What is your 1st grader doing? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 10-07-2009, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds1 is 6 1/2 yrs old, just started 1st grade after being homeschooled the second half of last yr (bc he hated kinder). He wanted to go back to school and after we talked about it I decided to put him back in.

Anyhoo, in kinder he was doing letter sounds which we continued w/hsing but I guess I didn't push it enough bc his teacher says he's behind now in reading.

So what are YOUR 1st graders doing?

He is reading easy books, can sound words out, is progressing every day, but he is liking reading less and less bc of all the drilling we have to do every night.

He has 8 spelling words and a spelling test every week, he has sight words to drill every night, a math page, and a book sent home every wk that he has to read over and over every night.

I mean, really? It seems like they are trying to suck all the joy out of learning and reading. Luckily he is doing really well and enjoying all his friends at school but I feel like I am a bad mom bc I spent more time focusing on helping him to enjoy learning instead of drilling him every day.

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#2 of 28 Old 10-07-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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There's no reason you should feel bad for encouraging a love of learning over academics themself If he's enjoying school and making friends, I would try not to worry about the other stuff too much. If he starts saying he is bored, or doesn't want to go - then I'd stress over it.

My 1st grader is doing a ton of random things at school currently - but he's in a Montessori program so it's a bit different (ie no spelling tests, assigned worksheets, etc.)

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#3 of 28 Old 10-07-2009, 08:55 PM
 
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My 1st grader does the following (that I know of) on a daily basis:

-Brings a new book home everyday to be returned the next day, unless it's a longer (chapter) book

-Has usually 2 sheets of homework, one letter worksheet (a new letter everyday) and one math sheet. If he doesn't finish something in class, she might send that home too (he has a tendency to want to talk to his friends instead of doing his work).

-In class they do more writing work, but they aren't working on spelling at ALL yet, his teacher says they are supposed to just work on getting comfortable with "writing" and they can worry about the spelling later. As far as I know, they don't do spelling tests at his school at all until 2nd grade.

We don't have sight word lists we're supposed to work on at home, but he's a pretty strong reader and I think they focused more on that in K.

It does sound like they are giving out a lot of really dreary, rote work. Why does he have to read the same book every night? They gave us a book a week in K, but it made more sense then, they were JUST learning how to read so practicing one book multiple times made sense.
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#4 of 28 Old 10-07-2009, 09:50 PM
 
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I have a first grader and the homework is:
15-20 mins a night of reading - this includes being read to and/or reading aloud (your choice)

Other homework is sent only on a Friday night. It is usually 1 or 2 math exercises related to class work, 1 science thing (eg, find different kinds of seeds) and the reading.

The homework will increase as the school year progresses.
No spelling tests till 2nd grade or end of 1st grade.

I think this amount is exactly right FWIW.
This is a public school FWIW.
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#5 of 28 Old 10-07-2009, 10:00 PM
 
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Too Much Homework

Spelling tests every week
They have to memorize a very long poem this week which they are expected to repeat in front of the class.


My daughter's homework is a packet brought home on Monday and returned on Friday.

Wed homework is
Spelling words 10words she has to write 3x ( that is a little overboard for a 1st grader) plus write a sentence 2x
A very long poem she is expected to remember and repeat on friday
2pages of math( front and back of a paper)

and she also has to finish the 2pages of math from yesterday because she was getting tired of writing.

They then have a spelling test every week, and 2pages of math to complete, and to preform the poem in front of the class and are graded on it. My daughter only finished 5 words of her 10word test which was only because the teacher helped her. I asked my daughter why she didn't finish and she said she didn't have enough time



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#6 of 28 Old 10-08-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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DD is in 1st grade at a traditional academic private school. She is reading level 2 books (and is in the lower reading group), doing subtraction facts up to 12 for math, her first oral presentation/poster on Europe for social studies, learning about insects in science. She has 20 spelling words each week.

