Monday, February 15, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset Week 3: Chapter 3

Do you see characteristics of the innovator's mindset that George shared in this chapter changing learning experiences in your classroom? How are you taking risks or networking or creating...or how are you having your students do these things?

Great conversations so far! Keep up the great work! Next week we'll read and discuss chapters 4 and 5.

93 comments:

  1. Networking via Twitter revitalizes my perspective and mindset. Participating in a few chats or following a few groups provides instant energy and ideas (#INeLearn, #ditchbook, #mathmindset are my favorites). Connecting with educators in this way is only a beginning to actions that I need to take in my classroom. It sets up a model for how I can provide interaction among my students and create energy within my own classroom. I appreciate George Couros' phrase, "Sometimes you only need to change one thing." This gives me a starting point. It also supports my observation that students can be overwhelmed with too many changes at one time.

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    1. Tammy- I also connected to his phrase. Every summer, I find all of these innovative ideas that I want to implement into my classroom, but when I begin the school year, I have to take a step back and realize that I need to work on one at a time. I agree that students can be overwhelmed with too many changes. If we implement one or two things at a time, it helps them adjust and feel more comfortable with their learning experience.

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    2. I like that George gives teachers permission to just "change ONE thing." Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with ALL the GOOD IDEAS!! LOL but we can all do one thing. I also enjoy Twitter. I am constantly surprised by the depth of conversations and friendships one can develop via Twitter chats. Maybe we can share twitter handles?

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    3. My Twitter handle is @farandlow
      I encourage everyone to join Twitter. I needed three attempts several months apart to be convinced of its educational value and ease of use. Then, one summer Twitter was my 'one thing', and I have enjoyed following a great variety of educators and groups which made all the difference in the amount of resources that I encountered.

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    4. I like Tammy's statement about working on one step at a time. I sometimes feel overwhelmed myself when I think of all the tools I could be using or all of the strategies that I could be implementing into my classroom; one or two steps at a time is great advice.

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    5. I think I was meant to read this post about changing one thing at a time! I'm sure I don't have to reiterate to anyone how busy and overwhelming life gets at times -- i am having one of those times right now and feel like I end up taking two steps backwards in the classroom when trying to keep up with technology, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, etc. ito try and create a good learning environment and opportunities. This reminded me to let myself breathe and allow myself to focus on one thing for a few months and get really good at that rather than piece together a million. Thank you for the reminder!

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  2. I like the characteristic of being a problem finder/solver. Having students take the responsibility for their learning and as a teacher be the role model and guide is a challenge that I am making to myself and my teaching. I also use twitter for ideas and follow a great fb page that is always filled with new and innovative ways to teach. I love finding new ways to reach my students and being networked is one way to do this. By having an innovator's mindset I will increase my students learning. Asking the question; Would I want to be a student in my own class is what I will be asking myself and help guide me to help my students learn.

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    1. Would I want to be a student in my own class? This resonated with me as well! We can apply that to any role we are in. Would I want to be sitting in my own PD session? I want to be able to answer YES!

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    2. George reiterates this question in a Podcast with Vicki Davis. This would be something to consider sharing with teachers.
      http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/3639-would-you-want-to-be-student-in-your-own-classroom

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  3. I was able to relate to quite a few things in this chapter. One in particular is the Creator step. I am using a flipped model for math instruction. It made me think about having students create videos to show me their learning. I often hear the phrase that we learn best by doing. Why can't that be the same for our students?

    In the past two years, I have worked to increase my social media presence to collaborate and learn from other educators. I use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and follow blogs written by teachers. While I am still learning how to use all of these resources to my advantage, I think about all of the ways we can share and communicate with each other, as opposed to 10 years ago. I have even taken it a step further to have a classroom Twittter and Instagram account. The students are able to share their thoughts about our days, and special events occurring in our classroom.

    If you are interested in connecting with me, my Twitter handle is @thepickettpress!

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    1. April, I thought I was replying to your comment. See what I wrote below. I am looking forward to following you on Twitter.

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  4. I enjoyed looking at your Twitter feed. I love the idea of having students create videos to show their learning. I have tried this with kindergartners and they love it! One of my girls loves to video herself teaching concepts we have covered with the Educreations app. I catch her watching her old videos all the time.

    George mentions at the beginning of the chapter that teachers sometimes lack clear guidance and support to make the desired changes. Personally, I am trying one new idea each nine weeks with the help of Chris Young (@CYoungEdTech), our Tech Integrationist. I will tell him what I would like to try, but maybe do not have the skill or the knowledge base to do successfully. Then he models it for me by leading my class. I learn so much this way. At the beginning of the year, he modeled a fabulous Makey Makey lesson. During the second nine weeks, we learned how to code in Kindergarten. Next year, I will be able to do these lessons on my own. I am so thankful to have support in my district. I am a better teacher because of it.

    I have also learned a lot from amazing people on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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    1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. Do you use th paid Educreations app? Have you heard of SeeSaw? It's a great digital portfolio tool. I am very jealous that you have someone to model lessons for you!

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    2. No, I have the free version. I have heard of See Saw, and I am interested in some of its features. I need to check into it.

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    3. How fortunate that you have Chris as a partner in learning. Isn't this the same type of relationship we would like to have with students, with them having the opportunity to ask us questions as they explore?

