Exercise: It Does a Body and Brain Good!

What gets your heart pumping?  A sprint in the early morning dew? The latest thriller from your favorite author? Tackling an impossible puzzle?  Turns out getting your heart pumping can also build your brain!

So move over couch potato book worm, if you really want to build your intellect, start building you muscles!

Exercising Your Brain

Like your muscles, your brain needs to be stretched to stay in top form and to grow.  Reading, learning something new, practicing a skill, and playing intellectual games all help to stimulate your brain and make new connections.

Neuron pathways and synapse connections are how your brain builds and stays elastic. Keeping it healthy and strong.

The Workout Brain Connection

Your brain does not just need intellectual stimulation, it also thrives on physical activity. Our brains are ever growing and changing. Exercise induces the most critical part of this process, neurogenesis or the creation of neuron stem cells.

Guess what? Neurons do grow back — by the thousands — through a process called neurogenesis. They divide and propagate like cells in the rest of the body. Neurons are born as blank-slate stem cells, and they go through a developmental process in which they need to find something to do in order to survive. Most of them don’t. It takes about 28 days for a fledgling cell to plug into a network. If we don’t use the newborn neurons, we lose them. Exercise spawns neurons, and the environmental enrichment helps those cells survive. (source)

In addition to the creation of neuron stem cells, physical exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, aiding brain function.  Along with oxygen, hormone levels that govern various facets of brain development increase, while stress hormones decrease.  Both facilitating brain growth and positive emotional development.

That’s not all! The exercise brain connection also fuels corrective processes that actually heal the brain.  All of this is good news, it means our brains do not have to simply wither as we age, and brain damage has hope of repair through mental exercises and physical therapy.

What Exercises Are Best?

Ready to exercise your way to a healthier, smarter you?  You may be wondering which exercises are best.  Basically, if it is good for your heart, it will also be good for your brain.

Aerobic exercises, especially because of the increased oxygen in take, are a great place to start. These are easy to do and usually require no special equipment. Walking, running, swimming, and biking are examples of common aerobic exercises.

Kick your brain workout up a notch by choosing exercises that cross the mid-line of your body.  Cross lateral activity gets both sides of the brain communicating, stimulating greater growth and stronger connections. These exercises can be as simple as touching your left hand to your right toe.  A series of cross lateral stretches in the morning will have your brain awake and ready to learn something new.

 

Never Stop Growing, Just Keep Learning

At Global Learn Day, we celebrate the gift of learning at all ages, and promote life long learning as a foundational habit for everyone. As One Planet, One People lets support each others’ brain quest by providing encouragement and resources to keep our bodies and minds fit!

How will you exercise your brain today?

To learn more, please check out:
https://blog.brainbalance.com/blog/2016/06/crossing-midline-learning-differences
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201102/get-out-and-walk-your-brain-will-thank-you
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286387

 

 

 

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9 Reasons to Read with Your Ears

Have you ever read with you ears?  Yes, that’s right with your ears.  Just as the blind read with their fingers, your ears can read for you.  The function of reading is the transfer of information.  Regardless of how it is transferred, reading is a powerful skill and a gateway to lifelong learning.

Audio books and reading aloud provide a reading environment that is not only enjoyable but accessible to all students, regardless of age.  With advancing technology allowing downloads anywhere and easy portability of recordings, there are so many reasons to give audiobooks a try!

Here are nine ways that reading with you ears is beneficial–in some cases more so than reading with you eyes.