She brings homework home every night which is pretty consistent:
1. Read phonics story 2 or 3 times
2. Spelling activity (varies by day, copying words, doing crossword, writing sentences, practice test)
3. 1-2 pages of matn.

It takes about 30 minutes total and comes home each day, due the next. This is exactly what I expected and I'm not unhappy with the load.

She has music 2/wk, art 2/wk, science 2/wk, social studies 2/wk, values 1/wk. Math, reading, english, handwriting, and sports are every day.
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#7 of 28 Old 10-08-2009, 07:49 AM
 
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Reading every night together based on a school book. No other homework. In school there is a big math focus, reading, hands on science activities, music, library, gym, art projects etc. The only testing I have heard of is to assess reading levels and at the end of a unit to assess skills.
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#8 of 28 Old 10-08-2009, 03:10 PM
 
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My daughter's in an academic focused private school.

She has spelling homework every night (10 spelling words + 5 additional challenge words she should be able to read, whether she wants to spell them on the test is optional). The spelling test is every friday. Once a week she's given a worksheet that she's supposed to fill out using the spelling words. The rest of the time, it's up to us how to practice them (she enjoys making up songs to spell out her words, jumping on the trampoline & spelling them, stuff like that).

She has math homework on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The math homework one of those nights will generally be a worksheet, and the other will be something less formal.

She gets a handwriting worksheet for learning cursive every week, and it is due back the following week.

She's to read or be read to for 15 minutes every day.

When she's on the ball, her homework (minus the reading) can be knocked out in 10 minutes. When she dawdles, it can take longer. The school head and the teacher have all said it's perfectly fine to write a note "Daughter spent 20 minutes on her homework, but we didn't finish everything."
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#9 of 28 Old 10-08-2009, 03:20 PM
 
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As for homework, it's dictated by the district even though it's a Montessori school (public) so, DS has to read every night and write a brief summary answering a couple questions. It's super easy for him, though, and luckily not something he resists doing.

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#10 of 28 Old 10-08-2009, 07:45 PM
 
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DS's class is working on basic phonics, spelling, reading, science (FOSS kit system), math (this week it's facts equaling 8), and social studies. He also has Library once a week, P.E. 3x a week, and art once a week.

Homework currently consists of spelling words (we have to "study" them for the end of week test, but they don't tell us how to study) and nightly reading. I augment with extra math at home and extra reading at home. Starting in 2 weeks they'll have homework as well. Since we are already doing so much, I may have to talk to the teacher about the homework. If it is just busy work, we may skip it. Spelling alone takes us 20 minutes.

DS is also in the bottom reading group in his class, but his skills are really improving, so I'm not so worried about it.
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#11 of 28 Old 10-09-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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DD has homework every night. It's just one sheet of math. Right now, they're working on money (nickels and pennies).

They are drilling sight words, but the only reason I know that is from seeing DD's spelling tests. She never gets homework with them.

She is reading okay right now. She doesn't really try to sound out words if she doesn't know them. She just substitutes "something" and tries to figure out what it was after she reads the entire sentence and looks at the pictures.

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#12 of 28 Old 10-09-2009, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone, you guys gave me more of an idea about what's normal.

So I guess we fall right in the middle, some of your kids have more homework and some have less.

He is doing really well, I am more and more impressed w/him every day. He is good about getting homework done and not dilly dallying. He enjoys reading and is very proud of himself when he sees his own improvement. He did really well on his spelling test today and we worked hard on it this week.

He is doing well overall so I guess I shouldn't worry about it. I guess my biggest fear is that he will hate school like I did and I don't want that for him. He is a very inquisitive kid and I love that about him.

Thanks again!