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  5. I really like the idea that true learning requires creation. You not only need to memorize facts and figures but figure out how to synthesize new things from that information. As a high school Biology teacher I can relate to the story about teaching Mitosis. Often in my class I can watch as students lose focus and interest in material such as this and I can understand, they are really just memorizing information. By connecting them to the material using a platform that they enjoy, such as making a video, you make the learning more interesting and meaningful.
    Connecting with other teachers and innovators is beneficial to education. Even veteran teachers may need an idea now and then to update their lessons. I understand the need for this yet rarely do, I am comfortable with my materials and lessons. Stepping out of your comfort zone and creating meaningful connections and innovations needs to become one of my goals for this year. Even one change is change in the right direction.

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    1. I agree with you on needing to make this a goal for this year as well. I like the positive thinking that one change is change in the right direction.

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    2. I definitely agree that true learning requires creation. Once you force them to create something, it becomes apparent which students truly "get it" vs those who have just memorized the info.

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  6. I so spend a considerable amount of my time away from work on Twitter. I have found many good ideas through it as well as having created many friendships across the country and world. There are several chats a week that I either participate in or read after it has taken place.
    As an administrator I try to encourage our teachers to take that risk. Don't be afraid to try something new. If it is for the kids then it cannot be all bad. If it does not work out the way you intended, that is fine, tweak it and try it again. There are times I feel like I am the cheerleader when different ones come in with new ideas to try.
    I also try to model the use of technology as well. I feel if I want the staff to use it, I need to as well.

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    1. I spend a considerable amount of time on Twitter as well and I have been amazed at home much you can learn from following people and reading their tweets. I have learned so much from the many talented people I follow and engage with on Twitter that has made me a better teacher.

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    2. I agree! Personally, I would have been lost without the #INeLearn community.

      Tom, you are so right! We can't expect teachers to show innovative technology use if we aren't willing to continue to grow in our own tech integration- especially as an evaluator! I know this isn't just about technology, but that's what I think about! :)

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    3. Mr Stoner you are our cheerleader. I appreciate that you get excited about when someone tries something new. That enthusiasm is inspiring. The quote from this chapter that resonated with me is "What we model is what we get." I know you agree that we should model enthusiasm for learning.

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  7. I really liked when Couros talked about being innovative inside the box. I think that we as educators need to do a better job at findings innovative ways to teach our standards and curriculum. I know I need to do a better job of providing students with opportunities to create in my classroom. It really hit home for me when I read the part of the chapter that says, "learning is creation, not consumption." I know I need to do a better job of allowing my students to create more and guide their own learning, and consume less from me.

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    1. This really hit home with me as well. It is so easy to get stuck in the rut of "consumption" learning. I have noticed that my students are much happier and they buy into a lesson much more when they are creating something. I need to challenge myself to allow them to do this more often.

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  8. These few chapters have helped me to take a hard look at how we are supporting teachers. I love the line, "It's crucial for administrators to understand that having support and feeling supported are two different things" (Couros 59). I hope to apply this to training/PD models we use in the future, and the readings have helped me reflect on my role in this.

    I see so many missed opportunities for collaboration. Isolation really is the enemy of innovation, and we need to both support and challenge each other.

    The #INeLearn community is an amazing PLN to be part of. Our district has started monthly Twitter chats, and I hope that we can grow this network into something that is valuable to all of our staff.

    One recent effort I am really excited about is starting (with help from others) a regional eLearning coaching group.

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    1. I've been really contemplating my support for teachers as well. I've been a technology coach for 4 1/2 years now, and I still have not found the key to all of it. It is just like good teaching. It is an attempt to personalize...seek a wide variety of ways teachers want their needs met.

      Here is some food for thought:
      http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/3677-why-teacher-pd-is-still-broken-how-to-fix-it

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  9. I am in my second year as a Media Specialist after having taught English for over a decade, and I appreciate reading this book early in my career as a Media Specialist. I've realized some of the lessons I've taught as I've been invited into teacher's classrooms could be more learner-centered, and in the future, I will work to create lessons that way. It will definitely take some time and thought, but I see how it will be much more valuable to students if (for example) I'm helping them learn how to learn how best to conduct research using a given database rather than showing them how.

    Recently, I networked with a biology teacher who wanted to re-vamp a project to make it more learner-centered. We took risks in developing a project that would allow students to learn through their research and development of the product which would help them meet the objective/standard. It's definitely a risk because you can see the students struggle at first with being in charge of their own learning. But I think it's important to try. Students will be networking with one another to create a method and product of their own learning. Reading this book couldn't have come at a better time. It is validating what this biology teacher and I are trying with this project-based, learner-centered approach.

    I love the idea in Chapter 3 about "Effective leadership in education is not about moving everyone from one standardized point to the next but moving individuals from their point 'A' to their point 'B.'" This reminds me of creating a Professional Growth Plan in my master's program. I found it motivating because I was reflecting on my own teaching and creating goals for growth. It made my learning/growth more personal. I guess it was a way of differentiating for teachers. How powerful would that be if educational leaders asked teachers to create a growth goal not related to test scores?

