Archive for August, 2007

Using Your Digital Camera To Copy Materials for Your Smartboard


You can use your digital camera to help you copy materials (old books, magazine articles, ads, objects, etc.) for your classroom Smartboard.

When you are copying material (probably in your camera’s macro mode to get close), you might want to consider these hints:

Use a camera tripod, if possible, to steady the camera or lean against something solid like a door frame. Breathe in and hold your breathe as you snap the picture.

Remember to push the picture button half way until it locks the image and then push it the rest of the way down.

Shoot the picture in natural sunlight. Avoid shadows or changing sun patterns. Avoid noon day sun which can blanche out the material. If the sun is from an angle, you can shoot without getting your shadow in the picture. Turn off your flash.

Cover any excess material that is on the same page with a white or black paper. You only want your students to see the selected material.

Shoot parallel to the object. If you shoot at an angle, the material will look crooked and be harder to read. If you shoot at a slight angle, you may have to manipulate in an image manipulation program like GIMP.

Get in close. Try to get close enough or zoom in so that you have the page but not other things. Use a dark background just in case you cannot get in close. If you have too much background, you will have to crop the pictures in another program so shoot in tight the first time. Also, a distracting background can unfocus students.

If possible, take pages out of any binder; if you have a spare old book, cut the desired pages out of the book. Use a white paper clip to hold the pages down so the material is as flat as possible. You may need to put a heavy book on one side of a page to keep it down. Cover the book with black paper so the unnecessary parts do not show.

Take  a second picture just in case the first one was not get a great picture. The review mode of the camera probably will not show all the details.

Take the pictures in the order that you will show them.

Lower the resolution. You do not need an 8 megapixel version of the page.

When you move the images over to your computer, quickly rename them with a specific name so that you can find these images with all your other digital images. Create folders to categorize the images so you can find the material quicker.

If you have taken images from another source, move it over to an image manipulation program (PhotoShop like) and add a reference to the source.  If you do not do it immediately, you may soon forget the original source.

Once you or your students have done this, you can create a digital library that you can use in the classroom. Your students can interact with these valuable resources.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Spanish-Language Restaurant Menus For Culture and Conversation


The following is a list of Collective Commons (free to use in the classroom) pictures from Flickr that show various menus from Hispanic countries or locations that have Hispanic food. Students studying Spanish can come to understand the many different types of foods as well as the varieties within each type such as tacos. They can practice their ordering skills with real food and figure out their bill with real prices! Each web address is followed by a brief description.
Menu with Spanish and poor English translation +++
Menu Mexican divided by entrada, sopa, ensalada +++
Mexican Food Deli Menu
Yucatan Menu
Taco restaurant menu
Menu with ceviche
Menu from Caribbean
Puerto Rican Menu (general info)

How do you help students to learn about the variety of Hispanic foods through menus? How do you bring the Hispanic world into your classroom through technology?

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle

Spanish sports –Deporte

Spanish transportation Transportes


Spanish Language Menu



Nov. 2009 – If you are interested in trying out in your classroom some mini-speaking assessments (2-5) minutes that correspond to various parts of the ACTFL guidelines, please email me (harry.g.tuttle  at gmail) These short assessments  give you instant data/facts on your students’  present progress in speaking and you can re-administer these assessments  to see progress.  I have various assessments from vocabulary, asking and answering questions, asking critical questions about a topic, etc.  Let me know your level such as (Spanish 1- first year of Spanish).    Harry

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007





Scored Against Perfection

table setting scoring against perfection

My wife and I went to the New York State Fair. She enjoyed looking at the table setting judging. I looked at that detailed analytic scoring for the judging which each participant sees before the competition. The words that impressed was “scored against perfection”. Each entry received a rating number and statements that identified its strengthens and its areas for improvement.

I wonder how many of us “score against perfection” or do we score the number correct which may not be critical parts of student standard learning. Do we score each quiz, each test, each project, and each homework against the perfection (above proficient level) of the standard?