9 Benefits to Reading with Your Ears:

  1. Access to information: Anyone can listen to an audiobook.  Whether the “reader”is struggling with basic decoding or wants to read above his present ability, listening to a book–whether fiction or a textbook–opens the door to learn information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  2. Development of key skills: Listening to books being read aloud, increases fluency and develops comprehension skills. Both of these are vital to successful reading
  3. Common ground: In the classroom or the home, a audiobook levels the playing field. Everyone can have a shared reading experience regardless of ability. This allows families to bond over a great piece of literature. It also afford student, who may otherwise struggle, to become part of the conversation around her and participate in the culture of learning.
  4. Higher self-esteem and confidence: Being able to listen to a text helps to build confidence.  Struggling readers can easily accomplish what may otherwise seem impossible. Being able to read and discuss a book boosts self-esteem.
  5. Fostering a love of reading and storytelling: Storytelling is a lost art that served as great entertainment in days gone by.  Listening to a story, helps to increase the love of reading by drawing the listener in to the magic of the written word.
  6. Richer vocabulary: Audiobooks develop vocabulary for all readers. A wider vocabulary allows for better comprehension of books read with the eyes, also.
  7. More time to read: Life is busy in the modern world.  People have little time to just sit and relax with a good book.  Audiobooks can easily be transported wherever you go.  In addition, they can be enjoyed while accomplishing mundane tasks, such are washing dishes or commuting to work.
  8. Increased listening skills: Listening is essential to reading.  Comprehension is reliant on the reader being able to listen to the story he is reading in his head and understanding.  Listening skills are important and needed in every facet life.
  9. Fueling imagination: Books have wings and time machines. A good book draws the reader into the story in a way that it becomes real.  Audiobooks and read alouds intensify this experience by freeing the readers mind to get lost in the text without having to think of the mechanics of reading.

What have you read with your ears lately?

For more information, check out:

Audiobooks help raise reading scores

5 Infographics that depict the importance of audiobooks

Audiobooks offer unexpected benefits

The Benefits of Audiobooks

 

 

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Education Has Flipped Out!

Has your classroom flipped?  Like desks on the ceiling you might ask.  No, flipped in terms of structure and instruction.  Flipped education is the latest trend but how is it really done?

The History of the Flip

Though the general idea dates back to a thesis paper from University of Miami professors in 2000. Although the true flipped learning movement took really took root in 2007 when Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, Colorado High School teachers, began using technology to record their lectures for absent students.

Shortly after, they came up with the idea of prerecording all their lectures for students to view at home, so classroom time could be spend on in depth projects and collaborative learning.  Originally called pre-broadcasting, it eventually became known as a flipped classroom.

What It’s Flipping Not!

As the trend has grown, so has the misconceptions of it’s aim and practice.  Flipped education does not simply mean watching videos and answering multiple choice questions.  Neither does the idea of “school work at home, homework at school” capture the true essence of the technique.

The recorded classes are a means to the method’s end but not the whole method.  The technology serves the purpose to make flipping possible but does not define the shift in educational practice.

Reservations and Requirements

One of the top concerns with starting a flipped classroom is the requirement for all students to have the Internet at home.  However, founders Sams and Bergmann say the Internet should never be a sticking point.

Videos can be loaded onto thumb drives, burned onto CDs, or uploaded to Ipods.  In addition, students should have the option of how they will learn the material.  Learning the material from a textbook or series of worksheets is just as valid as from a video.  The importance is how classroom time is spent.

Classroom Time in a Paradigm Shift

Flipped classrooms provide the space and time for teachers to interact on a more interpersonal level with students.  Affording students to indulge in project based learning, hands-on activities, lab experiments, and collaborative experiences.

Instead of the teacher being the center of the classroom time, learning and projects are.  The teacher becomes a facilitator as opposed to a lecturer.

Four Pillars of a FLIP

Authentic flipped education contains these four elements:

  1. Flexible Environment
  2. Learning Culture
  3. Intentional Content
  4. Professional Educator

With these four elements and a drive to provide accessible resources for student led study outside of classroom and student driven learning within the classroom walls, flipped education has the potential to revolutionize schools.

All of this innovation and initiative is aimed at one very dire epidemic–the high school drop our rate.  In the United States alone, 7,200 students drop out of high school each day.  That leads to 1.3 million young adults with incomplete educations every year.

By engaging students in meaningful learning and exciting class sessions, teachers like Sams and Bergmann hope to retain those who just are not being reached by the traditional model of lecture, homework, testing.  In addition, self directed learning leads to lifelong learning, the ultimate goal of any education.

What do you think?  Are you ready to flip?

