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An Online Community for CS Teachers Using Microsoft Tools

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 4 February, 2016 - 01:43

One thing I am constantly looking to do is to learn from other computer science teachers. There are some good online communities for this purpose. I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups for example. And I regularly follow conversations on the SIGCSE and AP CS mailing lists. A few months ago I joined an online community for teachers using Microsoft tools to teach computer science.

In the group are teachers using the tools I use a lot – Visual Studio, Code Hunt and TouchDevelop for example. Also some tools I occasionally use but have liked for years like Kodu and Small Basic. And somethings I am still learning about like Minecraft and the BBC Micro:Bit. And more. It is a very friendly and helpful bunch of teachers and I am learning a lot.

If you are using Microsoft tools/products to teach computer science, you’ll want to join. Sign up at http://aka.ms/MCSTN

Categories: Planet

Teacher PD Is Still Broken, These 3 Steps Can Fix It

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 3 February, 2016 - 12:58

Every Classroom Matters episode 212

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Many teachers feel like teacher professional development is a waste. Dan Brown shares the three research-based ways to make teacher PD better. What is more hypocritical than a lecture on differentiated instruction or project based learning? But there is teacher professional development that DOES impact learning in the classroom. Let’s do that. Listen Now.

The best of teaching should not only be used in our classrooms, it should be used to teach teachers! We can improve professional development for teachers but it will mean redefining the traditional “seat time” approach to professional development. It may also mean redefining what we talk about at professional development experiences. Let’s rise to a higher standard and become inspired to be the model leaders this generation of teachers and students needs to improve education around the world.

Essential Questions: Teacher PD Is Still Broken, These 3 Steps Can Fix It
  • What are the 3 key aspects of excellent PD according to research?
  • How do we improve professional development and make it so it can get approved by regulatory organizations?
  • How teachers can take on hybrid roles and become leaders in professional development?
  • How can we bring student  and school strengths into teacher professional development?
  • How we can get to personalized learning plans for teachers?
  • How can teachers move from martyrs to models?

Educator Resources from this Episode

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The post Teacher PD Is Still Broken, These 3 Steps Can Fix It appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Top Blog Posts of January 2016

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 2 February, 2016 - 23:17

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Wow! January 2016 was an epic month here with a reach of over 200,000 views between this blog, my blogspot blog, and vickidavis.me. Add to it a great month for Every Classroom Matters and all of you who share and reshare on Facebook and Twitter and you’re looking at more than a million educators reached through the network built around this blog.

The numbers are staggering, but in the end, it is always about you. It is about you — the individual person who reads this blog and if you find what you read here to be helpful to you in your everyday classroom. Teaching is not easy and we have to share and help each other as we work to level up a little bit every day.

I opened the year in Illinois with a first day back and wow, those educators were awesome! And now, poof! January is gone.

Last night I had the teacher kickoff meeting for Mad about Mattering and wow! Our students are going to be designing apps together using the latest in mobile app development technology and compassion-based engineering concepts from Angela Maiers. What an epic group of teachers.

SO excited about our MAD about Mattering kick off teacher meeting tonight! #appsthatmatter @coolcatteacher pic.twitter.com/0W8mQ0Vw1j

— MAD-learn (@MADLearn) February 1, 2016

I hope your January was one where you leveled up and learned. I also hope you’re making progress towards your goals. Teacher, take care of yourself so you can take care of those kids. Get outside, get some exercise. May February be even greater!

Top Blog Posts of January 2016
  1. 10 Ways to Flip a Kid and Turn Their Day Around
  2. 6 Ways to Motivate Teachers: Be the Hope
  3. The 7 Devices of Transformation in Education New in January!
  4. 15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons for Education
  5. Notetaking Skills for 21st Century Students
  6. Epic Effective Classroom Decoration and Design Resources New in January! I am constantly updating this resource guide!
  7. 10 Stress- Busting Secrets of Great Teachers
  8. How to use Padlet: A Fantastic Tool for Teaching
  9. 6 Reading Comprehension Problems and What to Do About Them
  10. What To Do When Someone Hates You
  11. 10 Things Google Classroom Makes Easier with Alice Keeler New in January!
  12. If I’m such a Great Teacher, Why Do I want to Quit
  13. The Top 15 Tweets of 2015 New in January!
  14. Should we be averaging grades? Picture by Thomas Guskey New in January!
  15. Beginning and Ending Class Like a Pro with Brian Szabnik New in January!
  16. 18 Epic Productivity Apps
  17. Would You Want to Be a Student in Your Own Classroom? with George Couros New in January! (This gem has more than 500 tweets already. You can’t see the Twitter count without using Buzz Sumo, but wow! This series with George Couros based on his book The Innovator’s Mindset is likely going to be a top one for February.)
  18. Teaching Pitfalls: Signs That You Are Out of Balance with Alicia Roberts New in January!
  19. Top Tips for Teaching with Robots (using Sphero!)
  20. How to Create Custom Thumbnails for your YouTube Channel
The Top Show on Every Classroom Matters: Primary Sources with Dr. James Beeghley