Do we record in a spreadsheet or our grade book these above proficient scores, those proficient scores, those progressing scores, and those beginning standards-based scores? Do we include formative comments for each so that we and the students can review them for improvement?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Standards-Based Sponge Activities


We use sponge activities to fill in time between activities or at the end of the period. How different would the students’ learning be if we used standards-based sponge activities? In an English Language Arts (ELA) class, the teacher could have a list of standards-based activities (similar to the state exam or covering district specified parts of the standards that are not covered on the state exam). She might:

Have students listen to a digitally recorded brief debate, take a side, and list their reasons to support it (New York State ELA Standard 1 Information).

Have students list their ten most common activities during their vacation, one per line, and then add an adverb to each line to create a poem (New York State ELA Standard 2 Personal Expression).

Have students list all the literature that they have read so far that has a certain theme such as love, man’s inhumanity to man, being true to one’s self, etc. (New York State ELA Standard 3 Theme Critical Analysis of Literature ).

Have a student pick a topic and list different people in the family and community (young children, same age, parent, grandparent, and civic leader) and students tell something about the topic to each different person in a way in which he/she would understand it ( (New York State ELA Standard Four Social Interactions-Various Audiences).

We can have these activities in a word processed document of sponge activities that we call up and pick the one to fit the time. When we project these activities for the students to see, they have all the structure they need to do them successfully. Not only do we fill up time but more important, we advance their learning in the standards!

How do you support the standards through sponge activities with technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


University Pressure on Students: Lack of Standards.

My Canadian cousin was telling me that certain universities require that a student have a 95 in specific subjects before they will accept him or her. Those universities are promoting the grade over learning struggle in education. How much better it would be if the universities required that students be above proficient in certain standards. However that would require that the universities were able to identify those standards or parts of certain standards that they deemed truly critical. If the universities could do that, then they could communicate it to public schools so that the teachers would know what the students had to achieve. As it is now, the universities do not specify what standards they require. The state exams are such a small sample of the standards that they do not really show a students’ progress in the standards. No wonder that public schools are unsure of what their students are to learn.

How do you express the standards to you students? How do you require them to achieve the standards to a high degree? How do you use technology to help them arrive at that high-degree of thinking for the standard?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Your Students’ Videos:Learning from YouTube examples

Video One or Many

A friend who has written over 20 books indicates that fewer people are turning to books for information; many turn to YouTube. They want to watch and hear about topics. He has watched numerous YouTube videos about his topic and has found that most are severely lacking content. He says that the creators seem to have only a very basic (at best) knowledge of the topic and yet they are creating videos that hundreds are watching. Furthermore, he adds that the creators seem to lack a sense of how this small part fits into the bigger view of the topic. To teach a complex skill takes a multitude of videos and yet the creators have only done a few basic ones which means the viewers cannot proceed in this skill. In addition, they have not presented the information from an experienced view of what to do and what not to do in the topic.

What type videos or podcasts do your students produce? Do they display in-depth knowledge of the topic? Do they produce several videos that take the viewer from the lower levels to the complex levels of thinking about the topic? Do they help the learners to avoid learning pitfalls in the topic? Do they scaffold the learning so that all can succeed? Do they take the learners to the bigger view of the topic?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Textbook PowerPoint or Student Technologies

Textbook PowerPoints or Student Technologies

I heard about a young lady who has the graduate assistant job of creating PowerPoints for the chapters of a textbook that her prof is writing. Although I am sure that she is very good at creating PowerPoints that cover the main points in the chapter, I’m not sure that PowerPoints may be the best way to communicate the information in the textbook. Are there some YouTube videos that can demonstrate the concepts better? Would a class wiki about each chapter’s information allow the class to add other related information to the topic so that they build a class community of knowledge about the topic? Would a series of short podcasts allow the students to select which topic they needed more information about? Would a series of images from Flickr displayed on a whiteboard allow the class to interact more with the material?

These textbook PowerPoints are “teacher” created so information is being given to the students. Why not have the students generate their own information, debate issues within the topic, challenge each other’s views, and come to a greater understanding of the topic.