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#13 of 28 Old 10-09-2009, 11:07 PM
 
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My first grader attends a magnet-type public school-she has to read 10-15 minutes each night, and has a homework packet (6-8 worksheets) plus 10 spelling words and a stack of sight words, poem memorization also. For math they're working on memorizing doubles (2+2, 3+3, etc.) time, and word problems! Most of the kids in her class read at third grade level. Lots and lots of writing assignments.
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#14 of 28 Old 10-10-2009, 12:41 AM
 
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DD1 is in 1st grade, this is her first year in school, we homeschooled before this. She needs to read or be read to 6 days a week. She is dyslexic, and does not read so I read to her. Maybe once a week, she might have some worksheet stuck in her folder but homework isn't required, only if she wants to do it.
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The regular students have 4 spelling words a week. DD1 doesn't do them. She doesn't do any reading or writing with her class instead she works with a private therapist 5 days a week. Her non reading has not been a problem, the teacher makes arrangements as need be. She doesn't even know half of her letters yet, but isn't treated any differently.

I don't know what the class is doing for reading. In math they have been doing double digit addition with carrying. Science has been a lot of leaf/plant type of stuff including several field trips to study plants.

There is no testing other then the spelling test. The school has a large focus on outdoor education so they do spent a lot of time outside. Today was an entire day hike up to a lake, they built boats once they got there as a math/science project. They were outside on Tuesday as well studying plant differences at different elevations. This is a small private school

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#15 of 28 Old 10-10-2009, 03:33 PM
 
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My 1st grader was homeschooled last year and is also a bit behind in reading. His homework comes home on Friday, due Wednesday, and it's just a few pages of (easy) math. All they've done so far is counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s and counting and writing tally marks. We did 1st grade math at home last year but I'm sure there will be some new things he can learn. At home he reads most days but it's not required by school or me.
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#16 of 28 Old 10-10-2009, 05:33 PM
 
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My DS is also a December baby in first grade. He knows all the letters, consonant sounds, vowel sounds he still is sometimes mixing up, has a LOT of sight words, can write letters but prefers uppercase to lowercase (still reversing some), is doing some simple 1 digit addition/subtraction, and is VERY interested in any science topics that they cover. For homework, we only have to go over his spelling words (about 8 words) each week, and read with him each night. (I LIKE this approach...they are in school 7 hours a day and working hard the whole time; they need time to be kids too!). My DS has an IEP for autism (high functioning), but he spends the vast majority of the day with his mainstream class, and is pulled out for 1/2 of language arts in resource to get some extra help, and gets speech therapy once a week. We also do private occupational and physical therapy every week (alternating). I feel he is doing very well, and I can tell the difference in his reading fluency and comprehension since starting school 1.5 months ago. Good luck to you!

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#17 of 28 Old 10-12-2009, 06:27 PM
 
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I would just like to add that we do not learn to spell by memorize 8 - 10 words per week. If a school's spelling program is based on that they are way behind the times in terms of programming based on research. If that's the way we learned to spell we would learn:

10 words per week x 37 weeks (approx) = 370 words per year x 8 years of elementary school = 2960 words. That's not a lot. Most of have a vocabulary of 50,000 or more words (adults - hard to estimate vocabulary but it's certainly more than 3000). We know how to spell most of the words in our vocabulary.

I guess I'm saying it's a waste of time because that is not how we learn to spell.

Your school should have a balanced literacy program, ask them.

That's my two cents, a little off topic but all that spelling homework was irritating me.

I also think kids need to play and spend time with their families and do not need homework to be lifetime learners.
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#18 of 28 Old 10-13-2009, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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winwin, that's some interesting info, do you mind sharing a little more w/me? Links would be great also.

Even though ds1 is doing well so far I feel like he is bound to hate school and learning as he progresses through grades bc of the approach they take. That is my ultimate fear, not that he doesn't spell well or has to use a calculator to help him w/math, kwim?

I feel like learning about the world is what opens your mind to possiblities that you never thought were possible and when you hate learning it CAN lead to a closed minded ingnorant attitude.