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  10. It is encouraging to see the characteristics described are several that I have tried to implement. I feel like most of them come fairly naturally for me, but I have struggled with reflection, not because I find it unimportant, but because of time to do so. However, we must make the time to reflect. "Looking back is crucial to moving forward" (Couros 58). Also, I want to be more intentional with taking risks. I have been blessed to be part of an environment that encourages risk-taking.

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    1. I've really implemented this during my coaching and teaching sessions this year. I found most students and teachers weren't cognizant of reflecting so we had to point it out and slow down. Most teachers reflect at the end of the lesson with students, but should be reflecting all the time like George talks about. I have worked with students to make a ten minute goal at beginning of class, what have you learned so far, 25 minute check in with a challenge, and at end of class 5 minute reflection on what were your successes this lesson. It's been powerful and helps students to communicate the next steps and to see where mistakes might have happened. Give it a try, super important and you'll find it creates more time in the lesson. http://andrewkauffman.org/2016/01/22/speak-up-and-reflect/

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    2. I agree that finding the time to reflect is difficult; it is easy to "move on" to the next week's lesson before realizing what did and did not work in the previous week's material, and for me, without reflection, that also means that I can go forward and repeat the same mistakes! Lately, I feel as though I am reflecting as I teach; I can see what is not working in real time, and I make a quick note so I can not only know what did not work, but reflect on why it did not work.

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    3. I agree that it is often just easier to move on than to reflect on what did and did not work. I found this to be especially true at the elementary level. Now that I am teaching middle school, I find myself reflecting and adjusting multiple times throughout the school day. If it doesn't work during first period, I change it for second period (if it is a small change that can be made during passing period). I have also made a binder of my materials that I use to teach every year. The materials get "tweaked" each year as I find new and better methods and ideas. I try to add post-it notes about what works each time and what doesn't so I can adjust accordingly for the next school year.

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    4. I love the idea of using post-it notes as a quick reflection, especially for planning purposes the following year. For me, I certainly make changes from one class to another when necessary. I also review each "old" lesson and see what needs changed, recalling the previous year. Usually there are things that stand out, but having an outlet for notes would be great.

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    5. I agree that reflection is so important and so many times we do not spend the time needed. Time is always an issue. Sometimes it is not just the amount of items we need to cover but also reduced time because of testing, weather delays and cancellations, and other things that interrupt our days.

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  11. On www.daysoftheyear.com that today 2/16/26 is Innovation Day! Yay!

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  12. I love what Couros says about problem finders/solvers. It is true that the world and life in general are not just one easy answer. Problems often have several "right" answers and finding the solutions may take time and more than one try. I see so many impatient students want that instant gratification of a quick answer that sometimes they miss other learning opportunities. If they would take the time to be innovative in their way of searching for "the" answer, they could open up several other doors in the process. I like the concept of finding the problem instead of finding the answer. This will make us all stop and think and force us to change our mindset from how it's supposed to be done to how it can be done.

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    1. Tammy, I liked this part too. I recently read the book A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. He really digs into this idea of focusing on the questions instead of the answers. It is interesting, and I see how it could be transformational.

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  13. I've found that the innovation Couros talks about in chapter 3 is something that is slowly being implemented at our school. I've been using origami, legos, robots, book making etc for years and have seen a great success rate with that. I take risks to try new ideas, but try to collaborate with students to get to their level. We can't innovate learning if we don't include all stakeholders.

    If we are going to create, to expand learning, we need to begin by asking students what interests them, and then push those interests to find new innovative ideas to solve problems. I've done this through connections on twitter and it's been outstanding. I started back in 09 as a first year teacher without many connections and have learned so much. I would not be anywhere close to where I am today without those connections. Couros has hit it on the head when he talks about educators needing to choose to connect and share. If an educator chooses to close their classroom door they have taken away numerous opportunities from themselves and their students.

    Teachers are seeing the possibilities and it takes just one person to create that change, to create relationships with others that can encourage a school to be innovative.

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  14. This year I am especially appreciating the characteristics of Networked and Creators in my classroom. Twitter has been a source of volumes of useful ideas on how to better engage students. Being part of this and former book clubs has also inspired many ideas. More importantly I am allowing the students to be the creators of their knowledge playing the role of "guide on the side". George's comment under the heading "Creators" states: "Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates". I have been allowing more time for students to be curious and create questions of things they would like to know more about in regards to standards and then through performance assessments discover the answers to their questions. This is a result of the last book club where we learned about KISS from Matt Miller that the teacher should not be working harder than the students.

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    1. Like that you have been incorporating Twitter as a useful tool in your classroom. Matt Miller spoke at our school this year and talked about his book called, "Ditch that textbook." I had learned about a way for students to video chat and have a Social Studies guessing game to figure out where the other class is located. The first class to guess the correct state won.

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  15. Right now, I can only comment on a few of the innovator's mindset characteristics that George talked about. As a librarian, I try to stay networked by reading blogs and other postings on what other high school librarians are doing. I also practice reflection, I've done that my entire teaching career because it is helpful to ask yourself "what worked, what didn't, what do I need to change?" By doing at least these two things, I think I have been able to implement some positive activities and programs into the high school library. I know last year I also relied heavily on these two characteristics when I was in the classroom too.

