followers tweeted was a waste of time. After all they reach many more people than I do. Plus many of the same people follow both of us so I’d be duplicating things. Then I started to look at statistics that twitter provides. Mind opening.

For starters even though I have something around 5,000 followers it seems from the statistics that only between 150 and 250 people actually see the average tweet I make. Still an ego boosting number but it made me realize that just because I see a tweet doesn’t mean that all the other followers of a tweeter see it. In fact only a small percentage of followers see each tweet. So if I see someone tweets something really good then there is a chance someone who didn’t see the original tweet, even though they follow the other person, will see my retweet. And that is a good thing.

For me much of the value in tweeter is what people share with me. Sharing things with others, original to me or from someone else, is what keeps the whole thing working. This is also why I include links from people who have many followers on Twitter or on their own blog BTW. If information is good then it should be shared.

Linking from a blog or retweeting on Twitter also helps bring new readers/followers to people sharing good information. Since many of the visits to this blog come from search engines there is always a chance that someone will find a blog, a twitter person, or a piece of information that they were not looking for because they didn’t know it was our there.

So I retweet things I like no matter how many followers the person has and link to blog no matter how many readers they have. It’s what makes the web work.

Categories: Planet

Dashboard | EQUELLA

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 16 September, 2014 - 14:32


  • an open access repository service powered by EQUELLA. This publicly accessible repository promotes and provides access to resources contributed by academic institutions and repositories from around the world. 

    Resources are accessible through content harvesting, federated search, or via direct access to the website, enabling access to thousands of resources.  - Kerry J

Tags: oer, collaboration, teaching, learning, tools, resources

by: Kerry J

Categories: International News

8 Characteristics of the “Innovator’s Mindset”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 September, 2014 - 10:07

Recently I explored the notion of the “Innovator’s Mindset”, and have thought a lot about this idea.  As I look to write on the topic of “Leading Innovative Change” within schools, we are looking to develop educators as innovators.  To be innovative, you have to look at yourself as an innovator first, and to create schools that embody this mindset as a “culture”, we must develop this in individuals first.

Building upon Carol Dweck’s work, I have been looking at the traits of the “Innovator’s Mindset”, which would be summarized as follows:

Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed leading to the creation of new and better ideas.

To develop students as “innovators” in their pursuits, we must embody this as educators.  As I continue to research and look at different processes where innovation excel, such as design thinking, there are several characteristics that seem common amongst these themes.  Here they are below and why they are important for educators:

  1. Empathetic - To create new and better ways of doing things, we need to first understand who we are creating them for.  As educators, innovation starts with the question, “what is best for this child.”  For us to create something better for our students, we have to understand their experiences and this is why it is imperative that we not only talk about new ways of learning, but immerse ourselves in these opportunities.  This way we can understand what works and what does not work from the perspective of a learner, not a teacher.  If anything, teachers have to a deep understanding of learning before they can become effective in teaching.  We need to put ourselves in our student’s shoes before we can create better opportunities for them in our classrooms.
  2. Problem Finders - As Ewan McIntosh talks about, it is important that we teach our kids how to ask good questions instead of simply asking for answers. All innovation starts from a question not an answer.  The invention of the home computer started with the focus of, “How do we bring the experience of a powerful computer into the homes of families?” Many capstone projects developed by students in their classrooms start with first finding, and then solving problems both locally and globally.  How often do we as educators immerse ourselves in a similar process?  If want to be innovative, we need to look at questions first.
  3. Risk-Takers – Many would argue that “best-practice” is the enemy of innovation.  To be truly innovative, you sometimes have to go off the beaten path.  The reality of this is, that for some kids, the “tried-and-true” methods will still work, but others, you will need to try something different.  In a time where many kids are totally checking out of school, is “best practice” truly “best”, or just “most well known”?
  4. Networked – Steven Johnson has a powerful quote on the importance of networks where he states, “chance favours the connected mind.”  Innovation does not happen in isolation, as it is often ideas that are being shared amongst many that lead to new and better ideas being developed.  The best educators have always created networks to learn from others and create new and powerful ideas.  Now though, many have taken the opportunity to take networks to a whole different level through the use of social media to share and develop new ideas.  Isolation is the enemy of innovation.  Networks are crucial if we are going to develop the “Innovator’s Mindset”.
  5. Observant – A practice normal amongst those that would be considered “innovative” is that they constantly look around their world and create connections.  It is normal to have a notebook or use their mobile device to record ideas or thoughts around them and link them to their own ideas.  In education, we often look to solutions to come from “education”, but when organizations around the world share their practices and ideas, we have to tap into their diverse expertise and learn from them as well.  Wisdom is all around us, we just have to look for it.
  6. Creators – So many people have great ideas, yet they never come to fruition.  Innovation is a combination of ideas and hard work.  Conversation is crucial to the process of innovation, but without action, ideas simply fade away and/or die.  What you create with what you have learned is imperative in this process.
  7. Resilient – Things do not always work on the first try, so what are the tweaks or revamping that is needed?  To simply try something and give up as soon as it fails never leads to innovation only a definitive end.  This is something great teachers model daily in their teaching, as they turn good ideas into great ones.
  8. Reflective – What worked? What didn’t?  What could we do next time?  If we started again, what would we do differently?  What can we build upon?  It is important that in education and innovation, we sit down and reflect on our process.  This last point is definitely lacking in many aspects of education as we are always “trying to get through the curriculum”, yet reflection is probably the most important part of education as the connections we make on our own is where deep learning happens.

For educators to embody this, it is imperative that leaders create a culture where this types of characteristics are not only accepted, but encouraged.  It is also imperative that at both the leadership and whole organization level, these characteristics are embodied.  To many, being “innovative” is no more than a buzzword, but if we truly have innovative students, we need to embody the “Innovator’s Mindset” at all levels.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 15 September 2014

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 15 September, 2014 - 20:16

Overshadowed, at least in the US, by the anniversary of the attack by terrorists on New York and the Pentagon, last week also included Programmers Day. Apparently started in Russia when Dmitry Medvedev issued an executive order establishing a new professional holiday, Programmers' Day, back in 2009.

Programmers' Day will be celebrated on the 256th day of each year, that is on September 13 or 12 depending on whether the year is a leap year.

I didn’t know in time to celebrate with my students. Maybe next year. I did collect a lot of good links to share with you. Read them all and don’t miss any.

Interesting article in @Marie Claire: How to Land a Job at Microsoft It’s good advice no matter what tech company you are interested in working for though.

Another hi-tech company is getting involved in promoting computer science education as Salesforce Pours $6M Into SF Schools, Computer Science Education Five million directly to schools and another million to CODE.ORG

Code.org also announced their new  Code Studio set of tools for teaching programming last week. 

Computer science is now the #1 course at Harvard (Just passed Economics) How does that happen? I wonder.

Digital Literacy vs. Learning to Code: A False Dichotomy Worth reading as you probably need to talk about this. I know I do.

Debugging the Gender Gap Documentary thanks to the CSTA blog I found out about this movie and watched the trailer. Good stuff!

Laura Blankenship shows once again why teachers need to share what they are doing with other teachers.  Net Neutrality and other hot topics is about how she starts of class with a short discussion of current and important topics. I need to do this with my classes.

17 Rare Images Tell the Real Story of Women in Tech by @michaelmccutch About people who too often are left out of the history of technology.

Know any women in STEM fields looking for help with graduate education funding?  Microsoft Research is giving scholarships to female graduate students in CS, Engineering, Information Science and Math. Pass it on. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/awards/fellows-women.aspx

Categories: Planet

Place Based Learning

Place Based Learning was the theme of conference on Friday, organised by Deakin University, Warrnambool. Deakin University is our local university (45 mins drive from my school). It is a smaller uni but maintains a wonderful country style community with beautiful grounds and surroundings. Faculties are active in getting grants and working with local schools.