Is your class one with you as the teach deliver PowerPoints or one in which students create their own information through various technologies?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Improving Reading Skills With Technology


I wrote another article on improving reading skills through technology, Ramping Up Reading With Technology. There are fourteen different easy-to-apply techniques. Try these out in your classroom so that your students can be better readers! Although the examples are in English, many of these will work in ESL and World Language classes.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Getting Students To Research a Topic Through YouTube Video


Although we can talk about a topic that we want our students to research, debate, agree/disagree with, do a documentary on, etc., we can motivate them by showing them a YouTube video about the topic. For example, you can show them the video, Spanish is Texas town’s official language, for motivation. Students can listen and write down the major points of both sides.
Then they can research this topic and related ones (Should some towns in Peru have Quecha as their official language although Spanish is the national language? How has Canada dealt with two languages both being the official language?) They can do Internet research, find other YouTube videos to support their side, interview people in person or electronically (email, IM, Skype, videoconferencing, etc.). They can present their factual and emotional evidence to support their view through PowerPoint, other YouTube videos, actual live interviews, their own YouTube video about the topic, a podcast, etc. English students and Social Studies students who hate to write an essay will eagerly do this assignment and then they can write it up in the state-rubric essay writing format.

One advantage of using a YouTube video is that the students can replay the video as often as they want to make sure that they understand the arguments on both sides. They can even style their response in the same or a similar format. They have the scaffolding of the video to help them as they check their information against the video.

How do you use YouTube to help students with their research?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Teach Culture Through YouTube: Your Students do it.


YouTube has much potential for our classes. Often we can re-envision something that was put up to serve our need to show other cultures.

Language classes can use these videos as can Global Social Studies classes. English classes can use them as writing prompts. Math classes can count certain things in the video such as how many similarities and differences there are. Or how many different forms of transportation were shown?

For example, you can show students a video of a city in the culture you want them to learn and then you can assign each of them (or they choose) a different city or different aspects (dance, music, business,etc.). They they can search YouTube for videos on that location; for example, they may search for Madrid, Spain. They find at least at least three videos and compare them. Which one has the best narration of the content of the video? Which one shows the widest variety of the city? They can select the one they want to show the class and they can add to it information that they obtained from the other videos. They can prepare study guides or comprehension activities.

How do you have your students use YouTube to bring culture into your classroom?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Instructional Direction,Standards, and Technology

State Assessments or Standards

The question for teachers in states where there are state assessments or even district finals is “What direction are you looking in?” If you rely on the results from the last year’s state assessment to determine what you will change in this year’s curriculum, you are looking backward. If you look at the standard and determine what you need to include in this year’s curriculum, you are looking forward. Yes, we need to quickly glance backward but then we need to focus on the forward direction.

We have many technology tools to help us face forward in the standards. We can use a word processor to modify last year’s units so that they are focused on the standards. We can use a word processor to modify our assessments so that they specifically assess the standards. We can blog, wiki, or skype with other teachers of our grade level or subject area so that we share resources and success stories. We can use online assessment programs (or survey programs) to get analyzed results of which questions students missed. We can use spreadsheets or databases to monitor student progress over the year to do what formative feedback they need to become proficient in the standard. We can face forward in standards- based learning through technology. We will not be stuck in our past.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


YouTube Songs for Spanish Learning


One way to make a World Language Class come alive is to play songs and clips. You can search YouTube for Spanish and find many songs, commercials, and movie clips.

Here’s a small sampling to share with your Spanish World Language teacher:

Jose Jose– songs in Spanish -his words are quite clear Jose Jose El Triste Jose Jose Exito Jose Jose Anda y Ve Jose Jose Amnesia

Musicals and famous songs are translated into Spanish High School Musical Breaking Free (with Spanish subtitle) Are others in this series Lion King We Are One (with Spanish subtitle) Yesterday (with Spanish subtitle) Cat Stevens Father and Son (with Spanish subtitle)


Anime, Movie, or Commericals Dragon Ball Z ending (with Spanish subtitles) – karaoke style Spanish Angelus-anime (with Spanish subtitles)-begins at 25 Star Troops (with Spanish subtitle) turn sound off Chad Vader Day Shift Manager (with Spanish subtitle) turn sound off

Why not make it an assignment that each student has to find three songs in Spanish done in the karaoke style (with the Spanish words written out) from YouTube and prepare listening comprehension questions on one of them? If they label each and give you the annotated links, you can have a huge selection within a very short period of time. They will enjoy listening and learning in Spanish.