I really wish a non conventional school was an option for us. I stink at homeschooling so at this pt I think that he is in the best situation available to us. Plus, he is very popular and LOVES spending time w/all of his friends.

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#19 of 28 Old 10-14-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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Tanyam,

I'm a teacher in Ontario. We have been very focused on literacy for awhile. I've read so many books and done so many workshops and PD that I don't remember where I got those stats but it makes so much sense. We learn spelling through reading a lot (sight words) and learning the patterns (the few that there are in English). We learn meaning through reading and also knowledge of etymology, root word meanings, prefix and affix meanings.

Balanced literacy tries to address the needs and interests of all students. It includes think alouds (where the teacher models reading and writing strategies) strategies guided reading (in small groups based on reading level), independent reading, shared reading, writing workshop, word work, and more. Here is a link to the wikipedia description. The book referenced there is the "bible" of balanced literacy.

It really is much better than the way literacy was taught. Of course, it's not perfect and in public schools we often have such a variety of levels in one grade that it is difficult to program for everyone but this does help a lot.

I know what you mean about not wanting to stifle the love of learning. Here we have made the curriculum more difficult earlier and I totally disagree with that. I guess what you have to do is work with the teacher and supplement with family field trips and lots of reading, activities, experiments, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balanced_Literacy
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#20 of 28 Old 10-14-2009, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks winwin, I am going to look more into this.

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#21 of 28 Old 10-18-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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Do you NEED to do the spelling words everynight? My DD is in first, and she doesn't have a lot of homework, mainly to go over site words and spelling words (they are different). Site words are things like "the, and, to, for" and number words, colors, ect. that they see all the time. Spelling words have a theme every week (-ack, back, sack). My DD is in the top of her class for reading, and so far she already knows all the spelling words already, so we don't do them everynight. Maybe twice a week we will go over them and ask her to spell them. In our school they teach a lot of creative writing, which my DD loves! THey are asked to spell the things they don't know as best they can using their phonics. I think this is my favorite part of looking over her classwork! I have a really creative kid who uses LOTS of discriptive big words, most of which are spelling wrong, but phonically correct! In math so far I am unimpressed, they aren't really doing anything besides simple addition so far, and the more than/less than, and she knows most of that already. I think math is my biggest disapointment so far, they also do not do much history or science, aside from reading about the current holidays/season. SO far they have learned about sences (that she already knew), and history has been Johnny Appleseed and Columbus day, usually in the little weekly reader type thing. THe main focus in my schools first grade is reading, and then basic math.
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#22 of 28 Old 10-19-2009, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, it seems like my ds1 is also focusing on reading and then math. We are doing the EXACT same things your dd is doing freethinker.

I was just concerned bc on his first progress report the teacher said my son is behind in reading, but I think he's doing really well. I was trying to get a feel on here for what other first graders are doing.

My parent teacher conference is on wed morn so I guess we will see what she says then. He is doing really well on his spelling words also, he has gotten a 100%, and a 90% the last 2 wks. I am very proud of him.

Thanks for all the info guys! I will update after the parent/teach conference.

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#23 of 28 Old 10-19-2009, 11:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winwin View Post
I would just like to add that we do not learn to spell by memorize 8 - 10 words per week. If a school's spelling program is based on that they are way behind the times in terms of programming based on research. If that's the way we learned to spell we would learn:

10 words per week x 37 weeks (approx) = 370 words per year x 8 years of elementary school = 2960 words. That's not a lot. Most of have a vocabulary of 50,000 or more words (adults - hard to estimate vocabulary but it's certainly more than 3000). We know how to spell most of the words in our vocabulary.

I guess I'm saying it's a waste of time because that is not how we learn to spell.

Your school should have a balanced literacy program, ask them.

That's my two cents, a little off topic but all that spelling homework was irritating me.