 

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Fun with Learning – The Raven

Recently, I was able to participate in a Global Learn Day Story time at our 2017 partner, Baby Cotton Bottoms. Education is fun for me, especially when I am able to work with people who are fully engaged. Excitement about a project often breeds the best educational opportunities!

So, as I planned our event for #GLD2017, I selected a children’s book I had not seen before. I chose “Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart” by Jennifer Adams. It is one of the Baby Lit First Steps Books that you can purchase through Baby Cotton Bottoms. To go with our story time, we needed a fun craft that kids and bystanders could work on. I loved the spooky theme of the book and tied it in with Halloween to create this!

These make great trick or treat bags and Halloween gift bags!

To make one…

  • Buy a pack of white or brown plain gift bags.
  • Black stick on felt paper. (These come in two packs – you can easily make a dozen with one pack.)
  • A stencil or cut out for the raven (we got ours here!)
  • Puff paint or other art supplies. (We had pipe cleaners, markers, extra scraps of the paper and google eyes in addition to the puff paint!)

To make things easy for our #GLD2017 event, I prearranged everything. Then, during the event we were able to read our story, which you can watch here and work on our craft. The kids had a blast!

Their finished products were each unique and one little girl even decided to take home supplies for her friend!

And just like that, we had introduced children to Poe and Literature while they had FUN!

Did you enjoy this craft or book? Let us know!

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Learning Beyond the Books

Education matters.  It changes lives and ultimately changes the world.  Global Learn Day is committed to promoting education and inspiring learning. However, we often only think of education as book learning, focusing on the core school subjects.  This however is a narrow view of how we must educate our child and ourselves.

Life Skills Matter, Too

Life skills are essential to every human being.  They are the learning that is often passed on through families and tradition.  These hands on lessons are so very important and no less worthy of time than quantum physics.

STEM lessons may be what creates the next big invention, but life skill learning is what keeping the world going.

What Are Life Skills?

Life skills are those abilities that are needed to live a productive life. They are often not quantitative achievements and so are often overlooked in the modern push for rank and reward. However, mastery of life skills will not only make living in the world as an independent adult possible but will also enhance your employability, despite not being featured on your transcript.

Some examples of life skills are:

  • cooking
  • basic repairs
  • personal care
  • planning
  • public speaking
  • time management
  • stress management
  • self awareness
  • note taking
  • problem solving
  • ingenuity
  • conflict resolution
  • negotiation
  • nutrition and meal preparation
  • budgeting
  • bookkeeping
  • house keeping
  • gardening

These are just a sampling of knowledge that enhances your life and gives you an edge in the work force.  While some of these may seem obsolete in the digital age, being self-sufficient leads to a better understanding of the world around you and the ability to navigate pitfalls more easily. In addition, working with your hands lends itself to innovation by fueling creativity.

The Mother of All Invention

We have all heard the phrase that “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” This is mostly true and need most definitely inspires new answers to problems. However, another, often ignored, skill goes hand in hand with invention. It is making do.

In the progressive and prosperous western culture, this skill is rapidly being lost.  The illusion of unlimited resources leads many to consume continually instead of conserve.

Making do involves using what you have to get what you need.  It is a side effect of becoming self reliant.  Life skills lend themselves to creating individuals who are more resilient and capable to care for themselves. As One Planet, One People, these skills are not only a boon to our own future, but a gift to the world around us. Consuming less and understanding more aids the life of everyone around the world.

Another R to Learn

With the race to become the best in STEM and technology, we must not forget the less flashy learning that is essential to our survival as a civilization and a global community. Self-Reliance and self-sufficiency skills need to be taught along with the 3 R’s and STEM to create whole, productive, adults for the future–a future of peace and prosperity for all.

Families, schools, and communities must to find ways to pass on these abilities to build creative and competent citizens of tomorrow.

How can you pass on life skill wisdom?

 

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When Should Education End?

Education Road Maps

There are many theories and much debate about when education should begin.  On one side there is a push for earlier and earlier learning, formal studies beginning in the toddler years.  On the other, there are proponents of delayed study beginning at age seven or later.  In all of this back and forth, the question of when education ends is not addressed.

