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633 Search Results for ""professional development""

  • Re: PD 360 Re: PD 360

    • From: Sue_Beach
    • Description:

      We use video streaming as enrichment either during the workshop or between workshops for those who want additional information. The challenges to using this type of resource during a workshop is the web access, possible buffering issues, and inability of individual users to navigate their way to the resources. Necessary supports need to be in place to meet these particular needs. We are trying to scaffold and support the inquiry approach as much as possible, but do sometimes point individuals at content

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 64
    • Forum: Differentia...
  • PD 360 PD 360

    • From: Rodney_Winslow
    • Description:
      What is the response of teachers/administrators to using video streaming for professional development? I have been exposed to the website and I see a lot of benefits. It has a lot of information. However, it must be used consistently and effectively with regards to implementation of ideas. What steps have you taken in your district to do this?
    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 11
    • Forum: Differentia...
  • Best Practices in Critical, Co Best Practices in Critical, Constructive Thinking, Professional Development on Best Practices

    • From: Robert_Ryshke
    • Description:

      I am thoroughly enjoying this conversation.  I hear the question being asked, "what do we mean by critical thinking?"  Is it problem-solving, is it constructive in nature, does it involve deep thinking?  There are many quesitons being asked in this discussion.

      I have learned a great deal from Susan Brookhart's book, Assessing Higher Order Thinking Skills.  See her book at:

      3 years ago

    • Views: 763
    • Forum: 21st Centur...
  • Professional Collaboration Professional Collaboration

    • From: Jim_Smith
    • Description:

      A healthy building climate is dependent on collaboration.  However, collaboration happens only when it is a planned part of the school day.  Buildings which support collaboration with common planning time, mentoring programs, meaningful staff development and a climate which encourages risk taking and thinking out of the box can lead to an exciting work environment and professional practice.  The problem is that these activities are expensive and seen as secondary to the task at hand of pro

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 61
    • Forum: School Clim...
  • Collaboration and Professional Collaboration and Professional Learning Communities

    • From: Simon_Quattlebaum
    • Description:
      Great question. Indeed, research indicates that new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of their teaching assignments. Collaboration, the formation of PLCs, and collegial conversations will help to maintain new teacher effectiveness. As my dissertaion research moves me farther into professional development for new teachers, I have found that teachers (both new and experienced) should: * Seek shared leadership with principals with instructional leadership responsibilities * Profe
    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 30
    • Forum: School Clim...
  • Online Learning Networks Online Learning Networks

    • From: Jacek_Polubiec
    • Description:

      One of the tools for the 21 Century learning, teaching and leadership which I am most fascinated with are the online learning networks (such as ning). In addition to spreading like a wildfire, they provide a great access point into many Web 2.0 tools (blogs, Wikis, Message Boards ect.).  The question to ask right now is how can we use learning networks to transform what we do in schools? I am going to try to use them as a source of professional development as an asynchoneous adult learning tool for

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 1596
    • Forum: 21st Centur...
  • Interesting idea . . . Interesting idea . . .

    • From: Robert_Payne
    • Description:

      I am just in the investigation stage of looking at how something like Ning can be used to build online learning networks/communities.  The professional development ideas is a good one, I will be interested to hear how it works.  One of the things I have been thinking about for sometime, is the "networking" aspect of being "social".  We all know that many of the professional jobs are not gathered through your classified ad section of your local newspaper.  Everyone tells you to "networ

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 218
    • Forum: 21st Centur...
  • L2L Web Seminar Series Archive L2L Web Seminar Series Archive

  • The Neuroscience of Joyful Edu The Neuroscience of Joyful Education

    • From: Judy_Willis
    • Description:

      Published in Educational Leadership

      Summer 2007 | Volume 64

      Engaging the Whole Child


        The Neuroscience of Joyful Education


      Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.


      Most children can't wait to start kindergarten and approach the beginning of school with awe and anticipation. Kindergartners and 1st graders often talk passionately about what they learn and do in school. Unfortunately, the current emphasis on standardized testing and rote learning encroaches upon many students' joy. In their zeal to raise test scores, too many policymakers wrongly assume that students who are laughing, interacting in groups, or being creative with art, music, or dance are not doing real academic work. The result is that some teachers feel pressure to preside over more sedate classrooms with students on the same page in the same book, sitting in straight rows, facing straight ahead.


      Supporting Good Teaching Practices with Neuroscience

      The truth is that when we scrub joy and comfort from the classroom, we distance our students from effective information processing and long-term memory storage. Instead of taking pleasure from learning, students become bored, anxious, and anything but engaged. They ultimately learn to feel bad about school and lose the joy they once felt.


      My own experience as a neurologist and classroom teacher has shown me the benefits of joy in the classroom. Neuroimaging studies and measurement of brain chemical transmitters reveal that students' comfort level can influence information transmission and storage in the brain (Thanos et al., 1999). When students are engaged and motivated and feel minimal stress, information flows freely through the affective filter in the amygdala and they achieve higher levels of cognition, make connections, and experience “aha” moments. Such learning comes not from quiet classrooms and directed lectures, but from classrooms with an atmosphere of exuberant discovery (Kohn, 2004).

      The Brain-Based Research


      Neuroimaging and neurochemical research support an education model in which stress and anxiety are not pervasive (Chugani, 1998; Pawlak, Magarinos, Melchor, McEwan, & Strickland, 2003). This research suggests that superior learning takes place when classroom experiences are enjoyable and relevant to students' lives, interests, and experiences.


      Many education theorists (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1982) have proposed that students retain what they learn when the learning is associated with strong positive emotion. Cognitive psychology studies provide clinical evidence that stress, boredom, confusion, low motivation, and anxiety can individually, and more profoundly in combination, interfere with learning (Christianson, 1992).


      Neuroimaging and measurement of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) show us what happens in the brain during stressful emotional states. By reading glucose or oxygen use and blood flow, positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicate activity in identifiable regions of the brain. These scans demonstrate that under stressful conditions information is blocked from entering the brain's areas of higher cognitive memory consolidation and storage. In other words, when stress activates the brain's affective filters, information flow to the higher cognitive networks is limited and the learning process grinds to a halt.