On Friday, I not only attended this conference  but also presented on the theme “Mobile Learning – Changing Learning Spaces”. I spoke on “how can/do mobile technologies support/promote enhanced place-based learning and the types of positive impacts associated with that.”

Dr Julianne Lynch, a senior lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy at the Faculty of Arts & Education welcomed us and set the scene for the day. Although creators of technology create for a specific use, users of the technology will appropriate what they want and use it in ways that often designers did not envisage eg mashups etc. Learners need to be positioned so that can connect with and care for social and environmental welfare of the place, making them responsible for their learning and where they are living.  Experiences can be layered and students get a sense of place through virtual and phsysical spaces.

Several sessions were led by Will King from Brauer College. He outlined the school’s experiences with the Local Koori Mobile Project.  This exciting and essential work with our local aboriginal community ensures that their dialect and stories will be handed on to our current generation. It is essential that some of the stories are told out on Country so that students can learn about aboriginal history, often in the places where significant cultural actions occurred. Stories need to be connected to place! ARIS, a mobile app, is being experimented with to provide documentary evidence versus physical presence. Guided by Rob Lowe Snr, Peek-Whurrong elder, Year 7 Brauer College students participated in a field based local history program. They collected digital artefacts and created a heritage trail, navigable using the geo-tracking capabilities of hand held mobile devices.

Will and  Paul McLaughlin,  a phys ed teacher at Marion College, Ararat, with an interest in integrating technology in education, including location based games,  showcased their students’ learning and outlined the processes involved in developing a game-based local history trail linked to the Australian curriculum. The mobile app ARIS was used to develop this local history trail.
Oral history is still vitally important and the way that aboriginal knowledge has been transmitted.

Terri Redpath, coordinator for the School of Education at Deakin University, shared her work with the students in using iPads to record learning. Students become producers of information, going from print based learning to multimodal communication. Students put their learning an knowlegde into their own words and came up with powerful rich understanding.

Steph Hann outlined her work with geocaching and grade 6 students. Geocaching is a “real world outdoor treasure hunting game” using GPS enabled devices.

Students worked with staff and students at Deakin to produce 6 geocaches. These were hidden at the university. Their theme was based on the careers and courses that uni students could do. The learning included making links with community, sense of ownership, sharing stories and the importances of imagery.

Nadine Frankel, a specialist science teacher at Warrnambool East Primary School together with a fellow science teacher Kerry McCarthy won a Victorian Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Curriculum Innovation. They worked on a project in primary science (WEPS – focused on the Fluker Post environmental monitoring system). Finally, a session on the lane-ways of Warrnambool using some digital augmentation was shared by Karen Richards. She is an award-winning artist working in the medium of embroidery, digital embroidery, animation, lace sculpture etc.

A SWOT analysis in small groups completed the day, which was a wonderful celebration of local, innovative teaching and learning and Place Based Learning.

Categories: Planet

Why We Don’t Truly Embrace Failure

The Principal of Change George Couros - 15 September, 2014 - 08:13

Although it seems to be cliche and commonplace in education to talk about innovation and the importance of “failure” in the process, this thought process seems to be misguided and focusing on the wrong aspect of the process.  Advocates of the importance of “failure” will often point to stories such as that of James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson Vacuum who, “spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked.”  Yet the reality of this story is that no one would even mention James Dyson if it wasn’t for that one success at the end.  How many other vacuum inventors can you name and, especially,  how many of the other vacuum inventors that never successfully got a vacuum on the market can you name?

The part of this process that is imperative is resiliency and grit.  Resiliency, in this case, being the ability to come back after a defeat or unsuccessful attempt, and grit meaning a “resolve or strength of character.”  These are characteristics that are important in the innovative process as we need to continuously develop new and better ways to serve our students.