At the start of formal schooling, children are presented with a road map of how to make it to the end of their school career with several exit points and choices along the way.  Make it through high school and then choose a trade school or college to attend. Have you earned your bachelors degree? Well you could continue to a masters or doctorate, or jump into your career.

What Is Required of Me?

Much of this plan is based on checklists and diplomas. Do this and get that. Is that the goal of education, though?

Education is the passing on and accumulation of skills and knowledge.  While learning is often a means to an end, it has value beyond getting a career or earning degrees.

An Education of Your Dreams

If you could learn anything what would it be?  Is there something you have always wanted to try?  Maybe you dream of being able to play the guitar. Or have you always wanted to speak Russian?  Is there a craft you admire and wish you knew how to make? How about a home improvement task that you wish you didn’t have to hire someone to do?

Education is learning, not school. It is a lifelong process to shape your abilities, interests, and understanding of the world.  While formal education is a linear process to a pre-determined goal, true education is integral to the life process.

When Is It Too Late?

The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has derailed many an aspiring learner.  It is never too late to learn. Never too late to complete a learning task, and surely never too late to begin. Learning may take longer and be more difficult to fit into your daily life but that does not diminish its value, nor preclude it from happening at any age.

Today is the best day to begin your education.  Begin today and continue tomorrow.  Continue your education for career. Learn a new craft, skill, or trade.  Educate yourself about subject matters you do not understand. Study history. Investigate politics and world news.  Pick up a work of literature you have never read.  Whatever you choose, there is no wrong choice in furthering your education. Anything that you learn becomes a new jewel to line your pockets.

The Real Worth of Education

Not all education will earn you higher wages, but every bit of learning will make you richer in life, independence, and understanding.  Education is not a piece of paper to hang on your wall, it is a process to enrich your mind that provides resources that can never be taken from you.

When does education end?  The real answer is when you let it, because learning is a gift you give to yourself each day.  Change the world–learn something new today!

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Five Reasons to Learn Another Language

Our world is shrinking. Not the physical world, but our connectedness and interdependence is bringing the far reaches of our planet right to our door step.  Global commerce and increased ease of travel, not to mention virtual communication, are creating a future where circumnavigating the globe will not only be possible at lightening speed, but necessary to maintain business and political relations on a daily basis.

Google Translate Is All I Need

With advances in Artificial Intelligence and intuitive software, the ability of computer generated translation has skyrocketed.  New programs are able to translate in real time via voice recognition. This leads many to believe that learning a second or third language is obsolete.

Just as understanding of geography and map skills should never be replaced with reliance on GPS systems, learning a foreign language can never be usurped by an app on your phone.  Technology has limitations. Even the best software will not be correct 100% of the time.  In addition, technology can fail due to user error, loss of power, or computer viruses.

The need for another language is growing, not shrinking. Here are five reasons why you should start to learn a new language today!

  1. Job Prospects: Knowing a second language has huge career advantages.  It not only makes you more employable, leading to greater choice of jobs in a difficult economy, being bi-lingual provides for higher salaries as well.  Employees able to speak more than one language are great assets to companies competing in the global marketplace.
  2. Brain Power: Learning something new is the best exercise for your brain. Moreover, language learning is the apex of brain development. Learning another language not only flexes your gray matter to keep it in top shape, it helps to stave off brain related disease such as Alzheimer and Dementia. By creating an infrastructure of multiple neural pathways, learning and using a second language has been show to push off development of brain disorders by over 4.5 years!
  3. Cultural Understanding: Learning the language of a country or region not only opens doors of communication but immerses you in the nuances of the culture. Language is a living organism. It grows, changes, and adapts to the ways and history of the people who speak it.  By learning the language, you will understand the people’s culture and be more able to interrelate on a personal level.  You will become integrated into the experience instead of just looking from the outside in!
  4. Understand Your Native Tongue: Since a first language is always acquired organically, the use of grammar is something that is understood and rarely analyzed. However, by studying a second language, you will gain an appreciation and proficiency in your native language that cannot be learned otherwise.  This leads to better communication in both languages and improved writing and reading skills.
  5. Build Bridges to New Gateways Where could another language take you? Anywhere you want!  Our technology affords us the opportunity to travel without passport or plane ticket. Features such as Skype, Facebook, and Youtube open the door to the world–a rich world full of endless learning possibilities.  Language learning is the key to this pathway, for if you get to the door but don’t know the secret password (in this case understanding to the target language) even the best technology will leave you out in the cold.