      Neuroimaging and electroencephalography (EEG) brain mapping of subjects in the process of learning new information reveal that the most active areas of the brain when new sensory information is received are the somatosensory cortex areas. Input from each individual sense (hearing, touch, taste, vision, smell) is delivered to these areas and then matched with previously stored related memories.


      For example, the brain appears to link new words about cars with previously stored data in the category of transportation. Simultaneously, the limbic system, comprising parts of the temporal lobe, hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex (front part of the frontal lobe), adds emotional significance to the information (sour flavor is tasty in lemon sherbet but unpleasant in spoiled juice). Such relational memories appear to enhance storage of the new information in long-term memory (Andreasen et al., 1999).


      Mapping studies of the electrical activity (EEG or brain waves) and neuroimaging show the synchronization of brain activity as information passes from the somatosensory cortex areas to the limbic system (Andreasen et al., 1999). For example, bursts of brain activity from the somatosensory cortex are followed milliseconds later by bursts of electrical activity in the hippocampus, amygdala, and then the other parts of the limbic system (Sowell et al., 2003). This enables us to evaluate which strategies either stimulate or impede communication among the various parts of the brain (Shadmehr & Holcomb, 1997).

      RAD Lessons for the Classroom


      A common theme in brain research is that superior cognitive input to the executive function networks is more likely when stress is low and learning experiences are relevant to students. Lessons that are stimulating and challenging are more likely to pass through the reticular activating system (a filter in the lower brain that focuses attention on novel changes perceived in the environment). Classroom experiences that are free of intimidation may help information pass through the amygdala's affective filter. In addition, when classroom activities are pleasurable, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the memory centers and promotes the release of acetylcholinem, which increases focused attention.


      The acronym RAD can remind educators of three important neuroscience concepts to consider when preparing lessons:


          * Novelty promotes information transmission through the Reticular activating system.

          * Stress-free classrooms propel data through the Amygdala's affective filter.

          * Pleasurable associations linked with learning are more likely to release more Dopamine.


      There are no neuroimaging or brain wave analysis data that demonstrate a negative effect of joy and exuberance in classrooms, yet some schools have unspoken mandates against these valuable components of the classroom experience. Now that hard science proves the negative effects of stress and anxiety, teachers can more confidently promote enthusiasm in their classrooms.

      Planning for the Ideal Emotional Atmosphere


      Although it is valuable for teachers to be familiar with neuroscientific research and pass relevant findings along to education stakeholders, it is crucial that educators use classroom strategies that reflect what we know about the brain and learning. So how can teachers create environments where anxiety is low while providing enough challenge and novelty for suitable brain stimulation?


      Make it relevant.

      When stress in the classroom is getting high, it is often because a lesson is overly abstract or seems irrelevant to students. Teachers can reduce this type of stress by making the lesson more personally interesting and motivating. Ideally, students should be able to answer the question, “Why are we learning about this?” at any point in a lesson.


      Teachers can find valuable background materials and human interest connections in textbooks published in the 1990s, before many publishers dropped such information to make room for practice test questions. The Internet is a source of many teacher-shared lesson plans and links to Web sites that provide resources for student activities and information databases that bring the more fact-heavy lessons to life. These are just a few Web sites that teachers can mine for ideas:


          * The Jason Project: a multimedia, interdisciplinary science program for grades 4–9, www.jasonproject.org

          * NASA Education: resources and information for K–12 teachers, http://education.nasa.gov

          * PBS Teachers: multimedia resources for preK–12 educators, www.pbs.org/teachersource

          * A to Z Teacher Stuff: a teacher-created site designed to help teachers find online resources, http://atozteacherstuff.com

          * Edhelper: theme units, lesson plans, and worksheets, www.edhelper.com


      It is not always possible to explain the immediate relevance of every lesson. In math, for example, students must master certain skills before they can go on to investigate larger, more clearly relevant topics. One way to increase the emotional connection is by adapting word problems so that they include the names of students, popular celebrities, historical figures, or sports heroes. Similarly, problems about interest rates can relate to purchasing something the students would want to buy, such as an iPod or new sneakers. Students can learn about decimal place values by calculating batting averages to the thousandth place.


      Language arts teachers can combine lessons on formal letter writing with a study of ethics or advertising. Students select a television commercial or print ad they judge to be misleading and write a letter expressing that opinion to the company in question. Students can compare historical fact and fiction by reading texts, examining primary sources, and viewing movies.


      In science classes dealing with the differences between mixtures and solutions, students can predict which liquids in their homes are mixtures and which are solutions. At home, they test their predictions by seeing which items are in separate layers until shaken. Or instead of just studying facts about pollution, students can learn to take and test water samples (www.baylink.org/lessons/3fr_pollution.html).


      When a lesson or block of lessons is full of facts to memorize, students will often feel less stress when they see an intrinsic reward for their efforts, such as using the facts they've mastered as a tool for participating in a more appealing activity. For example, when students know the metric to standard measurement conversions, they can “translate” a recipe from a cookbook that uses metric measures into the quantities they need in U.S. standard measurements to prepare cookie dough in class.


      Give them a break-a syn-naps.

      Just like adults, students can reduce stress by enjoying hobbies, time with friends, exercise, or music. Even though schools are shortening recess, physical education, art, drama, and even lunchtime to add more time for core subjects, teachers can give students a three-minute vacation to reduce stress. Any pleasurable activity used as a brief break can give the amygdala a chance to cool down and the neurotransmitters time to rebuild.

      Create positive associations.


      Eliminating all stress from students' lives is impossible. However, even if previous classroom experiences have led to associations that link certain activities, such as memorizing multiplication tables, to a stress response from the amygdala, students can benefit from revisiting the activity without something negative happening. By avoiding stressful practices like calling on students who have not raised their hands, teachers can dampen the stress association.