For example, I was recently talking to a learning coach that shared her frustration about working with another teacher who basically tried one process with a student and it didn’t work. When her learning coach asked her whether she tried anything else, the teacher had told her she hadn’t.  The learning coach was obviously frustrated that this was a “one and done” situation.  Later, our group conversation turned to focus on the notion of failure and how it is important that educators “embrace” and be okay with it.  I immediately jumped in and asked the learning coach, “Do you consider the process you described earlier as a failure?”, to which she quickly said “yes”.  I then asked, “and were you okay with that?”, to which she emphatically said, “NO!”  Trying out different things and figuring out alternative options for our students are all part of the “innovator’s mindset“, but accepting failure, especially when it comes to our kids, is not something I, or others, will ever embrace.

When I first started teaching, I remember famously saying to a student, you are going to learn the way I teach.  I could not have been more wrong in my thought process with this student.  A great teacher adjusts to the learner, not the other way around.  This is where resiliency and grit are not only “nice”, but necessary.  Not accepting failure is important to be successful in serving our kids.  What works for one, might not work for another, and as leaders, we need to develop a culture that focuses on doing whatever we can to ensure that we are successful in serving our students.  This “napkin drawing” by comedian Demetri Martin, beautifully outlines this process.

Success is messy, as is learning.  Although I love this picture, the one thing that needs to be pointed out is that on both sides of the drawing, the endpoint of the arrow is pointing in the same direction.  Towards a better way in the end.  Yet in many educational institutions, their “line” would not look like either.  It would simply be a plateau where we have done the same things over and over again; no better no worse.  We all know what a “flat line” means in the medical profession.  Schools can’t mirror that or we might face the same outcome.

Categories: Planet

Getting Organized

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 15 September, 2014 - 02:59

Most years I have had a rough plan of what I wanted to teach.  I use the term “plan” loosely there. My granularity tended to be a week rather than a day. I knew the topics and the order of the topics but day by day plans tended to be recorded after the fact. This year I got really organized.

I’m teaching two courses and one of them includes sections of a course that two of us are teaching. Tom (the other teacher) and I (largely Tom) built up a daily plan based largely on records of how the course went last year. This seemed like a great idea so I did the same for the honors programming course where I am the only teacher. I laid out every day of the semester. Oh there is room if something runs long and I can deal if things go short and I adjust the schedule as that happens. But basically, in theory, I know what I am doing every day all semester long.

It’s early to see how it will work for the semester but so far I think it is going well. The plan forced me to spend more time and do more exercises with students on some of the early stuff. This is stuff I think I rushed too much last year. Very basic stuff like variable types, proper use of assignments, breaking down problems into little pieces, and other concepts that really have to be solid before getting serious about things like loops and decision structures and all that. Without the plan I might have rushed too much.

I have planned out what projects and exercises to do as well. I spent some time during the summer tuning them up a bit from previous years. While I leave myself open to changing projects based on student interest at least I know what I need and when I need it.

What I have found most amazing is how this has kept my stress level down. I know what I did when I did it and what to do  today. When I get in to school I review the plan for the day and I am good to go. It feels great.

This is not to say I don’t spend my prep time doing things. I do. Grading of course takes up some part of it. Mostly though the time is spent improving what I had or have used in the past. And some time improving things for the next time I present the same topic. Improving slide decks and building additional support resources for students seems like a natural result of almost every class. our learning management systems makes it easy to share things with students and I encourage them to go there for review information.

Categories: Planet

School’s out Friday

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 13 September, 2014 - 07:07

I’m laying odds that the people at Head Office of IKEA in Sweden are looking very closely at their Singapore division and wondering what kind of Christmas bonus they can offer them this year. The ‘BookBook’ video, uploaded to YouTube by IKEA Singapore, has racked up over 10 million views in a week  – a pretty clever marketing ploy by anyone’s standards. Send up your product in a parody of an Apple ad and watch it go viral. Just what I need for impetus for my ‘Language of our Times’ class next term, when we begin our Project Based Learning task exploring ‘What makes an idea go viral?’