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  16. Ever since I found Twitter about 4 years ago it has changed my way I look for professional development. In many ways, it is my professional development. It is so easy to find an answer to a question by posting it to my PLN on Twitter. I believe I actually use it more to search for specific items than I do Google or YouTube. Twitter allowed me to get out of my classroom, out of my building, out of my school corporation, and out of my state to see what others were doing in their own classrooms. It is still amazing to see what others are attempting, revising, and reflecting upon as they continue to be a lifelong learner.

    Earlier this year I posed a question to a cousin about #makerspaces and heard back from multiple helpful "experts", including from 2 makerspaces within my own county that I did not know existed. The power of Twitter and PLN's is amazing!

    Two years ago I started having students tweet me their math questions when they had them. In the past, I RARELY had any students email me their questions. That is not how they communicate. Once I opened up my professional Twitter, my students opened up their lines of communication. It was so much easier for them to snap a picture of their homework so I could go through their work. I believe they really appreciated me meeting them at their level, and not having them come down to mine.

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  17. I love being apart of Social Media. It has allowed for myself to be somewhat innovated within my classroom. However I know I am not using it to its fullest potential. I need to use it to connect with other as well as share my ideas. I really liked how Couros was talking about thinking within the box. I think this ties back into using Social Media to innovate the classroom. This is one of my goals to accomplish for the end of this year instead of waiting until the start of another school year.

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    1. Desiray, I had the same thought with Couros talking about thinking within the box. I agree that it ties back to social media and even the 8 characteristics.

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  18. I think social media is a good way to communicate with your students. Social studies is very easy I find to incorporate social media. It seems they all have many current events and often news coverage. I do think it is important to teach a social media filtering method.
    I have taken many risks with technology in the classroom it seems they either work really well or fail really bad but it is worth the risk of failure.

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  19. Teaching computer skills to 4th graders, I find that they are not interested in the commercialized programs to improve their keyboarding skills. Last week, I decided to open an Edmodo discussion to give them another means of communication and they loved. They were discussing their need to improve how well they can type so they can keep up with the discussions of others. I thought about introducing some pen pals from another school. Anything to get them interested in learning and improving their digital communications. This idea came from looking at what would interest the students and give them the opportunity find a need to improve.

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    1. I like that you are looking at pen pals as a means of encouraging communication. I have been trying to find ways to improve student writing skills also, and have been thinking about creating a classroom newsletter. As a result of observing how my students respond to various writing prompts, I believe our class already has a "Dear Abby" contributor!

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  20. I really liked George Couros' phrase, "Sometimes you only need to change one thing." Being that I am a special ed teacher, sometimes we overwhelm our students with new things. I am working on trying to flip my classes with my Algebra students, so that they can learn the lesson, and then I can help them with their homework. These students are not easy to change, but I want to give them other ways of learning. I want to give them a chance to "teach" what they have learned with their peers, share how they understood the lesson, and be able to ask each other questions. This too was an idea I had to try to help my student's learn better, but also have them feel like they are being innovative in their learning.

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    1. I agree with Sandra's comment about trying not to overwhelm our students with too many new things. Changing one thing may be all that is necessary. I've also found that the more my students individualize their own lessons/workouts, the more empowered they are to think for themselves. This helps us both be more innovative.

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  21. Twitter has opened my eyes to so much in the past year and half since I've used it for creating and expanding my own PLN. So much I feel like I have learned more than any of my 4 years as an Undergrad!
    When reading this chapter I did reflect on my own personal learning experience as a youth and immediately thought of my fourth grade teacher. In her class we learned so much by DOING! I now realize compared to my teachers before and after, this was different and better. I can vividly remember specifics from that class more than any other
    Now as a teacher myself I want to be that innovative too. Have students learn by doing too and leverage the power of technology to create and learn.
    "Change is the opportunity to do something Great!"

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  22. I definitely see learning experiences in my classroom changing because of what I've been reading. As I read through the chapters my head is always swirling with ideas of what needs to change and what is something I'm doing right.
    I like the idea of starting an Instagram for my class. Teaching Family and Consumer Sciences we often create fun things in class (like food!) that I would love to share via instagram so the students can see their work out there and also share it with friends and family.
    There are also some projects I do where students are creating things but I think I need to tweak them to make sure they are getting the most out of them that they can. Just because they're making a video demonstrating a good manner doesn't mean they really understand using manners and good vs bad. I need to make sure that content is still there.

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    1. I have a class instagram account for my 6th grade science students...I post pictures of them doing their labs...they love it!

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  23. Social Media can be a scary thing now days, however with the right tools and guidance it is possible to see it effective in the classroom. Although I feel that I am not using it to its fullest potential, I experienced a great sense of connection with my students. The school was conducting an eLearning mock day. A few students were on google hangouts asking questions. At one point I was not able to answer a student’s question about technology. The coolest thing happened. Other students started in on the conversation and helped each other out. The students were working together using the social media. This scenario reminded me of how Couros was discussing the idea of “thinking within the box.” I believe that it ties back to using social media as one of the tools to innovate the classroom. My goal is to begin feeling more comfortable with social media.

    I enjoyed reading about the 8 characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset. I loved that in one of the 8 characteristics the author asks this question, “Would you want to be a learner in your own classroom?” This reflecting question reminded me of my own schooling and I asked myself, what did I enjoy learning about? I enjoyed the projects and the material that was interesting, different, and exciting. Now not all assignments have to be a project, but shouldn’t the material be interesting, different, and relevant?