      Students can develop positive associations with multiplication by practicing it with a positively reinforcing strategy. For example, they might first review the table for multiplying by eight, then fill in blanks on a worksheet and immediately check each written answer with a calculator. If the answer is correct, the student experiences instant positive reinforcement. If the answer is incorrect, the student sees the right answer on the calculator—a much more pleasurable experience than hearing a classmate call out the answer before the student can even begin to compute it.


      In a similar way, students can build on their neurochemical memories of positive feelings if they have opportunities to recognize and savor their successes. A posted “Personal Goal Achievement” list, for example, acknowledges all students' successes. Students set personal goals, such as learning a specific multiplication table, and their names go on this list when they achieve their goals. Unlike the more typical competitive list of scores or lists of students who have mastered specific skills, this goal achievement list includes only the names of students who have met their goals, not the actual goals themselves.

      Prioritize information.


      It is helpful for teachers to guide students in learning how to prioritize information—how to decide what facts are worthy of writing down and reviewing when studying. When teachers demonstrate and explain how they determine which facts are important, students see how to make those judgments for themselves as they read texts and study. Helping students learn how to prioritize and therefore reduce the amount of information they need to deal with is a valuable stress-buster.


      Allow independent discovery learning.

      Thanks to dopamine release and the consolidation of relational memories, students are more likely to remember and understand what they learn if they find it compelling or have a part in figuring it out for themselves. In addition, when students have some choices in the way they will study or report on something, their motivation will increase and stress will diminish. They will be more accepting of their errors, motivated to try again, and less self-conscious about asking questions.


      A Safe Haven

                  Classrooms can be the safe haven where academic practices and classroom strategies provide students with emotional comfort and pleasure as well as knowledge. When teachers use strategies to reduce stress and build a positive emotional environment, students gain emotional resilience and learn more efficiently and at higher levels of cognition. Brain-imaging studies support this relationship.



      Andreasen, N. C., O'Leary, D. S., Paradiso, S., Cizaldo, T., Arndt, S., Watkins, G. L., et al. (1999). The cerebellum plays a role in conscious episodic memory retrieval. Human Brain Mapping, 8(4), 226–234.


      Christianson, S.A. (1992). Emotional stress and eyewitness memory: A critical review. Psychological Bulletin, 112(2), 284–309.


      Chugani, H. T. (1998). Biological basis of emotions: Brain systems and brain development. Pediatrics, 102, 1225–1229.


      Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1977). Remarks on creativity in language acquisition. In M. Burt, H. Dulay, & M. Finocchiaro (Eds.), Viewpoints on English as a second language. New York: Regents.


      Kohn, A. (2004). Feel-bad education. Education Week, 24(3), 44–45.


      Krashen, S. (1982). Theory versus practice in language training. In R. W. Blair (Ed.), Innovative approaches to language teaching (pp. 25–27). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.


      Pawlak, R., Magarinos, A. M., Melchor, J., McEwen, B., & Strickland, S. (2003). Tissue plasminogen activator in the amygdala is critical for stress-induced anxiety-like behavior. Nature Neuroscience, 6(2), 168–174.


      Shadmehr, R., and Holcomb, H. H. (1997). Neural correlates of motor memory consolidation. Science, 277, 821–825.


      Sowell, E. R., Peterson, B. S., Thompson, P. M., Welcome, S. E., Henkenius, A. L., Toga, A. W., (2003). Mapping cortical change across the human life span. Nature Neuroscience, 6, 309–315.


      Thanos, P. K., Katana, J. M., Ashby, C. R., Michaelides, M., Gardner, E. L., Heidbreder, C. A., et al. (1999). The selective dopamine D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011-A attenuates ethanol consumption in ethanol preferring (P) and non-preferring (NP) rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 81(1), 190–197.


      Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed. practiced neurology for 15 years then became a credentialed classroom teacher for 10 years. She currently conducts professional development workshops and her new book Learning to Love Math will be published in July. She is the author of Research-Based Strategies To Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist/Classroom Teacher, (ASCD 2006); Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom, (ASCD 2007); Teaching the Brain to Read: Strategies for Improving Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension (ASCD, 2008)


      How Your Child Learns Best, Sourcebooks: September 2008; Inspiring Middle School Minds, Great Potentials Press, March 2009. Learning to Love Math (tbp ASCD July 2010). Current Impact of Neuroscience in Teaching and Learning. A chapter in, The Future of Educational Neuroscience: Where We Are Now and Where We’re Going Next. Ed. D. Sousa. Solution Tree Press, 2010.

      WEBSITE: http://www.RADTeach.com




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  • Abolish the Diploma Abolish the Diploma

    • From: Grant_Wiggins
    • Description:



      Imagine the following HS requirements being recommend to the School Board:

         3 years of economics and business

         2 courses in philosophy – one in logic, the other in ethics

         2 years of psychology, with special emphasis on child development and family relations

         2 years of mathematics, focusing on probability and statistics

         4 years of Language Arts, but with a major focus on semiotics and oral proficiency

         US and World history, taught as Current Events - backwards from the present

         1 Year of Graphics Design, Desktop Publishing, and Multimedia presentation


      Outrageous?  Hardly – if we do an analysis of what most graduates actually need and will use in professional, civic, and personal life.  How odd it is that we do not require oral proficiency when every graduate will need the ability.  How absurd it is in this day and age that students aren’t required to understand the capitalist system. How sad it is that physics is viewed as more important than psychology, as parents struggle to raise children wisely and families work hard to understand one another.  Requirements based on pre-modern academic priorities and schooling predicated on the old view that few people would graduate and fewer still would go on to college make no sense. Ask any adult: how much algebra did you use this past week? 

                  Don’t get me wrong.  I am proud of my classical education at St. John’s College.  I learned physics through Newton’s Principia and geometry through Euclid and Lobachevski - in a college program with no electives.  I had a fine general education, one truly deserving of the title Liberal Arts (the arts that make you free).  But would I mandate that all colleges look like St. John’s?  Absolutely not – no more than I would mandate that all schools be required to adopt my proposed new graduation requirements, above – even though they make more sense than current ones.

                  We are once again confusing standards with standardization in education.  Our misguided quest for a set of one-size-fits-all requirements shows that we do not yet know how to make education modern – i.e. client-centered; adapted to an era where the future, not the past, properly determines curricula; and where the future is re-invented regularly, and far more personalizable than our forebears dreamed possible. 