Speaking of Apple, their latest video, ‘Perspective’, shown at their Keynote launch this week, is another signature Apple piece appealing to their tribe of followers.  Take a look.

Over 600,000 views in three days. Another good one for my students to analyse.

I’m currently in Munich, where I’ve spent the last three days after visiting Italy for a week. In my last post I spoke of my poor footwear choices leading to some pretty difficult days limping through the streets of Florence and Venice. I’m pleased to report Munich has been much kinder on my feet. It’s a very flat terrain here, and we’ve slowed down our pace out of sheer necessity. We were exhausted after the heady pace of four cities in 7 days – Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice. Today, after reading some travel blogs about the best footwear for traipsing through Europe, I purchased some Geox walking shoes that I’m hoping will see me right through the next few days in Frankfurt and Bad Kreuznach and then onto Paris and  London in the coming weeks.

I will try to write here about some of our experiences – we’ve had an amazing time already. Yesterday we visited Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and that experience deserves a post of its own. I’ve read so much about the Holocaust, but nothing really prepares you for walking the grounds and listening to a guide take you through the experiences of the people who were subjected to that cruel fate. It’s an experience everyone should have – as I walked through, it struck me that it is something that could feature as a Google Tour – that way students all over the world could have that experience and hopefully understand why the International Memorial there has the words, ‘Never again’ written in six languages.

Our hectic pace continues tomorrow, My husband and son are off the Bayern Munich vs Stuttgart game in the afternoon, then we board a train for Frankfurt in the evening, arriving there close to midnight and hoping that the accommodation I’ve booked doesn’t fall through!

I hope your weekend sees you finding time to relax and take in some sun. Enjoy whatever comes your way. :)

Categories: Planet

An Act of Heresy

Chris Betcher - 13 September, 2014 - 00:02

Bless me father, for I’m about to commit an act of heresy. Whenever I say what I’m about to say, I get a reaction that ranges from raised eyebrows to outright hostility and arguments. But I’ll say it anyway.

I don’t like the hashtag chat format on Twitter. And I don’t like the timed presentation format used for Teachmeets. There. I said it.

Maybe I’m just becoming a cranky old man as I get older, but I don’t like either of these formats and for much the same reason. I find they dumb down the conversation.

I know that both of these formats are very popular at the moment, and I know that many people seem to like them. But I just can’t warm to them, and I wanted to write this post to explain why. Feel free to condemn me in the comments.

Let’s start with Twitter hashtag chats. That’s where you pick an abbreviation, slap a hashtag in front of it, set aside an hour or so, and off you go. Instant “conversation”. I know this form of conversation on Twitter is insanely popular right now, but I just can’t seem to work out why.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Twitter and think its impact on the world has been absolutely seismic. I joined it in early 2007 and have used it regularly since the very beginning. I’ve written a lot of very pro-Twitter posts about how wonderful Twitter is and how important it is that you should be using it too. Twitter is awesome. No argument there. It’s great as a backchannel at events, or as a way of distributing information quickly, or as a tool for building professional and personal connections. It’s a communications medium with self imposed limitations, but if you work within the bounds of those limitations, it’s absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. I like Twitter a lot.

But as a means for having deep, meaningful focussed conversations on specific topics, I struggle with it. It always feels to me like it’s being wrangled into doing something that it was never really designed to do, and consequently it feels like it does it poorly. Whenever I try to have a meaningful conversation broken up into 140 character chunks (less by the time you include the hashtag, the Q&A numbering and any @replies you might want to include), the “conversation” feels decidedly stilted, fragmented and superficial. I’ve participated in many of these hashtag chats over the years and I always find them frustratingly tedious. I can never say what I want to say in the space I have available to say it, so it ends up getting fragmented into disconnected chunks spread out over time, with no really functional way to reassemble those chunks into some semblance of a real conversation.