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    1. I would agree, that it should be interesting, different, and relevant. I also think that is what Couros is trying to get across on being innovative.

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  24. In the preschool setting I have seen a shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric classrooms. The idea Couros introduced of creating classrooms where the learners not only become risk takers but create something that will link the new information to prior knowledge is becoming a reality. I am continually amazed at what 3 and 4 year olds are able to create. I enjoyed reading about the reflective component of learning. As teachers we are constantly asking ourselves how we can improve our lessons to better meet the needs of all of our students. I am curious what answers we would have if we asked some of our youngest learners the questions presented in the chapter.

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    1. Lynn,
      After reading your post I thought, "How great to start this at this level!". Multiple that each year until they get to the middle grades, and instead of having an adversion to learning, they look forward year after year to increasing their potential for what they can learn and create. School is about the students, meeting their needs, and helping them find success.

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  25. I often use the reflective characteristic in my classroom. I remember when I was in college we had to reflect on EVERYTHING and I often found it silly and time consuming. Now that I am an educator, I find reflecting on even just my day alone is so important and helpful. When I am reflecting, I really am thinking about what I need to change about my day to make it more successful. I often reflect on my classroom management plan. I am always looking for a better technique to use when needed. I am consistently networking with my co-workers and peers. I feel I am taking risks while trying new teaching techniques in my classroom, especially if my co-workers haven't tried them yet. Teaching kindergarten definitely has the room to try as many new things as possible. I feel sometimes it helps keep up with the kids energy and attention span. I definitely want to make it a goal for myself to implement the other characteristics in my daily classroom life.

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  26. Chapter Three proved to be interesting and thought provoking. The italic words of teacher- centric and learner - centric got me to thinking. I teach students with severe cognitive and medical disabilities. This position has challenged me to use other ways of learning. The biggest game changer to my students continues to be the iPad. Yes, the iPad gives the students visual and auditory learning activities and experiences, but its greatest attribute is giving the students opportunities to achieve success by independently manipulating the Apps. Reading this chapter I realized incorporating the iPad allows the student to be learner - centric. The next section of this chapter that grabbed me was instead of helping this generation to become problem solvers to become "problem finders". Thinking about this, that's what Apple has done as the Apple watch needs the settings from the Apple iPhone. Not that long ago, you just had to wind your watch. To me this is an excellent example of "problem finders".

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  27. Twitter has been a wonderful addition to my professional development. There is so much there and I feel that we are much better as educators when we take advantage of those resources. I think reflecting is important. I feel asking the question, "What do we want the student to learn/how do we want them to be different at the end of a lesson?"

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  28. I'm pretty active on social networks and attempting to share out ideas. By no means do I feel adequate to give such advice, but I do it anyway because of George's point that, "Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant." I work with an amazing staff, and part of my reasoning for networking is to encourage them to do the same. I work with teachers that desire to provide great learning experiences for their students where they can explore their own passion for learning. I encourage my teachers to openly share because, "Isolation is often the enemy of innovation."

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  29. Couros is blunt in saying, "As leaders,we cannot tell others they should be innovative while we continue to do the same thing" (p. 59). As a tech integrator, I work to model by making agendas as linked Google Docs, sharing out resources through Google Drive, offering differentiated project-based PD, presenting at conferences, gathering input by using various surveys and assessment tools, building my PLN by connecting to educators outside our corporation, modeling flexibility when technology breaks down, encouraging colleagues and being transparent about failure. I feel continually challenged to keep finding ways to connect and work with others. The daily and weekly needs of students, administrators and teachers continually require a lot of my time. I have to be very purposeful in not getting bogged down solving immediate problems, so that I actively connect, build and collaboratively create. I also want to stay closely connected to teachers and the realities of their classrooms; otherwise, I may be leading efforts to build artificial solutions to misunderstood problems.

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  30. I network by being a member of professional associations, attending conferences, collaborating with the local public library, and subscribing to the listserv. I am also a voracious reader, and try to incorporate lots of up to date content with my students. I try to have a balance between creative learning and reflective learning.

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    1. What are your favorite books that you have read?

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  31. I see the characteristics of an innovator's mindset changing learning experiences in my classroom since using this mindset will allow students to engage more in the content. By discovering the content more so on their own and creating their own results, projects, discussion they will be able to own their education. I took more risks so far this year with putting students in charge of their own learning. I previously did so with projects, with worked out well, but now I am doing it with small activities, as well. I leave the students in charge of their learning. I also give them choice in what they are learning, so that it is more relatable to them since they choose their learning. If we are covering nationalism and what is it, they would discover nationalism I two different countries and compare them. In the future, I see myself taking more risks by having students publish their work online somehow. I know I am not doing this tomorrow, but I think there are great opportunities out there, and I want my students to be a part of it.