                  Why does everyone need the same medicine?  It is absurd to mandate standardized prescriptions in a pluralistic democracy.   Enforced uniformity, whether required in school or a country, has no place in a modern world.  Student interests, needs, talents, and aspirations differ.  Communities differ.  Institutional requirements differ.  Twenty-first century schools should be more like healthcare organizations than medieval guilds or nineteenth century factories.  In other words, they should be responsive to individual clients and their present and future needs.  (We badly need a Hippocratic Oath for schooling:  Above All Else, Do No Harm.) 

                  My point made more practical is that a single set of diploma requirements for all makes no sense.  At a time in history when a political and social revolution is sweeping the country whereby people exercise choice – in healthcare, job choice, living arrangements - it is odd and out of touch for local, state, and national educational policymakers seem bent on inventing a one-size-fits all diploma. Why can't a kid major, just like they do in college? (Florida was the first state to permit it, but it is still a timid effort).

                  We probably do not need the conventional diploma on the low-level grounds of college entry.  Arnold Packer put it well in the SCANS report over a decade ago:  students should graduate with a résumé, not a transcript.   That gets right the obligation of schools in a democracy to better play to the strengths and interests of its students.  I would go further, to draw out what is implicit in the idea:  schools should stop giving a diploma at the end of “12th grade” all together.  Schools should merely report out each student’s achievement profile – their intellectual strengths, weaknesses, and levels of performance on novice-expert continua for each subject each year.  Let the (aptly differing) entry standards of the student-desired next institutions dictate what course selection and exit-performance-level “passing” need to be.

                  Standards and requirements are nothing if not contextual.  So-called requirements are thus more aptly characterized as “if-then” statements about very diverse entry-level requirements:  IF you want to be a scholar, THEN certain requirements follow.  But IF you want to be a lawyer, a businessperson, a musician, an actor, or an electrician, THEN very different needs follow.  Not being able to predict each student’s likely profession does not change the fact that schools should treat students as subjects, not uniform objects.  Teachers, not just doctors, must more vigorously broker personalized possibilities.

                  We should no more mandate what all schools should teach and require in the way of performance than we should mandate what all businesses should sell and their margin of profit.  Modern schools would then be no different from modern professions in a crucial sense.  They, too, would serve niches.  All schools should be magnet schools, charter schools, and alternative schools – if we want to make schools more responsive, effective, and coherent.  

      (This is an updated version of an article I wrote a decade ago. It seems even more pertinent now. The editor of Ed. Leadetrship apparently agrees: a revised and updated version will be published in the March 2011 issue of the ASCD journal.


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  • Understanding by Design Meets Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.

    • From: Judy_Willis
    • Description:

                         Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience

                                       Santa Barbara News PressJudy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.

      Consider the Best Computer Game Model: In the most compelling computer games, think about what the player gets after working through the challenges of each successive level. When they succeed at mastering the skills of the new level, they don’t get prizes, money, hugs, or teacher approval. They get recognition of their incremental progress by being promoted to the next level of play – which is actually MORE CHALLENGING WORK! These game attributes, applied to teaching, can have the same motivating and successful effects on learners.

      What makes computer games so captivating? The successful computer games promote goal orientation, perseverance (even after failure), scaffolding when needed, clear tasks, opportunities to practice, and recognize one’s own incremental goal progress. The best games are broken up into levels.  Reaching the next levels provide opportunities for players to recognize their progress on their way to the final game goal. colorful neurons and axons.jpg

      Achievable Challenge. The most popular computer games provide increasingly challenging levels as players become more and more skillful. As skill improves, the next challenge is at again at an appropriate level of achievable challenge that the player can reach with practice, effort, and perseverance. This game model correlates to using achievable challenge, motivating goals, & feedback about incremental progress in the classroom, with the scaffolding provided for support, as students are motivated to strategically build mastery.

      Collaboration of Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Education   
        The confidence base is established when students know that they will have access to the tools and support they need to reach the high expectations differentiated for them. These are the classrooms where the bar does not need to be lowered or challenge eliminated in the name of access. Achievable challenge set students on appropriately challenging paths increases maximum brain engagement. The extra planning time is rewarded by increased student engagement such that less time needed for behavior management and students have increased motivation to participate in class and on homework.

      The additional brain-memory bonus, as I’ve written about previously, is the dopamine-reward cycle activation where students’ pleasure-reward response responds to more frequent opportunities to recognize their own incremental goal progress. In addition of this perseverance promoting effect of dopamine released by intrinsic motivation, students develop the concept that effort does bring goal progress, and regardless of past experiences, they can succeed with effort and opportunities to get the support and tools they need to promote their success.brain pumping iron pix 1:2011.jpg

      Achievable challenge set students on appropriately challenging paths increases maximum brain engagement. The extra planning time is rewarded by increased student engagement such that less time needed for behavior management and students have increased motivation to participate in class and on homework. The additional brain-memory bonus, as I’ve written about previously, is the dopamine-reward cycle activation where students’ pleasure-reward response responds to more frequent opportunities to recognize their own incremental goal progress. In addition of this perseverance promoting effect of dopamine released by intrinsic motivation, students develop the concept that effort does bring goal progress, and regardless of past experiences, they can succeed with effort and opportunities to get the support and tools they need to promote their success.


        Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Education: UbD for Neuro-logical Planning and Instruction

         When I recognized the compatibility of the computer game model with the correlations of my area of specialization as a neurologist, and later during my ten years of teaching elementary and middle school, I sought models though which the computer game model could be best applied to curriculum and assessment planning as well as to classroom instruction. I found was the work of Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in their Understanding by Design (UbD) and Planning by Design books provides a wealth of information for planning, assessment, and instruction. My references to UbD in this article are to aspects particularly relevant to the computer game model including: a curriculum and assessment model that includes backward planning starting with goals as “big ideas” and “essential questions”, advance planning of formative and summative assessments with ongoing student feedback and teacher feedback, authentic performance tasks as assessments that teach and motivate, and transfer of learning to new domains. 