As One Planet, One People, let’s work for not only greater interdependence but greater understanding.  Learning is not a one way street. What you learn not only enriches your life, but connects you to others and builds bridges.

To where will you build a bridge today?

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Fractions Are a Piece of Cake

Mathematics and the Arts

Hands up for Hands-on

Education circles have made great strides in creating hands-on learning experiences for kids.  STEM challenges, math manipulatives, and makers stations are just some ways our schools have transformed to embrace different learning styles. At the same time, though, the practical and fine arts have lost their footing in priority, sometimes being cut all together.

However, these labor intensive fields are the true core to hands-on learning.  Science, mathematics, problem solving, and engineering are all practiced through the traditional arts courses.  The key really is to incorporate the disciplines.  A true liberal arts education has the benefit of covering every discipline so that connection can be made and all parts of the brain exercised.

How Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Do you know how to cook or bake?  How did you learn? Cooking is a science and an art.  It incorporates the principles of STEM while lending itself to creative exploration.  A life skill, cooking also teaches self confidence and independence. Let’s look at three reasons why cooking may be the perfect addition to your STEM project repertoire.

Struggling with Fractions? Bake a Cake!

Fractions are one of those “Why do we have to learn this?” topics for many children. It can be hard to grasp that the bigger the bottom number the small the fraction.  However, knowledge of fraction is essential to baking. Not only that, but using measuring spoons and cups give a hands-on, visual lesson in what each fraction actually means.

Once your students have mastered reading the fractions and choosing the correct tool to measure them, up the anty.  What if you double the recipe? How about cut in half?  What if you convert all the measurements into 16ths?  A simple cake recipe becomes a lesson in multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction of fractions without the endless stacks of worksheets.  Best yet, at the end of the lesson, there is sweet victory to share if the calculations are correct. Now that is motivation to learn!

Order Operations Pizzas

Can you follow a recipe? Doing things in the correct order and quantities is essential for recipes to work.  The first time I made chocolate chip cookies, I just dumped all the ingredients in the mixer and baked. What came out of the oven tasted good, but was nothing like cookies. Order and procedure are important.

If you are trying to teach order of operations and getting moans and groans that it shouldn’t matter, make a pizza together as a class.  First give the students ingredients and measurements but no written recipe and ask them to make pizza dough. This can be done in small groups.  A recipe can easily be cut down to not waste so many ingredients and reduce the risk of huge messes from flour.

After their “dough” has been created ask them what they think about how well it would make a pizza.  Segue to reason to follow order.  Demonstrate how the same ingredients when combined in the correct order and procedure create a perfect crust.

Once the dough is ready; stretch, top, and bake. Serve up some lunch with a side of lessons.

Master Chef and the Secret Ingredient

As much as baking is a science, cooking is a scientific art.  While there are certain procedures and rules to follow, there is also more room for creativity.  Have you ever held a cook off?  What would students do if they were given 5 secret ingredients and had to make snack?

Cooking experiments are part hypothesis and part ingenious creativity. Have an easy recipe to make in class–what if one of the ingredients is missing and five other choices are in their place?  There’s garlic powder, all spice, black pepper, paprika, and sage on the shelf, what to do?  If you are making banana bread, all spice is the best option, but for chili it may be paprika.

How will they choose which one to pick.  Why does that one fit what is being made?  Hypothesis, experimentation, conclusion! Creatively solving problems in cooking can lead to better building of bridges later.  Life skills and STEM go hand in hand.

What kind of lesson can you cook up today?