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  32. Couros writes, "When students come to school, we continually tell them "You need to share!" because we know the great benefit to their learning. Educators would benefit if we decided to take our own advice. One way we can do this is through blogs." This past summer I posted in #6thchat on Twitter that I was looking for a class of blogging partners for my sixth graders. Out of this has come an amazing partnership. Our rural classroom blogs with an urban classroom in Cincinnati on Kidblog. These kids are truly networked. Not only do they really think about their audience now, but they learn from commenting on their blogging partner's techniques as writers. The partners have been wanting to meet each other so my teaching partner and I listened to them and arranged a Skype visit this week. There was so much joy in this meeting! And a little wonder: one Cincinnati student exclaimed, "You own a pig??!!" as a farm girl explained what 4h is. Meanwhile, I share writing ideas with my Cincy partner teacher, and she shares tech expertise with me. The students share, my partner teacher and I share, and we're all growing as learners.

    This week, inspired by George's book, I decided that the best audience for my students' argument essays which persuade people to vote for a presidential candidate would be the campaign staff of each candidate. I told the students that the candidates should see their support. On Monday, we are sending emails directly to the candidates' campaign headquarters, along with Twitter messages to the candidates. When the students learned about their new audiences, they felt that their words really matter. This idea of taking my students' work and really reaching out beyond the walls of the school has been a dream of mine for awhile, but buoyed by this reading, I'm ready to take risks.

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  33. I loved how George asked if you would enjoy being a student in your classroom. That really hit home. It has made me look at some of the things we've done and how to tweak them to make them more applicable and not boring.

    I am so thankful for my rockstar principal Tom Stoner who bugged me (every day!) until I made a twitter account. What a great networking tool! I've found a lot of great ideas for my digcit class on there, and just yesterday I found a digcit teacher to bounce ideas back and forth with. I wouldn't have half the ideas and collaborators if it wasn't for twitter. I also think it is huge to network with other people at other schools in person. Last week I went to a middle school conference at Valparaiso University and it was so nice to sit at a table with teachers from a different school and get ideas from them. I love that most teachers are always willing to share and work together.

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    1. I also identified with the question if you would enjoy being a student in your classroom. In fact, I am reflecting on this while preparing my lesson plans for next week. While it is not my job to entertain students, it is my job to make connections to real life situations and these students.

      I am still new to the Twitter world but I see the importance of the social aspect of this tool. Who do you follow that you would recommend?

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  34. After reading this I think I will be more willing to take risks and be innovative in my teaching. I try to put a lot of thought into planning and making sure that I'm covering the content that I need to. I think some of being innovative is having confidence in your teaching abilities that you can do something different and still cover the needed standards.

    I love using Twitter to connect with other educators and professionals. I have gotten so many good ideas that other people have shared. Another reason I enjoy Twitter is the positive thoughts and articles that others post. Through Twitter my class and several others from my school heard about Global Read Aloud and were able to participate in that experience, which was wonderful. We even connected with the author of the book and did a video chat with the author from London! It was amazing for the students and the teachers.

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    1. Julia,
      I sometimes wonder if the covering of standards, etc. is what has killed innovation in our schools.

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    2. Erin,
      I think so! I feel like the standards are pretty overwhelming at times. We also have a curriculum map to follow so that,in theory,if a child moves from a different school in our district we would be in the same place as where they came from. I understand the need but it does make it difficult when everyone is expected to be doing the same thing at the same time. I would like more freedom:)

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    3. Erin,
      I think so! I feel like the standards are pretty overwhelming at times. We also have a curriculum map to follow so that,in theory,if a child moves from a different school in our district we would be in the same place as where they came from. I understand the need but it does make it difficult when everyone is expected to be doing the same thing at the same time. I would like more freedom:)

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  35. What struck me from reading all of these comments is the importance of the relationships and having support in learning. Yet, there might be times that a teacher needs to innovate as an individual; perhaps they are going against the grain, away from established routines. I'm thinking that in that case, you would still be better off reaching out to someone for support and ideas, even if they are virtual connections.
    One of the most transformational things for me in the past year or so has been Voxer. There are some groups with educators who have become trusted friends, yet I've never met them. The fact that some of them have community values in which it is perfectly all right to throw out an idea or question at random and get answers back (sometimes at random as well) can be very supportive and inspirational. I never would have tried periscope without a Voxer group I belong to. Some groups frequently share failures as well, and that's perfectly all right.

    I have modified some lessons with input and ideas from these virtual communities, and my entire day is often transformed by participation in the #BFC530 chat. I know that I am much more reflective as I formulate answers and posts for Voxer and twitter. My situation is a little different from most classroom teachers in the fact that sometimes the lessons I use stretch across an entire week in the library (sometimes two weeks), and it is not uncommon that the lesson changes several times from when I first use it until the final time. (I like to think that in most cases, it gets better, and I feel sorry for the first groups.)

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  36. I enjoyed the phrase, “Sometimes the most valuable thing you get from the network isn’t an idea but the inspiration or courage to try something new.” I had underlined it in my book and then saw it was in bold on the next page! I have seen teachers trying new things all over Pinterest and Twitter and it gives me a boost to try new things too.

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    1. I am a huge fan of Pinterest and get a lot of ideas from it! I often tweek what I see but its great inspiration.

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  37. I am doing a good job collaborating with some of my fellow teachers, but I'm not doing great at taking risks yet. I am new to this school and re-starting my public school teaching career and every day feels like a huge risk! I am working to integrate more student lead learning opportunities, but my patience sometimes is not great enough to wait long enough for the students to really settle down and engage. It too often feels like they are "wasting time" and not really working. Part of that is my inability to find challenging enough projects/assignments to give them. I'm working hard to find the right balance and hopefully collaborating with a broader group through social media will help.