      Achievable Challenge and Student Awareness of Incremental Progress: Successful curriculum, assessment, and goal planning are required for the video game model (dopamine-reward system) to work its magic. The UbD model sets up information delivery and output goals that are ideal for the patterning, prediction, and pleasure systems that drive and guide the brain.     

       Research has given us increasing understanding of what sensory input has the greatest likelihood of passing through the brain’s attention and emotional filters to reach the highest emotional and intellectual control centers in the prefrontal cortex. We know more and more about what it takes to retain that new input, first in working memory then in long-term and extended conceptual memory.     

       We have the guidance of further research supporting the “packaging” and “output goals” that promote the brain’s most efficient internal drives and organization. The UbD system is ideal for the brain’s structure and function by incorporating core concepts into meaningful and authentic contexts and including opportunities to “play the game while building the skills” as students apply learning throughout the acquisition process.     

       The likelihood of information being maintained in long-term memory increases when students’ brains are prepared in advance to “catch” the new input. This requires that we confirm that students’ foundational knowledge is accurate and then use strategies to activate the memory circuits of prior knowledge to which new input can physically link to construct working memory. Without this preactivation, there is nothing to which new input can link and new learning, failing to consolidate with an existing circuit, is not retained.    

       To prepare students for the dopamine-reward system that sustains motivation and memory through incremental goal progress, we need to preassess and correct faulty foundational knowledge, activate prior knowledge, and sustain the incremental progress awareness through ongoing formative assessments and feedback. This involves differentiation and individualization with scaffolding to customize the learning process for students’ levels of achievable challenge. Then, with opportunities to apply and transfer learning through enjoyable and personally relevant activities, students reach that video game model state in which they want to learn what they have to learn.      

      For the two years, I have had the privilege of collaborating with Jay McTighe. One area of our focus is curriculum planning and instructional strategies that incorporate the computer game model’s dopamine-reward system, fueled by the intrinsic motivation of incremental progress recognition. Our work together has further convinced me that achievable challenges are promoted when student interest is developed and teachers communicate high expectations while insuring that students have the support and scaffolding needed to achieve the challenges.    

       The component of incremental progress requires clearly structured and motivating goals that are made evident to the students from the beginning. Transparent expectations are also part of UbD planning, as students know the goals and assessments in advance. The recognition of incremental progress is supported by the authentic assessments and frequent feedback about goal progress throughout the unit (instead of their receiving feedback only by summative test scores of rote memory at the end of units). The clarity and student-desirability of unit goals is what the brain needs to best use its pattern-seeking design to construct and expand memory stored in relational networks.     

       With input now having a “big idea” or “essential question” on which to link, patterning activities can strengthen links and extend relational memory networks. These activities need to continue to appeal to the brain’s prediction, pattern, and pleasure seeking. As in the video game process where players use trial and error, inductive reasoning, instructive feedback from the game, and even read the manual to reach their goals, students will do the same when they value the mental manipulations (such as the authentic performance tasks in UbD) and available resources as tools to reach their desired goals. The same is true with corrective feedback and direct instruction during a unit if students’ brains directly link this input with the goals they seek.     

       The key is to develop desirable goals, provide individual students the paths to progress that suit their levels of achievable challenge, then to provide them with frequent opportunities to recognize their individual incremental goal progress. These students not only benefit from the intrinsic satisfaction of the dopamine-reward response to their incremental progress (as the video game player does to getting to the next level), but they also change their brains. 

      blue brain with rays.jpg     

      Neuroplasticity is the process through which the brain sustains learning in long-term memory and links related memory circuits together as conceptual knowledge. Each time a memory circuit is activated, electricity that flows through it fuels neuroplastic construction (dendrites, synapses, myelination of axons). This circuit activation is most effective when students are motivated by personally relevant performance tasks and opportunities for authentic transfer activities throughout the learning process.             

      It has long been the goal of education to provide students with skills and knowledge to serve them beyond the classroom and the habits of mind that sustain lifelong learning. Now this goal is even more critical as much of the information and technology that will be available to today’s students when they graduate is not even here now. Fortunately, we have the correlations from neuroscience and cognitive science to guide us in designing learning experiences to promote the construction of long-term, conceptual memory and the circuits of executive functions that will serve our students beyond graduation.       

      From clear goals as the “packaging” for successful brain intake, to authentic performance tasks for mental manipulation, and transfer opportunities to apply learning in ways beyond those in which it was acquired and practiced, we have tools to promote learning consistent with the brain’s most powerful neural processing. Despite the unrealistic demands of an over-packed curriculum, the convergence of neuroscience and cognitive science, advances in curriculum planning, assessment quality, and instructional strategies can engage the brain as powerfully as the best video game. We have the tools to plan instruction with the packaging of information input and clarity of goal-directed output that aligns with and IGNITE our students’ brains’ most successful processing now and in the future.

      Copyright © 2011 by Judy Willis 

      Dr. Judy Willis, a board-certified neurologist and middle school teacher in Santa Barbara, California, attended UCLA School of Medicine, where she remained as a resident and ultimately became chief resident in neurology. She practiced neurology for 15 years, and then received a credential and master's degree in education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has taught in elementary, middle, and graduate schools; and provides professional development presentations and workshops nationally and internationally about learning and the brain. Her website is www.RADTeach.com


    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
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  • You Deserve Better! You Deserve Better!

    • From: Robyn_Jackson
    • Description:

      The latest post from the Mindsteps Blog

      I was talking to a friend and colleague over the holiday break about my frustration with most professional development models. You know the kinds of experiences I’m talking about – the sit and get, spray and pray deals most of us have had to endure perched atop those really uncomfortable cafeteria stools or crammed into the media center aimlessly flipping through a stack of handouts or secretly completing a crossword puzzle while desperately wishing I was in my classroom grading papers and praying for 3:30 when they would unlock the doors and set us free. I’ve always hated those days and work very hard not to deliver the same kind of professional development when I conduct workshops and yet, there were several times in 2009 when I came very close to providing or participating in someone else’s providing the very same kind of experience.