 

 

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Where in the World? Building Map Skills

Globetrotting on a Map

Our planet is so vast. From mile high peaks to low lying islands, arctic tundra to arid rain forests.  The beauty and splendor is amazing.  This breathtaking canvas is occupied by 7.6 billion people and organized by the invisible borderlines of 195 countries. How many could you find on an unlabelled map?

Exploring a map or atlas is an adventure in itself.  The different names, the topography, the climates and animal habitats all weave a tapestry like none other.  As One Planet, One People, we have so much in common but, also so much to share that makes us each unique.  Understanding our world begins with understanding our globe!

Why Learn Map Skills?

With the advent of GPS our reliance on technology has decreased our perceived need to learn how to read a map.  Moreover, not only are we not versed in how to uses maps, but are less likely to even encounter one.

Map skills are still an important ingredient to understanding your surroundings and the world at large.  When listening to the news, our knowledge of geography helps us better understand where items of interest are happening and how they could effect other parts of the world.

How to Build Better Map Skills

The easiest way to learn more about maps of the world is to spend time exploring them.  Hear a geographic name you don’t recognize?  Look it up!  Not sure which countries border an area in conflict? Pull out an atlas and find out.

Here are four other projects to build map skills for young and old:

  1.  Google up some geography. While technology has made us less able to self-orient, it has also opened doors to experiencing geography like never before. Instead of just a static drawing or photograph in a book, interactive maps, such as Google Earth, brings the maps to life.  Spending time exploring and “voyaging” via Google Earth you can become a globetrotter right from your living room. There are numerous projects online to enhance your learning.
  2. Build the world by hand! Making a globe by hand is a great way to gain an understanding of where places are and how they relate to each other.  Globes can be made from pumpkins, paper mache, styrofoam balls, or printable that are assembled.
  3. Map what you read. Find locations mentioned in the books, and news that you read.  Learn more about the area around the point you discovered.  Get a wall map and mark each of these spots to keep track of your reading travel.
  4. Play a game. Playing games, both board games and video games, that include travel is a fun and easy way to learn more geography. Puzzles, as well, turning playing into learning. Try some of these:

Where will you explore today?

 

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What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the latest trend in education but what exactly is it?

Gamification involves bringing game elements to ordinary or already established practices.  The use of gaming technology to teach attracts many students who are more enticed by video games than textbooks.  Games can be used for teaching, studying, practice, and assessment.

Gamification creates scenarios of challenge and reward that shape behavior and expand skills.  These techniques have become common place in marketing, self-improvement, even politics. With schools attempting to engage a generation born into the digital world, these techniques provide an opportunity to draw in those children that are struggling or otherwise not interested.

Why Gamify School?

As stated above, gamifying appeals to many students.  It creates a level playing field, also, since students are working to their abilities and progress at their own pace.  Working independently helps remove stigma and encourage students to keep going to earn more rewards.

The elements of any game, digital, card, or board, that make you want to keep playing even when you don’t win is the key to how and gamifying works. Reaching those who would otherwise be disengaged is the main goal.

To Game or Not to Game?

How Do I Gamify My Classroom?

You may be sold on the idea but where to start.  The idea of creating levels, rewards, interactive interfaces, and score keeping software can be overwhelming.  Thankfully, there are many resources online.

Gamification does not just involve using games or technology within the classroom.  The overriding principle is to entice students to learn by using gaming concepts such as rewards, points, do-overs, the opportunity to fail and start over, interaction, choice, instant results, and expanding capabilities.

There are services online who can create a gamified class for you. There are also numerous tutorials and youtube videos to help you along the way. The greatest advice to doing this is plan ahead of time and don’t be afraid to just try it!

Gaming in School

Playing educational games is not something new to education.  It has existed for many years, gamification take it to a new level by making the entire class part of a gaming system.

Gamification can be very expensive and requires a large investment of time and effort on the part of the teacher. Both of these may make it impractical for some schools.  However, applying some of the gaming principles outside of the digital design can still help to engage those students in need of additional motivation.

Motivating students to keep learning and want to do better is the first step in becoming a lifelong learner.  Gamification could be the tool to achieve this in your classroom.  For more information about gamifying your class, please visit our Pinterest board Technology in Education.

 

 

 

 

 

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