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  38. I have always done new things in the classroom. However, I did these new things to prevent myself form becoming bored! After reading chapter three, I see so much innovation going on in my school, I just didn't realize it, among both kids and teachers. One thought that I keep having as I read is how our society stifles innovation, especially if you think about it as using something for a whole new purpose for which it was intended. When I taught preschool, I loved how the kids could take an object and transform it into something totally different for their intended play. I still see it a little bit in my third graders. But, from my observation of middle schoolers as an athletic coach, it is gone. Unless they are asked to be innovated it ( create something, etc) they aren't. This situation inspires me to encourage innovation constantly.

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  39. The networking component of innovation stood out to me. I love going to conferences or just sitting in on other math teacher's lessons to get new ideas that spark my own ideas. I am willing to try new things, but you can only attend so many conferences due to time and money constraints. I have utilized Pinterest, but it seems many folks here are using Twitter for these opportunities so I will be looking into it.

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    1. Stacey-I'm one that is a huge advocate for the power of Twitter, especially when growing your PLN. I, like you, have a passion for learning and getting inspiration from others and have grown so much through this networking. Twitter is a 24 hour professional growth tool from reading the tweets of others, to joining Twitter chats. I would highly recommend giving it a try if you haven't done so already. I think you will find it to be a powerful tool for your networking toolbox.

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  40. I have six different preps per day. Therefore, I am trying to achieve the standards and goals set forth by the state and the school corporation for each class every day. As Couros states, "If I, as an education and innovation coach, had told Lisa she’d better use technology or demanded to see specific grade outcomes for her course, she, like many teachers feel compelled to do, may have clung to what she knew and hoped for the best—even if that meant the lesson was boring and ineffective." Our school corporation mandates that to be considered “Effective” 80% of my students must pass the final exam with an 80% or better. Because of this expectation and the course load that I teach, I feel I must stick to the “safe” lesson plan for both my sanity and my ability to get my raise/stipend at the end of the year. I appreciate the idea that innovation can start small. You can change one thing at time and see where it leads. I agree that it is necessary to demonstrate this innovators mindset to our students. Students often say, “You never taught me this.” I feel we need to get students beyond this thinking to the point where they can find the information and process it on their own without it being spoon fed to them. "Teaching students by example to be self-starters and to continuously evaluate how they might improve their education helps them learn how to effectively learn. When we stop simply telling students how to learn, and, rather, act as a “guide on the side,” we can support them in a way that encourages them to find their own solutions." If the traditional way of education continues, students will never have knowledge beyond what their instructor knows, which is limited. If we come along with the “Innovators Mindset”, in a way it gives educators permission to try something different, and if it fails, we have a teaching opportunity to guide them along through the problem solving steps to find other possible solutions. I think networking is a vital key to being innovative. I can find out what other teachers are doing and having success with, and I can adjust it to my classroom. I can throw out ideas, and get feedback as to the success of an idea. The innovation doesn’t have to start with just me; I can get it from other sources.

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  41. I love the idea of supporting others in getting from "their point A to their point B" (P.47). In my coaching role, I find that this phrase emulates the idea of supporting individualized growth and teacher learning through a growth and innovator's mindset. The same holds true for our students. In thinking about the balance between best practices and innovation, I believe it all comes back to the idea of truly teaching for transfer. More times than not, teaching with the end in mind/transfer lends itself to student innovation. How we, as educators, support our students through the lenses of the the characteristic's of an innovator's mindset, reflects the types of learning taking place within our schools and classrooms. I've seen so many more educators not only grow their PLNs through face to face interactions, but through the power of Twitter and other social media outlets as well. Taking time to network with others, allows the freedom of growth and idea of actionable change. How we continue to model characteristics of an innovator's mindset to our colleagues and students will impact how instruction will continue to be influenced.

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  42. I love trying new things. Otherwise it becomes very boring. Sometimes it is just tweaking something I have done in the past. I love finding new lessons on Facebook and Pinterest. Teachers around the world have so many great ideas and sharing these ideas help make my own class more interesting and challenging.

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  43. My innovations in my class are very different then then the regular school teacher. I teach gym and technology is not available in my gym. However, dance is an area where my students can become very creative. For the dance test students have to create a dance for a duration of one to three minutes. I allow the students to nominate songs and I choose 5. They may do a solo or a group performance. Some students refuse to do it but once they do their performance they love it. Students are also allowed to incorporate any equipment that I may have in my gym.

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  44. I felt that the statement of "I can't wait to go to school and be mediocre" was a show stopper for me. What do we say each morning. This book is causing me to evaluate my role as assistant principal. I want to help teacher feel successful, which will help them allow students to be successful.

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  45. As I reflect on this reading, I can't help but start compiling mental lists of the things I would like to change/implement in my classroom. I have always tried to give as many hands-on experiences as possible, but are they truly student-driven? Not all of them. I know that is one area where I need to grow. I also love the idea of having the students create an overview video or post of a lesson before it is even taught. I think this would greatly help them and me focus their learning goals. The thought of thinking about whether or not I would like to be a student in my classroom is a great reminder!