      There has got to be a better way.

      And in 2010, I am looking to find it. So I am throwing down the Professional Development Gauntlet: If I cannot deliver a professional development experience that is worth more to teachers than spending the same amount of time grading papers, I won’t offer it.

      You see, I started Mindsteps not because I wanted to get in on the professional development gravy train. I started Mindsteps because I believed that there was a better way to help teachers. I have never understood why we use such bad teaching practices to show teachers how to be better teachers. I want every teacher to become a master teacher, to reach every child in his or her classroom and to have a ball doing it. I love teaching so much that I want everyone in this profession to love it. And I am convinced that can’t happen if we continue to teach teachers in the same ways we always have. So, I am going to stop trying to improve the old model.

      I am going to build a new one.

      The old model doesn’t work and I am no longer satisfied with trying to tweak it. I think if we are going to do what’s right for kids and provide every one of them with a quality education we have to start and end with a master teacher in every classroom. That’s a scary idea to a lot of people. Whenever I declare that any teacher can become a master teacher with the right kind of support and practice, I always face skepticism. People think it isn’t possible and they are right as long as we continue to provide the kinds of training we are currently providing. If we are really going to make a difference for teachers, for the quality of their teaching and the quality of their lives in the classroom, we have got to start by dramatically overhauling the kind of support and practice we provide them.

      I want professional development that:

      • invites teachers to co-create the learning and influence the direction of how we spend our time together
      • is customizable so that teachers have several access points and can move through the experience at their own level
      • is practical so that teachers have ideas and tools they can use immediately but can also customize so that they are more relevant to each teacher’s context and students
      • models the same teaching principles we expect teachers to use with their students
      • is meaningful and lasts longer than the experience
        actually improves the way that we teach and think about teaching

      It’s an ambitious list that I am sure will grow and change over the next few months as I begin this journey. And if I am really honest, this is a scary thing to do. It means that I am now accountable to you and it also means that in my attempts to create a new way of providing professional development, I will make some mistakes. Publicly. But I am tired of the same ole, same ole.

      I think you deserve better.

      I also want to make it clear: I am not beating up my colleagues who provide professional development. I understand how easy it is to get sucked into the old model of providing PD. Many of the conditions are frankly outside of our control. We come in for a day or two and then leave hoping that somehow that brief amount of time has made a difference. I have been sucked into that model as well. But I want something better for the teachers I serve and I am inviting my colleagues to join me in reaching for it. In fact, I will be engaging my colleagues in conversations about how we can create a new model of professional development that honors teachers and our profession. I cannot solve this problem alone. I need their help.

      I also need your help. What kind of professional development would be most useful to you? What kinds of experiences would dramatically improve your practice? Go ahead and dream big here. I can’t do this without you. I invite you to leave your comments and ideas here. I will check in with you each month and let you know how we are doing.

      Please take time to comment and let’s build something better together.

    • Blog post
    • 4 years ago
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  • What’s a Fair and Effective Te What’s a Fair and Effective Teacher Evaluation?

    • From: Jeff_Bryant
    • Description:

      [Full Disclosure: I’m an independent marketing consultant who works with ASCD on communicating about their products and stirring up trouble whenever I can.]

      Last week, all H E double-hockey-sticks broke loose in the education community when the Los Angeles Times  announced that it was going to publish a series of articles called Grading the Teachers that would ostensibly show “how effective Los Angeles Unified School District teachers have been at improving their students' performance on standardized tests.” The  article that followed the announcement went so far as to identify to the public individual teachers as being “effective” or “ineffective” based on an evaluation method known as “value added” analysis.


      Although US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was fine with it, most people remotely related to education were not. Two prominent ASCD authors and commentators Diane Ravitch and Rick Hess, who often don’t see eye-to-eye on school policy-related matters, had no problem agreeing that the LAT’s public outing of teachers was out of line.


      Ravitch criticized the LAT for using test scores alone as a basis for teacher evaluation, while Hess said the LAT’s treatment of teachers “confuses as much as it clarifies, puts more stress on primitive systems than they can bear, and promises to unnecessarily entangle a useful management tool in personalities and public reputations.”


      A big problem with the LAT’s approach is that the value added methodology really doesn’t work for many reasons, as Daniel Willingham explains here.


      Willingham also has a nifty animated video on YouTube that is probably the most easily digestible analysis of the many flaws with value added evaluation.




      Despite these misgivings with value added measurements of teachers’ performance, other states appear to be moving ahead with this approach. Part of the reason for this is that the federal government is requiring these types of evaluations in order to qualify for competitive grants such as Race to the Top. So the pressure will continue to build to evaluate teachers based on student test scores, at least in part.


      ASCD has been looking at teacher evaluation for years. Ten years ago, two giants in the field Charlotte Danielson and Thomas McGreal wrote Teacher Evaluation for Professional Practice which emphasizes the role of professional development in teacher evaluation. In their third chapter, they explain that an effective teacher evaluation system has “three essential elements:”

      ”• A coherent definition of the domain of teaching (the ‘What?’), including decisions concerning the standard for acceptable performance (‘How good is good enough?’).

      • Techniques and procedures for assessing all aspects of teaching (the ‘How?’).

      • Trained evaluators who can make consistent judgments about performance, based on evidence of the teaching as manifested in the procedures.”


      Four years later, ASCD published Linking Teacher Evaluation and Student Learning by Pamela D. Tucker and James H. Stronge. Their take is that teacher evaluations, in order to be effective, really need to include “objective data” of student learning, which could include test scores. They look at four different types of evaluation systems that incorporate objective data, including student work samples, standards-based criteria, student goal setting, and yes, value-added assessment. But Tucker and Stronge also point out that

      ”Accountability should be thought of as a collective responsibility for supporting learning by parents, principals, superintendents, school board members, and teachers, to say nothing of the students themselves. Holding teachers accountable for student achievement without recognition of the roles played by these other partners in the educational process is patently unfair and can amount to scapegoating.”

      (emphasis not added)


      So, safe to say that these ASCD authors wouldn’t approve of what happened in LA either.