The top show on Every Classroom Matters this past month was a whopper of a show on using primary sources with Dr. James Beeghley called “How I’m Teaching Beyond the Textbook, Far Beyond…”  Topping more than 6K listens and counting, it is a must share for history teachers and anyone who wants to understand how history instruction is changing.

A Big Thank you to JTouch from InFocus

I want to give a shout out to a new sidekick in my classroom! The Jtouch board from inFocus has replaced my Interactive Whiteboard. I love it! If you want to learn more about how I’m using it in my classroom, listen to the 10 Things Google Classroom Makes Easier episode with Alice Keeler. Interactive White Boards are being replaced by this incredible, massive touch screen device.

The post Top Blog Posts of January 2016 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

A Framework for K-12 Computer Science Education

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 2 February, 2016 - 22:44

Last week about 25 or so computer science educators met in Austin TX for two days to work on A Framework for K-12 Computer Science Education. This was not the first meeting of course. Meetings have been taking place online and in person for some months now.

The process started last fall with meetings of thought leaders and stakeholders in CS education. (Mark Guzdial wrote about one of these meetings and the start of the process at the BLOG@CACM in Advice for CS Education from Science and Mathematics Education.

With all the attention computer science education is getting these days (finally) it is important that the community have quality resources to work with. This framework (and standards like those that CSTA is updating) are huge parts of filling that need.

A steering committee initially comprised of the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Association for Computing Machinery, and Code.org is overseeing this project. And there are many top CS educators involved.

Of course a project like this needs a lot of eyes looking over things. Transparency is a must. So there will be review periods. In fact, the first review period launches with a webinar (link) on Feb 3 at 8 pm ET / 5pm PT. More information about being involved in the review is on the K-12 CS Framework web site. It is very important that a wide representation of computer science educators be involved in this project. I hope many of you will get involved.

Related posts:

Categories: Planet

You Matter: Before You Help Students, You Must Help Yourself

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 2 February, 2016 - 13:22

Every Classroom Matters episode 211

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Stress caused me to lose half my hair and gain weight. Stress put Angela in the hospital three times in a year. As much as we love caring for children, we’ve learned very hard lessons that mattering starts with loving yourself enough to take care of yourself. From going offline to exercise to just taking a deep breath, it is time to get real about how you’re treating yourself. Listen Now.

If you aren’t alive, you can’t take care of kids. If you aren’t healthy, you can’t be in the classroom teach and in your best frame of mind. So many of us struggle with this, but it is time to get our lives back. Angela Maiers makes the crucial point that we cannot only live healthy lives in the summertime or during break. We have to live healthy on a daily basis.

Mattering starts with a decision to treat your own body like you matter. Precious teacher, you are important. Start treating yourself like it. Aptly, I listened to this episode as I pounded the elliptical tonight for 20 minutes. It felt great. I have a million things to do, but none is more important than my own physical body. For without a body, I cannot do everything else. If you’re struggling or know someone who is, listen and share this show and ask yourself the hard questions that will help you change.

Aptly, I listened to this episode as I pounded the elliptical tonight for 20 minutes. It felt great. I have a million things to do, but none is more important than my own physical body.  If you’re struggling or know someone who is, listen and share this show and ask yourself the hard questions that will help you change.

Essential Questions: You Matter: Before You Help Students, You Must Help Yourself
  • How do you step back when you’re overworked and exhausted?
  • How does mattering in your classroom start with how you treat yourself?
  • How can you commit to self-care and why it is so important?
  • What was the hard question Angela asked Vicki over lunch that changed the direction of Vicki’s life?
Listen to all the episodes in this series: Mattering Mondays with Angela Maiers.

Educator Resources from this Episode

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The post You Matter: Before You Help Students, You Must Help Yourself appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Opening the door to learning

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 2 February, 2016 - 13:13

Richard Branson wrote a fantastic piece last month on why there is no such thing as an ‘average’ human being. Reflecting on his own experience he writes, ‘The concept of ‘average’ has failed us in many different aspects of life – most notably in our educational institutions.’

Branson wants to see an education system that isn’t geared to making students fit in but enabling each one to stand out.  He says when you base an educational system on the concept of an ‘average learner’, we fail to ‘recognise and nurture talent’.