Hashtags chats usually start out with people saying hi, where they’re from, etc, which takes up the first 10 minutes or so, then the host/moderator throws a question into the ring (Q1, Q2, etc) and everyone has a go at responding with their own tweets (A1, A2, etc). As people respond, then respond to the responses, the conversation fragments even further until there is a confusing collection of truncated half-thoughts littering the timeline, waiting to be mentally reassembled into a thread that hopefully makes some degree of sense. For an hour or so, questions are added to the mix, replies are made, popular tweets are favourited and retweeted, and there always seem to be a whole lot of chatter that ends up in a confused, non-archivable mess. Which is a shame, because the actual ideas that were either poorly expressed, or hidden in that mess of messages, is potentially brilliant. But I think it’s far too much work and far too inefficient to be used like this.

I should point out that this hashtag chat idea is not the same thing (to me) as using a hashtag to aggregate tweets around a theme or meme. The latter is organic, and percolates naturally. People can contribute on the hashtag over time, and it is pulled together with a hashtag search query. This feels like a natural use of Twitter. The hashtag chat, on the other hand, where structured questions get sent out to a group for responses in a specific window of time, always feels contrived to me. It feels like a school project, where people are answering questions in response to the moderator, who artificially keeps the “conversation” moving. There’s nothing very organic or natural about it.

I’ve tried to give this form of “conversation” a go, but I just can’t warm to it. I know many people who love it, so hey, more power to them. If it works for you, knock yourself out. It just doesn’t work for me. I find I have to dumb down my contributions to stay under the character limit, or figure out how to say something so simply that it no longer conveys the meaning I intended. I end up writing in sound bites that become glib and superficial. And then I get frustrated because I wasn’t able to communicate what I wanted to communicate. I know, long form writing is not what the kids do these days, email is dead and Google+ is a ghost town.  Whatever. I’ve been told that anything worth saying should be able to be said in a Tweet-sized package, but I just don’t see it. Some ideas are worth more than that.

Which brings me to my second bugbear, the timed “Teachmeet style” presentation where each speaker gets a few minutes to speak and share a tool or idea. (The fact that there is even a “speaker” at what is essentially supposed to be an unconference style event should be the first clue that something is out of whack). For much the same reasons as I struggle with the idea of hashtag chats, I find this is yet another format with a self imposed artificial limitation that can easily ruin the potential value of the content. I don’t know if you recall the historical evolution of this format… the Teachmeet format was originally an unstructured get-together of teachers talking shop and sharing ideas over a few beers at a pub. Then it grew and spread and morphed into a range of formats, until every Teachmeet I go to now uses this same format where each speaker gets a short time limit to share an idea. Originally this time limit idea evolved from the Pucha Kucha style of presenting, but has now grown into being a standard Teachmeet thing.  It’s totally unnecessary. The Pecha Kucha style was designed originally to force presenters into a rigidly structured format – half the fun of giving a Pecha Kucha talk is about meeting the challenge of the format while giving an interesting talk. – but there’s really no reason that Teachmeets should continue to do the same. I agree that having some form of “lightning round” presentations, where you get a strictly timed few minutes to share an idea, can be a lot of fun. I think the 3 minutes Demo Slams at Google Summits can be a good example of this.

But when every Teachmeet becomes nothing but a series of rigid timeslots, it feels to me like we’ve jumped the shark. Making presenters squeeze their ideas into a few minutes might be good for keeping the program moving, but it can be counterproductive to real conversations and authentic sharing of ideas.