      Will the type of incident that happened in LA likely occur again? No doubt, the pressure to implement widespread teacher evaluations isn’t going to go away. But until there’s more clarity about how to do it, these types of public humiliations should not be repeated. And before there are more of these kinds of incidents, educators can develop approaches to teacher evaluation that are more fair and effective. What do you think?

    • Blog post
    • 4 years ago
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  • Essential Questions Essential Questions

    • From: Steven_Weber
    • Description:


      If you have not tried developing Essential Questions as part of your school's curriculum development process, I highly recommend this activity.  This summer, I had the opportunity to work with a group of World History teachers from six different high schools within the same school district.  The goal of our two-day training was to determine key skills and concepts, essential questions, and a common pacing guide for World History teachers.  Identifying what is essential in the history of the world can be a daunting challenge and there are multiple perspectives that interfere with curriculum development.  Compressing thousands of years of history into a block schedule is no easy task.  What should every student know and be able to do at the end of a high school World History class?  This question guided our work.


      We started on day one by "Unpacking the Standards".  To view the process we used and to learn more about"Unpacking the Standards", visit K-12 Curriculum Development: Unpacking the Standards.


      Using the unpacked standards, the World History teachers wrote Enduring Understandings on Day Two.  Following this work and a short break, we discussed the importance of Essential Questions.  We used an online article written by Grant Wiggins as our guideline for writing Essential Questions.  The guidelines outlined by Wiggins (2007) are available at What is an Essential Question?


      Six Benefits of Essential Questions:

      1.  Essential Questions establish a learning focus for students.

      2.  The process of identifying Essential Questions helps educators clarify their intended purpose.

      3.  Essential Questions promote critical thinking.

      4.  Essential Questions can be used with project-based-learning, community service learning, class debates, research,   experiments, outdoor learning, and essays.

      5.  Essential Questions support integrated instruction (i.e., teaching and learning across disciplines).

      6.  Essential Questions help students see the Big Picture, while allowing each student to connect prior knowledge to new understandings.


    • Blog post
    • 4 years ago
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  • ASCD Authors in the Community ASCD Authors in the Community

  • Developing Principals to Lead Developing Principals to Lead a Whole Child School

    • From: Alseta_Gholston
    • Description:

      Learn more about building the capacity of principals to lead effective and systemic school reform. Our guests discuss what kind of principal development leads to results for students, the current landscape of principal leadership, and future directions of leadership development. You’ll hear from

    • 4 years ago
    • Favorite count: 3
    • Views: 1834
  • Allison Zmuda: Talks With an A Allison Zmuda: Talks With an Author

    • From: Tim_Ito
    • Description:

      ASCD talks with Allison Zmuda on her new book Breaking Free from Myths About Teaching and Learning: Innovation as an Engine for Student Success.

    • 4 years ago
    • Favorite count: 3
    • Views: 1769
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  • A Knowledge Base for Teaching: A Knowledge Base for Teaching: Communicating High Expectations for Students

    • From: Robert_Marzano
    • Description:

      The following blog post is the first in a series of four edited excerpts from my book, Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching.

      A knowledge base for teaching is the first step a district or school must take if it is to support the development of teacher expertise. The model we propose has four domains: (1) classroom strategies and behaviors, (2) planning and preparing, (3) reflecting on teaching, and (4) collegiality and professionalism. Each domain has subcategories and in the case of the first domain, classroom strategies and behaviors, the subcategories themselves have subcategories.

      Domain 1 addresses classroom strategies and behaviors that have a direct effect on student achievement. These are organized into three broad categories of lesson segments: routine segments, content segments, and segments that are enacted on the spot. Within these three general categories of segments are embedded 41 types of instructional strategies and behaviors from the first nine design questions of The Art and Science of Teaching (Marzano, 2007).

      We don't have time to address all nine design questions today, so for our purposes here, let’s focus on question 9: What will I do to communicate high expectations for all students?

      The realm of teacher expectations deals with the phenomenon that teachers form expectations for individual students relatively quickly. For some students, teachers develop high expectations; for other students, they develop low expectations. Unfortunately, teachers tend to treat high-expectation and low-expectation students differently. Students quickly recognize behavioral clues that they are expected to do well or poorly academically and then behave accordingly (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). Strategies and behaviors regarding expectations draw from the research on establishing an appropriate affective tone with all students and providing equal opportunities to all students for complex academic interactions (Weinstein, 2002). Specific strategies and behaviors associated with segments devoted to communicating high expectations include the following:


       * Demonstrating value and respect for low-expectancy students (e.g., the teacher demonstrates the same positive affective tone with low-expectancy students as with high-expectancy students)

      * Asking questions of low-expectancy students (e.g., the teacher asks questions of low-expectancy students with the same frequency and level of difficulty as with high-expectancy students)

      * Probing incorrect answers with low-expectancy students (e.g., the teacher inquires into incorrect answers with low-expectancy students with the same depth and rigor as with high-expectancy students)

      To illustrate how these strategies and behaviors might manifest in the classroom, consider a high school AP calculus teacher who realizes that she asks questions almost exclusively of students who voluntarily participate in class. In contrast, she does not call on specific students who appear to be struggling, to avoid embarrassing them or making them feel uncomfortable. She institutes a policy of asking difficult questions of every student. Although this change in her behavior is challenging to some students at first, over time, they accept the fact that all students are expected to address complex content, and their thinking will be respected even if it has some flaws in it.


      Part I: A Knowledge Base for Teaching: Communicating High Expectations for Students

      Part II: Focused Feedback and Practice: Teacher-Self Rating

      Part III: Opportunities to Observe and Discuss Expertise: Teacher-Led Professional Development

      Part IV: Clear Criteria and a Plan for Success: Knowledge Gain




      To learn more about the book or pick up a copy, you can navigate to the ASCD Store.