I am sure there are many for whom schooling was a less than average experience.  It illustrates how critical it is for teachers and leaders to see the world from the eyes of the learner, to understand what motivates and challenges and to provide ladders to climb instead of hurdles to jump.

At the start of our school year, I wanted to share the inspirational story of one of our former students. Nas Campanella lost her vision at 6 months of age and despite this, went on to achieve her goals including becoming the world’s first blind radio newsreader.

She spoke recently to our system leaders about her experience of schooling and her work as an advocate for students with disabilities.

Our work as teachers and leaders must be as advocates for all learners; opening the doors of learning no matter how challenging.

Categories: Planet

Ways To Set Up Others for Success

The Principal of Change George Couros - 2 February, 2016 - 09:40

As leaders, it is important to ensure that help is provided to people to become their “best self” through the process.  I love the idea of sometimes “super-sizing” their job, meaning that we put them in situations that are “above” what they usually do, to push them to become better.  Yet when people are put into these situations, the likelihood something can go wrong is greater.

How do we ensure that people are put into the best possible situations to succeed?  Here are a few ideas below:


  1. Trust them.  Have you ever seen a basketball coach say to a player about to shoot a free throw, “Don’t miss.”  Duh. Do you think that a person wants to do poorly?  Not a chance.  If you hired them in the first place, then trust them to do the job that they are supposed to do.  The people you have hired do not need to be micromanaged or else they wouldn’t have the job in the first place. I would actually suggest that the more someone is micromanaged, the more anxiety they will feel, leading to a lesser chance of success.  You should definitely be available to support and jump in when it is absolutely needed, but being micromanaged is the equivalent of not being trusted. No one thrives in that environment.
  2. Ask what they need.  Servant leadership should be just that, servant.  As discussed above, it is important not to have it done your way, but to support people in a way that they need.  Sometimes people feel that “asking” is a sign of weakness, so a great leader will check in on what they can do for someone to be as successful as possible. Sometimes it will be nothing, but just being asked is sometimes enough to say to someone that they are there for you.
  3. Figure out when to be a leader or a cheerleader.  Sometimes things go wrong and people need to step in, but it is the degree something goes wrong that people have to understand.  Is this something that will lead to being totally unsuccessful, or is this something that will be a great learning experience for later?  Sometimes leaders need to step in front, but sometimes they need to support from behind.  The skill is figuring out when.
  4. Be direct when needed. If someone in your organization is not achieving to the level you believe they can, it is important to communicate clearly to them.  I have had leaders that really want to say something, but they want people to figure it out for themselves, yet this can cause mistrust.  Instead of dancing around a topic, being direct is often the best way to go when something is absolutely needed.  This will lessen the conversations that run through a person’s mind after, as they know exactly what is needed, as opposed to wondering if they are missing the mark.  People want to do a good job, and if they aren’t, sometimes the best way to communicate this in a direct but respectful manner.
  5. Ask questions.  The best leaders know that they can learn from any position, and that the more questions they ask others, the more they grow as well. The best mentor relationships is where learning is happening in both directions, not just top down.  Through your own curiosity and questions, it helps someone reflect on their own work, which helps them to be successful the next time around.  Success breeds success, and the more we learn from what others did right, the more we all grow.
  6. Appreciate the work in an authentic manner.  I could have just said to “appreciate the work”, but sometimes praise feels political; like it is being done to check off a box of being a “good leader” as opposed to coming from the heart and mind.  Give meaningful feedback to someone and appreciate not only their success, but their growth. Do it not as a “boss”, but as person to person.

These steps are more ideas than a formula, as each person we serve is different, but hopefully they will help others to think about how leadership is crucial to setting up others to become successful.

What have the best leaders you had done to support you to become successful?

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 1 February 2016

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 1 February, 2016 - 22:09
Initially the big deal for me last week was working on the CS K-12 Framework (an effort by code.org, CSTA and ACM) and then the President’s weekly Saturday address was all about an inititive Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science for All  That links is to a YouTube video of his 4 minute talk.

US Chief Technical Officer Megan Smith took to the official White House blog to go into a lot more detail.

The BBS Micro:bit is one of my Computer Science Education Things to Watch in 2016 and I’m watching. It looks like another delay as the BBC confirms Delayed micro:bit computers will reach teachers after half term. They still plan on a million of them being distributed and a lot of teacher training is ongoing
Lego Land has mosquitoes by Garth Flint talks about some of the issues he has had getting Lego software working for his students. It’s about more than that though as it is an insight into what sort of thing CS teachers often have to deal with that makes their work different from other teachers.