Some ideas cannot be distilled down into a soundbite sized presentation. Some ideas take more time, and need an opportunity for questions and deeper reflection. But when the only format for conveying ideas is this kind of short, sharp blast, the only ideas that get talked about are the ones that  fit the format. And I happen to think that there are many ideas worth sharing that need more time, more depth and more nuance than either a 4 minute talk or a 140 character tweet can do justice to. I think we are dumbing down the conversation far too much if this becomes the dominant means of sharing. If I’m going to spend time participating in real conversations with other human beings, I want to hear what they have to say, and not just to hear what they managed to squeeze into an artificially limited timeslot. I think we all deserve better than that.

I’m know I’m supposed to just agree with the status quo and go along with what’s popular. I’ve publicly stated my feelings about both these formats before and have been told all the reasons why I’m wrong. One of my favourite pushbacks is that sharing in this way is still better than not sharing at all. I think that’s a specious argument. Of course it’s better than nothing, but it’s still no replacement for rich, deep conversations or subtle, nuanced sharing of ideas. I’m tired of the shallowness and the superficiality of these formats. I think we can do better, and we can start by reminding ourselves that some ideas are bigger and bolder than a stopwatch or a character limit will allow.

Understand what I’m saying. There is still a place for this kind of rapid-fire sharing, but it should’t be the only place. Right now, every Teachmeet I go to uses this timed format, and the use of hashtag chats on Twitter is more common than ever. By all means, let’s use these formats, but let’s also be aware of their limitations and shortfalls and don’t fall into the dangerous trap of thinking they are the only formats in town.

Featured Public Domain Image – The Witch, No 3,
Wikimedia Commons


Related posts:

  1. Finding the Needle in the Twitter Haystack

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Note Taking Skills for 21st Century Students

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 12 September, 2014 - 21:13

Note taking skills aren’t just automatic. We tell students “take notes” but they have no idea what that means. What makes “good notes.” What do they write down? What should notes look like?

Every since I went through the Writing Across the Curriculum Course at my school I realized the tremendous gap between “writing” as we’ve taught it traditionally and 21st century writing skills. That frustration threw me into research about how to teach writing in my classroom (all of that research was then put into my new book Reinventing Writing – just because I couldn’t find the book I needed when I was struggling with teaching writing in the digital age.)

(Photo Credit: Wesley Fryer who has been teaching about visual notetaking for some time now.This graphic is from a 2013 workshop he did in Canada and drawn by two of the workshop participants, Tanya Avrith and Audrey McLaren. Thanks Wes for sharing these.)

Now I have a new frustration that has me grappling with noteaking. I don’t just take my students into full blown digital notetaking as I discuss in Reinventing Writing. If they don’t have basic notetaking skills down in an analog way adding a new technology AND teaching how to take notes at the same time is too much.

So, now, I’m taking the approach of helping students master analog notetaking. This is for several reasons the first is just to teach the analog notetaking skills they need but secondly, I’m full out an IN-FLIP classroom. When I’m teaching concepts on the computer or anything point and click, I always do it with videos embedded in our LMS – Haiku Learning.

A note about In-Flip: The kids love it. The other day I took a poll and said — everyone go to the left side of the room who prefers that I teach this stuff from the board like I used to. Go to the right side of the room if you prefer the videos. The left side of the room had no one but the dust bunny and a cricket there. For more, listen to the discussion I had with Jon Bergmann at ISTE about it)

I want to know what they are getting out of the videos and if they are pulling out the essential questions I’m giving them. Until I know that they understand how to pull out the important points, I’m checking their notes every single day. (And don’t for one second think that my class is all videos – we have LOTS of face to face interaction – just not for certain things.)

So, here are some of the essential notetaking skills I’ve taught them so far.

Cornell Notetaking System

My favorite Cornell notetaking video is by Jennifer DesRochers. Students watch this one and set up their Cornell system on paper. I then have several lessons where students JUST using the Cornell system. I check to make sure they have summaries at the bottom of the notes, headings at the top, and that they are pulling essential points out.

This method is THE SINGLE MOST important reason (besides studying myself blind) that I graduated first in my class from Georgia Tech. I couldn’t have processed the high volume of notes without it and it is an important method.