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    1. I completely felt the same way! While I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of many things that could be changed. Also, thinking of whether or not I would like to be a student in my classroom, really got me thinking. I have some constraints as I do not have a classroom. I have to go from room to room on a cart. There is so much more that I could do for my students with my own classroom, but I have a few things that I could change up now for my cart.

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  46. The concept of having and feeling supported really struck me. As the ED Tech specialist, I enjoy working with teachers and love that I'm not responsible for evaluating them. I think one of the hardest parts of all the RISE teacher evaluations is that many teachers feel like they have to be perfect In the eyes of the administrators instead of using them for support and as a resource to take risks and innovate. I'm very thankful that I can help teachers that want to innovate with technology and they don't have to be afraid to fail in front of me, while knowing that when they succeed I will celebrate with them as well.

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  47. “The growth mindset is crucial in one’s openness to learning” (Kindle, Ch. 2). In the past five years, my educational philosophy has changed to believe that abilities, intelligences, and talents of my students can be developed to help them grow and be successful. Every educator should have this “innovator’s mindset” and thinking to reach students and support their learning. While is it so scary and uncommon to embrace failure (especially with the constraints of testing, evaluations, and standards over our heads), this is the first step to helping many teachers change the learning experiences in their classroom. “Having the freedom to fail is important to innovation. But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency and grit” (Kindle, Ch. 2). Helping our students develop problem-solving skills, perseverance and a genuine curiosity for learning should drive the structure of our classrooms. This process can be overwhelming, but when embraced, puts the learning in the hands of the students and gives them ownership of their success and allows them to explore their passions.

    From embracing new learning experiences (such as PBL), to changing the structure of my classroom (shift from teacher and student, to learner and facilitator), I take risks every day to model the change I want to see in my students. From tears and frustration along the way, I now have a scaffolded path that I can guide students down when they experience the type of learning that is not just “done to them”, but gets them to think critically and develop personal goals along the way. It is so important to help students raise their expectations of their capabilities. For so long, so many students feel “spoon-fed” and hesitate to do something “out of the norm”. Taking students on a “learning journey” throughout the years develops their confidence, takes them out of the comfort zone, and gets them to push the limits of their thinking.

    “Great educators can work within the constraints of the system and still create innovative learning opportunities for their students” (Kindle, Ch. 3). Both my students and I take risks EVERY DAY in the learning we create and engage in in the classroom. I recently decided to change the way that I taught The Hunger Games in my reading class. I knew it would be a risk trying to balance rigor, to teach the content and skills with the book, and engagement. However, after reflecting on my previous book unit, and networking for ideas, I knew that this would be a risk worth investing in and students have been diligent, engaged, and invested in not only the content, but the critical thinking as well.

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  48. I have found Twitter to be a valuable tool for me as I continually learn from others. However, I am hesitant to use Twitter with my students, especially since some of my students are under 13.

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  49. I definitely have an empathetic mindset. This can be both good and bad! While I desperately want to connect with the students and make their learning meaningful, I think that I sacrifice taking risks because I don't want to fail. I am becoming more comfortable with technology so I have started integrating that into my lessons. I also have been experimenting with flipping the classroom and the students really seem to enjoy the change of pace! I love finding new ideas online for lessons that I can tweak to fit my students' needs!

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  50. I have realized that the use of technology in the classroom really gets the attention of my students, and I have been taking "baby steps" to integrate technology into the learning process. There is so much more that I could be doing with just the few apps that I do use, but because of current time constraints, I have filed these ideas on my "to do" list, to be implemented by next Fall!

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  51. In terms of networking I am in the social studies and technology groups on my edmodo account. It is great to see other teachers talking about the different ideas and topics they are trying to implement in their classrooms.
    I think for me, trying to implement those very same ideas is how I try to be a risk taker. I think anytime you try a new way to teach a lesson is a risk, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt, but that is okay. My school has had a year long course in apple training as part of our professional development. Some of the things I have seen throughout the year I was skeptical if they would be worthwhile in my classroom, but I took the risk and trying them out and lo and behold they have turned into worthwhile activities in my classroom.

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  52. I inadvertently posted this earlier as anonymous. New to blogging!

    I am doing a good job collaborating with some of my fellow teachers, but I'm not doing great at taking risks yet. I am new to this school and re-starting my public school teaching career and every day feels like a huge risk! I am working to integrate more student lead learning opportunities, but my patience sometimes is not great enough to wait long enough for the students to really settle down and engage. It too often feels like they are "wasting time" and not really working. Part of that is my inability to find challenging enough projects/assignments to give them. I'm working hard to find the right balance and hopefully collaborating with a broader group through social media will help.

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  53. I have been trying to take a lot of new risks this year. As a teacher new to a team and new to teaching 8th grade, I've spent the whole year taking risks. It's not easy for me to speak up and advocate for myself, and I've really taken some risks doing that. I've also taken risks this year with interdisciplinary units. It was the first time I've done that.

    With my students, I push them to take risks-- in the books they read, the way they approach a topic or article, in their writing. It is hard to do. They are very accustomed to needing to have the "right" answer and find it hard to understand that sometimes there can be more than one right answer that they have to explore.

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