The College Board has an AP Computer Science Principles Toolkit with a bunch of resources.

Stacey Armstrong talks about how High School Programming Contests Rock! Programming contests are big in Texas where he teaches and he’s got some good resources in this post.
Categories: Planet

Constructing a positive classroom culture — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 31 January, 2016 - 17:00


  • How might we shape that culture and how will we understand the many forces at work? Understanding the culture of class or perhaps even a school is an important element of our teaching but realising the complexity of this task must come first. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: no_tag

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

3 Reasons Why All Learning is Personal

The Principal of Change George Couros - 31 January, 2016 - 08:37

Personalized learning is something that educators have talked about for a long time, but I am really struggling with the term.  I have talked about the idea and differences between “individualized and personalized” learning before, but really, all learning is personal.

Think about this scenario…

I recently spoke to approximately 200 school leaders (at all levels) over a three day period.  Each group had people in similar positions, but from different schools, programs, etc.. After about 35-40 minutes of talking to each group using the same slides and ideas, I asked them to reflect in a google form about what they wanted to learn and their takeaways.  Although the talk was the same over the three days, their responses were so different from one another. We have to realize that this is the norm, not the exception, but why is it the norm?

Here are three reasons that struck me upon reflection of this experience.

  1. Each individual has their own experiences and acquired knowledge. (Past)
  2. Each person creates their own connections to content based on the reason mentioned above. (Present)
  3. What interests each person biases what they are interested in learning moving forward. (Future)

Doesn’t this to apply to all teaching and learning whether it is from the curriculum, delivered in a workshop, or watching it on a YouTube video?

We should focus less on all people learning the same thing, and more on all people learning forward. There is a difference.

Categories: Planet

President Obama Announces #CSforAll Initiative

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 31 January, 2016 - 02:31
Those of us involved in Computer Science education were pretty excited when President Obama mentioned computer science education in his State of the Union Address. That’s a big deal. This morning the president when even further dedicating his weekly Saturday address to an initiative Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science for All  That links is to a YouTube video of his 4 minute talk. It’s pretty exciting and worth a listen.

US Chief Technical Officer Megan Smith took to the official White House blog to go into a lot more detail. If you can about CS education you will enjoy reading Computer Science For All
Computer Science for All is the President’s bold new initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that computer science (CS) is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. CS for All builds on efforts already being led by parents, teachers, school districts, states, and private sector leaders from across the country.   The President’s initiative calls for:
  • $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for school districts in his forthcoming Budget to expand K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships.
  • $135 million in Computer Science funding to become available starting this year from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National And Community Service (CNCS)
  • Expanding access to prior NSF supported programs and professional learning communities through their CS10k Initiative that led to the creation of more inclusive and accessible CS curriculum including Exploring CS and Advanced Placement (AP) CS Principles among others.
  • Involving even more governors, mayors, and education leaders to help boost CS following the leadership of states like Delaware, Hawaii, Washington, Arkansas, and more than 30 school districts that have already begun to expand CS opportunities.
  • Engaging CEOs, philanthropists, creative media, technology, and education professionals to deepen their CS commitments.  More than 50 organizations are making commitments, learn more and get involved and make a commitment here.
Lots of shout outs to people and programs that have been working for a long time in this area and it is wonderful to see them recognized.

Categories: Planet

A new lens

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 27 January, 2016 - 09:31

According to a recent Victorian study, many assistant principals aren’t prepared to take on the role of principal because of the associated work stress.

Responding to the survey, Dennis Yarrington, president of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) was quoted saying that many states and territories were already looking at “innovative practices around principal development” to provide the skills and knowledge to be able to cope with increasing workloads.

I am a champion of innovation but what is the rationale for finding more efficient ways of fixing an old model of schooling and its increasing workloads?

As Canadian theorist George Siemens said you can’t expect theories from a largely industrial era to work in a digital one.  The solution is to create new pedagogies, new understandings of knowledge, a new view of learning and I would add new roles for teachers and leaders.

If anything, the study highlights that as a profession we aren’t responding to or adapting quickly enough to the changing nature of today’s world.  If we are still trying to up-skill our teachers and leaders to deal with 20th century challenges and workloads, then we are largely stuck in a time-warp.

I recently read in Time Magazine that the Ford motor company is on a mission to disrupt its own company by transforming itself from a traditional car manufacturer to a ‘mobility’ provider.  Its CEO said they would be looking at new services such as ride-sharing (think Uber); inspired largely by Apple’s transformation twenty years ago from a technology company to a lifestyle one.