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
    • Favorite count: 2
    • Views: 6832
  • Learning Targets Learning Targets

    • From: Steven_Weber
    • Description:

      If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.       - Yogi Berra


      Teachers understand the importance of goal setting.  However, some schools still allow each teacher in a hallway or grade level to establish learning targets for students in their respective classrooms.  This practice allows classroom teachers to have academic freedom and make critical decisions without consulting their team members.  Classroom teachers should have a great amount of flexibility when it comes to 'how' to teach key concepts and skills, but 'what' to teach should be clearly defined by the team.  It is unethical to allow some students to 'end up someplace else.'


      One of my favorite baseball teams is the Durham Bulls.  The Durham Bulls play their home games approximately fifteen minutes from my home.  The Famous Bull, which was featured in the 1988 movie titled Bull Durham, still sits on top of the blue monster in Left Field.  Recently, I took a picture of a replica of the Famous Bull.  You may recall from the classic baseball movie that players who hit the Bull win a free steak.  However, if a player hits the grass he wins a free salad.  


      Learning Targets

      The Famous Bull reminded me of the Learning Targets that teacher teams establish and monitor throughout the school year.  Do we care if all students hit the bull and win a Free steak?  If we are referring to an Essential Standard (see Larry Ainsworth's research), then we want to guarantee that all students hit the bull.  Are we happy if students hit the grass? Once again, it is important for teachers to have these conversations rather than assuming that it is o.k. for some students to hit the grass, while others are reprimanded for not hitting the Bull.  Wiggins (1998) reminds us that "if everything is important, then nothing is important" (p. 223). Learning Targets help establish curriculum priorities.


      From attending multiple games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, I can assure you that most professional baseball players do not hit the Bull or the grass.  When a Durham Bulls player hits a home run, the Bull's eyes turn red and smoke comes out of his nostrils.  His tail goes up and down as the player trots around the bases and the fans go wild. The home team and the fans are rewarded when a Bulls' player hits a home run.  You may say......"The player did not hit the target.  Why is the player rewarded for missing the target?"  A Home Run is difficult to achieve in a minor league baseball game and players are rewarded for their achievement, even if they missed the target (the Bull).  Does your team reward students for reaching the target?  Does your team reward students for striving for the target and falling short?  Do students and families have a clear picture of the learning targets for your course or grade level?  While this article is about Learning Targets and not grading practices, your team could have a lengthy conversation to discuss whether teachers in your school give students letter grades or if teachers provide students with timely feedback regarding student effort towards the learning goals.  Additional resources are provided below.  Begin your school year by clearly defining or revisiting the school/school district's Learning Target(s).  Then, work together as a team to ensure that students have an equal opportunity to learn the important goals outlined by teacher teams.


      Recommended Resources on Learning Targets:

      Identifying Learning Targets
      National Equity Project 
      Formerly known as Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools


      Writing "I Can" Statements
      By Bill Ferriter 


      Learning Targets: The Foundation of Balanced Assessment
      Kentucky Department of Education (video)




      Ainsworth, L. (2003). Power standards: Identifying the standards that matter the most. Englewood, CO: Lead + Learn Press.


      Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


    • Blog post
    • 4 years ago
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  • From Learner to Leader From Learner to Leader

    • From: Walter_McKenzie
    • Description:

      Walter’s blog archive: http://surfaquarium.com/blog.htm

      Mirror site: http://surfaquarium.blogspot.com/2011/07/from-learner-to-leader.html



       "The world is very different now...let the word go forth from this time and place...that the torch has been passed to a new generation...born in this century..."

      President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961. Accessed online July 24, 2011 at 4:15 PM at http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres56.html


      This past week ASCD leaders from around the world gathered together here in Virginia for our Leader to Leader (L2L) conference, where we challenged one another to revolutionize the way we learn.


      Why now? Society is shifting all around us. The meaning of what it means to be literate, let alone prepared and productive, is being redefined. If we don’t keep our footing and continue to advocate for educators at all levels, who will?


      ASCD is unique in that it is not beholden to any one job-alike educator group or academic discipline. Its only agenda is a moral imperative to champion what is best for children. This is evident in its major initiatives: the Whole Child, Healthy School Communities, Educator Advocates, Emerging Leaders and the Outstanding Young Educator Award. I am proud to contribute to an organization that sets standards of excellence admired by educators everywhere.


      How do we revolutionize the way we learn? We start with ourselves; revolutionizing the way we work. For the last two years ASCD has thoughtfully, deliberately studied and discussed what this means. From the first day I walked in the door, I have been challenged with new ways of thinking about education and association work. ASCD is a consummate learning organization!


      The challenge is moving from our current successful ways of working to a new model that will allow us to better serve our constituents on this new education landscape. Picture an ornate sand castle fully fortified with sturdy walls and a moat surrounding it, proudly standing against the shoreline. As the tides of change wash around it, the value of its placement on the beach changes. We have two choices: convince ourselves we have value as an island, or move to new and higher ground.


      At L2L, leaders from our worldwide affiliates, professional interest communities, connected communities, student chapters and ASCD initiatives gathered to begin this important work. There was music and dramatic role playing, brainstorming and questioning, chalk talks and gallery walks, envisioning and planning, and a call to action charging each of us to respond to this societal sea change…because until we transform ourselves, we cannot hope to successfully transform education.

      There are significant challenges ahead:

      • maintaining momentum from an inspiring L2L event
      • consistently pushing ourselves to not return to our comfort zone
      • holding one another accountable for walking the walk, not just talking the talk
      • moving from understanding the challenge to actually carrying through with decisive action
      • holding onto those things that will serve us well moving forward while divesting ourselves of those things that no longer apply
      • transforming ourselves to meet the needs of educators well into the future

      This is the most challenging, satisfying work I have done in a long, long time. I returned home yesterday from L2L exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. There were moments during the conference that were so moving, so powerful, it transcended the meeting of minds and connecting with colleagues. Together we built new understandings of what it means to move from being transactional to transformational. L2L 2011 shows us possibilities for ASCD professional development in the future.


      The revolution has already begun. It is hard work…rigorous work…and there is no going back. As we move forward, we will imagine and implement new and different ways to support educators everywhere in meeting the needs of every child…the Whole Child. I welcome you to contribute your energy, ideas and interests as we revolutionize the way we learn. Please join us!

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
    • Favorite count: 2
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