I also think kids need to play and spend time with their families and do not need homework to be lifetime learners.
But the spelling is not about learning only those 10 words (which increases as the years increase, my 3rd grader has 15/wkly). It is about learning spelling rules. Typically the spelling words will have a theme- -ck words, plural words, long O words, short A words, etc etc etc. So, it isn't about only learning how to spell 3000 words, ever, it is to lay the foundation to spell nearly any word in the english language.
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#24 of 28 Old 10-19-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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oh and my first grader gets a sheet of spelling and a sheet of math, both sides for homework m-th. It takes all of 10 minutes to do, maybe 15 if he is eating a snack as well. He is a s.l.o.w. writer too, he has awful handwriting due to fine motor delays. He's never had a problem with not having enough time to write the words on the spelling tests either. He's actually gotten 10/10 on all of his spelling tests.
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#25 of 28 Old 10-19-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tanyam926 View Post

Even though ds1 is doing well so far I feel like he is bound to hate school and learning as he progresses through grades bc of the approach they take. That is my ultimate fear, not that he doesn't spell well or has to use a calculator to help him w/math, kwim?

I feel like learning about the world is what opens your mind to possiblities that you never thought were possible and when you hate learning it CAN lead to a closed minded ingnorant attitude.
Why are you so sure that he is bound to hate school?
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#26 of 28 Old 10-21-2009, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mommy2maya, in response to your question about hating school, it's bc he hated school last yr, that is why I hs him for the second half of last yr. I explained what happened better in my op.

I am not really worried about how much homework he has, just that the drilling is going to kill his love for learning.

But, he is doing well, we are not having any struggles, I had a conference w/his teacher this morning and he seems to be doing really well although he is significantly behind in reading. That is the part I don't really understand bc he reads well at home. His teacher thinks he is improving wkly and doesn't seem worried about it. So we are good.

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#27 of 28 Old 10-22-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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My daughter is in 1st grade this year, in a 1st-2nd grade mixed classroom.

She's reading chapter books -- she was reading Magic Treehouse and Junie B. Jones type books a lot last year, and has graduated into slightly more advanced books this year (though she still enjoys Magic Treehouse a lot). She began reading at 4, though, and her assessments put her into the highest percentiles as far as reading/language is concerned.

Her school is using Investigations math curriculum, and it seems very easy -- a lot of counting and recording numbers, seeing the different ways in which you can add or subtract numbers, etc. Her teacher just emailed me tonight to say they are moving her up to a higher math group, though -- so hopefully the work will become more challenging.

Additionally, she's doing a lot of hand crafting work, yoga, environmental stuff, and her class is one of two that are coordinating the school's Autumn Olive Festival next week, so I gather they've been spending a lot of time on that recently. Rylie's on the games committee.

From what she tells me, the kids in her class are all over the spectrum as far as basic skills go -- some are barely reading, some are reading a little more, some are at her level, etc. Same with math -- they are in several groups so that the kids are working at the appropriate level.

As long as you see your son progressing, and enjoying himself, I wouldn't worry too much.

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#28 of 28 Old 10-24-2009, 09:58 PM
 
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Just to address the spelling questions: I'm a kindergarten teacher and have a first grade daughter. A good spelling program is not to teach them to memorize the spellings of lists of words. A good spelling program is to teach them spelling patterns. My own first grader has 15 spellling words per week and this is the only component of her homework. She has various activities as choices for homework: finding the vowels in her words, finding the consonants, using the words in sentences, etc. All of these help her see features of the words and have practice with the meanings. Her weekly assessment is to write the words in dictation, sort them by feature (this week her words were ones beginning with ch or c) and write a dictated sentence that includes lots of familiar sight words. They are also allowed to use words from the word wall, etc. to find out how to spell words for the sentence. She has to set a goal for the week of how many points (different choices of spelling activities are assigned different point values) she wants to earn and then decide if she met her goal. I'm extremely happy with her progress. She's not always 100 percent successful in the weekly word dictation, but she's absolutely learning valuable spelling patterns.

~Tammy
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