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle

Spanish sports –Deporte

Spanish transportation Transportes

Spanish restaurant Restaurante


Spanish Language Menu

If you have ideas you would like to share about the problems that students have in being fluent speakers and, if possible, the possible solutions, please add as a comment.  For example,  some students can not keep a conversation focused on the topic – a solution is to start them with a series of pictures about the topic or for them to focus on a specific problem such as an ordering problem in a restaurant.



Formative Embedded Assessment vs Pre-assessment and post-assessment

Pre, Embedded, and Post Assessment

In a standards-based classroom, there are pre-assessments, embedded assessments, and post-assessments. However, the three are not equally divided. There are about 10% of pre-assessment, 80% of embedded formative assessments, and 10% of post-assessment. It is critical that there are the vast majority of embedded formative assessments so that you can monitor the progress of the students on a frequent basis. When you “dip-stick” the students’ progress on a regular basis, you can make adjustments to instruction so that they will be successful in the standard.

You can use your word processor to modify each embedded assessment so that it has the students demonstrate the standard but in a slightly different way each time. A math teacher can simply change the numbers in each problem so that the problem is the same except for the numbers. An English teacher can have students write about a different theme in a comparison essay for two works of literature.

How do you use technology to facilitate creating embedded assessments?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Student Self-Assessment and Improving Standards Learning

Self assessment

There are numerous ways that students can self-assess themselves.

1. Checklist. You can provide them with a specific standards-based checklist for a particular activity. If they do not have a check, they decide what they have to do to get the check. You can look over their checklist and record their results with a “1” if they have it and a “0” if they do not have it in your standards recording. You verify that you agree with their checks.

2. Rubric. Students self-assess during the mid-way and at the 3/4 point in a project on a standards-based rubric. Each time they are to rate themselves and specifically state what they will do to improve their score. Students keep track of their scores on a spreadsheet that also has their improvement comments in it. You verify that you agree with their ratings and make sure that their suggested improvements will actually result in doing better.

3. Comparison. Students compare their present work to the previous work to see which better demonstrates the standard. They explain which is better and why. They may put them both in a word process with comments after each. They suggest their own improvements to make the better one even better.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Student Accountability and Daily Performance

Student Learning

My wife is in a weight loss program where she keeps track of the points of each food she eats. At the end of the day, she tallies her points to see if she has kept within her limit so she can meet her goal. I admire her determination to improve herself.

Do we keep track of the learning points of our students and do a daily or mid-weekly tally of how well they are doing? How do we assess their learning on a regular basis on the standard? Do we embed assessments in the daily tasks that they do? Do we observe them against a standards-based checklist? Do we give them performance tasks to do that demonstrate how far they have progressed in the standard? Or do we cover the textbook which do does give any information on the standard?

Are you standards or textbook based? Do you give unit tests or standards-based assessments? Do you observe and record your students against the standard or do you circulate around the room? How do you keep track of the standard learning points of your students? How do you use technology to help you?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Student Accountability and Test Scores

While driving to my son’s, I saw a billboard that said something like, “You child is more than a test score.” I applaud the thought but wonder how true it is. How much do most teachers know about their students academically?

Imagine this conversation among two teachers. “How’s Billy in your class?” “He’s a poor student. He fails all the tests.” That conversation tells almost nothing about Billy. What standard area is he not doing well in? What specific part of the standard is his “downfall”? What can he do to improve? If we cannot give that information, then a student is only a test score to us.

Here are some suggestions:
Only give standards-based assessments
Make sure each assessment focuses on a particular component of the standard. You make take an old test and modify it with a word processor so that it focuses on a component of the standard.
Talk with students who did not do well to discover why they did not do well? Did they understand the question? Did they understand the standard component? Did they do something wrong in a procedure? Record their information in your word processed information about this standard so that the next time the students will not have these same problems.
Decide how what help and suggestions you can give those student who did not do well on the standards-based assessment. Record this information in your word processed information about this standard so that the next time you can give suggestions during the learning instead of after the unit assessment.