Some have referred to the industrial model of schooling as a Ford production line but what we can learn is that the future of schooling depends upon innovation and transformation.  Like Ford, we need to disrupt ourselves because technology has already started disrupting the way students are communicating and learning in a hyper-connected world.  The paradigm must move from learning as remembering to learning as thinking.

Roberto Verganti, Professor of Leadership and Innovation in Milan, wrote a great article on innovation in Harvard Business Review this month. He says in order ‘to find and exploit the opportunities made possible by big changes in technology or society, we need to explicitly question existing assumptions about what is good or valuable and what is not – and then, through reflection, come up with a new lens to examine innovation ideas.”

Unfortunately schooling struggles to look through a new lens and as the brilliant Mark Twain said “you can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”










Categories: Planet

How To Cite Social Media In Scholarly Writing

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 25 January, 2016 - 20:46


Tags: academic writing, APA, attributions, citations, copyrights, MLA, scholarly writing, social media, teaching, writing, writing practices

by: Paul Beaufait

Categories: International News

One Door Closes, Another One Opens

Chris Betcher - 20 December, 2015 - 02:17

Well, I think this is exciting news…

After 8 years I’ve officially resigned from my tech integration role at PLC Sydney and, starting on January 1 next year, will be embarking on a whole new career adventure. I have taken up a fulltime position with EdTechTeam as their Director of Professional Development for Australia & New Zealand.

EdTechTeam is a California based company but has just started a local subsidiary here in Australia. As “a global network of educational technologists” with a mission of “improving the world’s education systems using the best learning principles and technology”, I’ve always been really impressed with what EdTechTeam are about. If you’ve ever been to a Google Apps for Education Summit, you’ve already had a small glimpse into the kinds of things EdTechTeam does, but there’s a whole lot of other things going on as well! Basically, imagine if you assembled a team of the most talented teachers in the world, who are all doing amazing things with technology in the classroom, and then ask them to go change the world. That’s what EdTechTeam is.

I’ve been doing work with EdTechTeam on a part time basis for the last few years, so I have a pretty good idea of what they are about; helping teachers understand and embrace the power of using digital technologies to improve student learning.

I’ve been teaching in schools for nearly 30 years now. I’ve taught both boys and girls, in public, catholic and independent schools, in Australia and Canada. I’ve left teaching twice already to try other things, but always managed to find my way back to it. I love teaching. I love working with kids. I don’t know of any other career that lets one make a dent in the future in quite the same way that teaching does. The thing I love about teaching is that it puts you in a position where you can make a difference.

That said, I think the work EdTechTeam is doing is impacting education on a much bigger scale. I think we are poised at an exciting moment in educational history, approaching a grand confluence of ideas, technologies and social change. I’ve been banging on about the need for change in schools and education for years now (as have many others) and I feel we are nearing a real tipping point in being able to create that positive change in education. If I can impact teachers – at scale – in helping drive that change, then that seems like a great place to direct my energy. As much as I will genuinely miss not being in classrooms with kids every day, the chance to have an impact on tens of thousands of educators each year, who then take that impact back into their own classrooms and apply it, seemed like an irresistible idea to me. In a school I might be able to influence 30 teachers. Last year EdTechTeam worked with over 30,000 teachers from around the globe. Many of those teachers went back to their schools and applied what we shared with them to dozens, or even hundreds, or kids. That’s what I find exciting!

As I cleaned out my desk at PLC last week, I was finding documents and items from the past eight years. It really struck me just how much change has happened in those eight years. When I arrived at PLC in 2008 the tools, technologies and ideas about teaching were quite different to how they look now. When I started at PLC we did not have Google Apps. There were no Chromebooks or iPads. The App Store was in its infancy. Google Drive had not been invented. Streaming music and video was almost unheard of. Working productively on a mobile device was not possible. The idea of storing files in “the Cloud” was not even in the public consciousness. Yet all of these technologies and ideas have completely redefined the day to day experience of a contemporary classroom.

Eight. Short. Years.

There’s no doubt that stepping away from something you’ve always done is scary. Teaching is what I’ve done for a very long time and I’m comfortable with it. I even think I’m reasonably good at it. It’s so easy to just keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s much harder to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

So here I go. Starting in January I’ll be working with many more teachers here in Australia and New Zealand, as well as other parts of the world too. I know I’ll probably see way too much of the inside of airplanes and I know I’ll miss the daily contact with students like crazy. But as Helen Keller once said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

The good part is that, along with my new colleagues, I’ll have the chance to work with teachers all over the world to create positive educational change and to help them see just how powerful learning can be with the right tools and ideas. I hope I get a chance to work with some of you over the next few years too.  Let’s change the world together.

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Categories: Planet
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