If you don’t believe me, look at student notes. Many of them have no dates, no topic, no teacher class information at the top. We can do better.

Visual Notetaking

At this point it is likely that your students are just using words in their notes. We want them DRAWING. Why? So they can use all parts of their brain. Using symbols and notes and such can help connect ideas in powerful ways. So, at this point, I take my students on a visual notetaking journey. We leave Cornell except for the heading with the date, class, topic, and teacher’s name.

Also, if you want to dig deeper, Wes Fryer’s blog post about Visual Notetaking is a Must Read.

Step 1: Visual Notetaking Bellringer

I have a bellringer that I use with this and will share snippets so you can adapt it. (I don’t want to put the full one here because the digital notes I used under fair use and you’ll need to find and paste your own into your bellringer.)

The following are 3 sets of visual notes. As you look at these notes with your partners and look at these examples, fill in your answers to the questions on the back of this page.

So, students are looking at 3 examples of visual notetaking. For full impact, find 3 examples of visual notes taken related to your subject (perhaps even the topic at hand.) These should be in color if possible. Have students discuss in their small groups and then discuss as a group.

Questions to Ask As Students Look at Visual Notetaking Examples
  1. All three examples use a strategy called “visual notetaking” – looking at these examples (and what is shared in them) how would you define visual notetaking?
  2. What are some advantages of using visuals in your personal notetaking system?
  3. How could you use visual notetaking as part of the Cornell system you’ve already learned?
  4. What are some drawbacks of visual notetaking?

Then, after we’ve discussed visual notetaking from observing samples, we’ll dive deeper.

Step 2: Introduction to Visual Notetaking

This first video I have students watch and take notes any way they want. I like this video because it is showing visual notetaking as it is talking about it. Again, stress to students you don’t have to be an incredible artist to make this work and not to get hung up on details.

Step 3: How Can Visual Notetaking Be Used in Class?

In this second video, I have students watch the video and take visual notes for the whole thing. They can stop the video but for only up to 1 minute. I don’t want them sidetracked or delayed. I also want them to see how visual notes can be used in a classroom setting. I liked Rachel Smith’s approach in this video.

I follow up later with why we use visual notes and a little bit about the left brain being a center for logic and procedures and the right being a place for creativity and social intelligence. I also talk about how we all use all of our brain even though we have strengths but when we learn and use more of our brain it makes it easy to remember.

Then, I have students using the Cornell system WITH visual notetaking.

How I’m applying Visual Notetaking in my Own Life

I’m now doing visual goalsetting — I take my goals and turn it into a one page graphic drawing that helps me picture who I am and who I want to be. I’m also visually noting the books I read on one page and putting that page in Evernote. That makes it more readable.

When my students move to electronic notetaking and find that some tools (particularly on the ipad) have some of the visual notetaking tools built right in – they’re going to be excited.

Other Concepts We Will Cover in Our Notetaking Journey

When students get into electronic notetaking I’ll teach them the PREPS system I share in Reinventing Writing.

Analog Notetaking Mastery Before Going Digital

So, while I will have this year’s students at the level of notetaking prowess and using the full blown PREPS system that I share in Reinventing Writing before Christmas, I’m just finding that I need to shore up the basics. If students know WHY they take notes (the reinforcement of writing down the words helps put a nudge to the brain that this is important – and for recall later) and HOW to take notes – they’ll be better able to become engineers of their own personal learning system.

In the end, I want each students to have their own system of personal notetaking that is a combination of the best. I want them to be fluent on paper and electronically.

But this is definitely a progression of skills and best taught in small bites integrated among the content that I’m teaching. So, we teach a new technique about every week and a half.

What do you think should be included?

So, while this is on my mind (and now on some of yours) will you take time to share the essential things you think should be taught in an analog way (on paper) before taking students into a full blown digital notebook?

The post Note Taking Skills for 21st Century Students appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

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