What else do you do to make a student more than a test score?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Full Engagement in Standards-Based Learning Through Technology

How engaged are our students in standards-based learning? Are they fully immersed in their learning like a Spanish student who is studying in a Spanish speaking country or are they just putting their toes in the water?

How do we use technology to fully immerse them?
Creating a PowerPoint may keep them busy but it may not fully immerse them in the standard. When students create a PowerPoint that argue their point of view and others react to their point of view, then they are fully immersed.

Doing a videoconference may be an exciting activity but it may not immerse them in arguing and debating the concepts involved in the standards.

Participating in a class blog can be a novel activity but it may lead to non-focused discussions. Doing a blog in which each student has to contribute and react to two other students in terms of the standard is a different experience.

Taking digital images of their classmates may be a fun use of a digital camera but that does not engage them in standards-based learning. Taking pictures of five different examples of geometric shapes in the school engages them in the standards.

How do you fully immerse your students in standards-based learning through technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Videoconferencing Effectiveness: Thrill or Learning?


In the USA Today article “Schools become virtual zoos” (Aug. 2, 2007, 6D), a teacher comments “I think it was really effective.” and another teacher says, “It is a wonderful experience.” Students respond with “Cool!” and “Neat!” The article was obviously a pro-virtual learning article.

However, no teacher mentioned that the students actually learned anything related to state standards. No teacher mentioned any activity that their students did to demonstrate their learning from the zoo visit. Is the focus of these videoconferences the thrill of seeing animals or the specific standards-based learning with measurable outcomes? Did the teachers select these videoconferences to improve the learning of their students or to give them a “great experience”? How closely does this virtual zoo visit match the teachers’ actual standards-based curriculum?

Virtual field trips can be wonderful educational experiences if the teachers’ standards-based curriculum determines the selection of the field trip, the learning outcomes of the trip, and the evaluation of the students’ learning.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Improving Student Learning Through Your and Their Technology Use

A colleague sent me an email about an article I had written. He complained that I included too much technology in the article. He does not think that teachers regularly use technology. When I used to work in a rural school, the new male teachers all spent their planning and lunch time on the library computers (comparing car prices and seeing sports results). They did not use technology in their classrooms.

Some questions are:

Do you use technology on a regular basis in your classroom (daily or weekly)?
Do your students use technology on a regular basis in your classroom (daily or weekly)?
How many different technology do you use during a quarter?
How many different technology do your students use during a quarter?
What are the advantages of each of these different technology?
When you use technology, do you use it mainly for Bloom’s lower level thinking activities (note taking, telling about) or mainly for Bloom’s higher level thinking (analysis, evaluate, synthesis)?
When your students use technology, do they use it for Bloom’s lower level thinking activities (note taking, telling about) or for Bloom’s higher level thinking (analysis, evaluate, synthesis)?

Do students consume material using technology or do they produce material using technology?

Do you use technology to take the students out of the four walls of the classroom (Internet searching does not count) or does your technology use keep them within the four walls of the classroom?

Does your technology use promote students knowing about their progress in the standards or does your technology use only give students their grades?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Is Your Curriculum Useful or Useless?

Abner J. Peddiwel’s (a.ka. Benjamin Bloom) The Saber-Tooth Curriculum depicts the necessity for life long learning (1939). He shows that as society changed, the school curriculum had remained fixed and, therefore, it did not help the students in their present or future lives. Today, as scientific and technological changes are happening at a rapid pace, the idea of life long learning becomes more critical. So many technologies exist now that did not exist even ten years ago such as cell phones, Skype videoconferencing, digital camera with movie capabilities, etc. Without life long learning, we will soon be teaching our own Saber-Tooth Curriculum.

How do you update yourself? How do you make sure that your curriculum deals with modern day events, concepts, language, ideas? Science is constantly changing, dinosaur facts are constantly being modified and corrected. As we learn more about another culture, we can better understand the literature and actions from that culture instead of looking at it from our “USA” perspective.


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007



Elaboration of Learning and Technology

Students need to go beyond the facts. They need to see how the facts or ideas are connected to other events, literature, experiments, etc. A part of the literature circle process is the connecting of what is happening to other things. Once students learn about a science concept, do they see how it is applied to real life? How do forces apply to a bridge collapsing? When students learn about conflicts for a US Civil War, do they compare those reasons to other civil wars? The Internet can provide many quick examples for many learning experiences. Students can talk with people in various professions via videoconferencing/Skype to find how principles are used in those occupations or how one thing is connected to another (How can water be thought of as the “next oil”?

How do you use technology to take students from the mere knowing to elaborating and connecting phase of learning? Do you use images and sounds to move students from mere facts to see the complexity and connectivity of learning?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


World Languages: Living in the Classroom Through Technology

I started off my career teaching Spanish. There were very few technologies available then. Today’s teachers of Spanish and other World Languages have available many technologies that help the language classroom to come alive.

Here are a few uses of technology that bring real language use into the classroom instead of technology that brings drill and practice into the classroom:

Watch satellite shows in the new language and answer questions about them.

Listen to Internet radio stations in the new language and analyze songs or newscasts.

Reading the newspapers in that language through various websites. Instead of reading boring and outdated textbook passages, students can read real information that is current and exciting.

Write via email/IM to students in other locations about societal issues, school concerns, etc. Students can be put in a common “class” in a Blackboard-like environment so that all of their conversations are archived.

Have regularly scheduled videoconferences with classes in other locations in that language.

Create presentations/emovies to share with the other language group/class who react to them or critique them.

What other uses of technology do you have to bring real language, not drill and practice, into the classroom so that our students use world languages as other speakers do?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Pretest Types

Pretests (diagnostic tests, baseline data tests) do not have to be complex. They do need to assess the standard or the standard component at its highest level of thinking. They do need to assess the comprehensive nature of the standard and the in-depth nature of the standard. There are several types of pretests:

1- Misconceptions. As you have planned the unit, you have thought about all the misconceptions that students in the past have displayed about this standard. You “test” for those misconceptions. You may have results from previous year’s tests to pinpoint difficulties students have had.

2-Content knowledge or skills. You ask probing higher level thinking questions about the standard or have students do a task to show their present skills. You only test at the highest level and in the same way that the state test tests it.

3- List of Performance Tasks. Students are given a list of performance tasks or subskills and they check off which ones they are very confident that they can do. Although this a perception pre-test, it helps the students to reflect on their own skills and knowledge and for you to see what they see as their strengthens and weaknesses.

4-Performance Tasks. Have students do a task to show their present level of skills. You only test at the highest level and in the same way that the state test tests it.

Use a spreadsheet to record their results and sort the information so that you can work on the weaker areas that the most students have demonstrated. Teach to what they need to know.

How do you use spreadsheets and other technology to help you in pretesting?


Final Exam – Supporting Curriculum or Waiting Until the Final?

Many years ago I went to Ecuador to travel for the summer. I dropped some things off at a friend’s daughter’s place in Quito and ended up teaching Social Studies for the summer in a mission school. There was no existing curriculum but there was a copy of the final. Since all I had was the final, I had to determine what the previous teacher had considered important. It became apparent that he had been concerned with comparing countries, geography, etc. One question was “How is Italy similar to and different from Japan?” So I decided to follow the previous teacher’s approach. Each student became an expert in a country from a certain area by reading the textbook and asking any missionary who had been to that country. As each student presented his/her country by displaying maps, artifacts, etc., the others chimed in with similarities and differences. Students made huge charts of the similarities and differences among the many countries. They looked for how each country was the same and different.

Upon returning to the USA, I talked with a Social Studies teacher friend. He quickly told me that in Social Studies teachers only cover one country at a time. He said that students would get confused if they thought about more than one country at a time. They do not compare and contrast until it is time to prepare for the final then they use concept mapping software to do many compares and contrasts.

What is your curriculum? One that constantly practices the essential skills throughout the year or one that waits until the end to do it? How do you use technology to prepare students throughout the year on the necessary end skills?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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