bird feather shells beachAn Activity and Goal Matrix can help you evaluate whether or not your planned activities provide a focus on the student’s IEP goals. It can help insure there are ample opportunities in all activities to work on these goals. Infusing skill-building opportunities throughout the day and in a variety of environments is very important. In Active Learning, almost any activity can be engineered to provide opportunities to work on almost every IEP goal.

The example we include is only meant to illustrate an Active Learning approach that clearly focuses on the student’s IEP goals. In this example the student’s peers are learning about the ocean and animals that live in the ocean for their science class. We imagine that the teacher might share a number of stories in circle time about the beach and ocean with her students. This topic can be related to both reading and science goals.  She might select materials to use that could be found at the beach or perhaps have the characteristic of either sinking or floating.

Additionally gross and fine motor skills such as strengthening legs, arms, and fingers, learning to intentionally grasp and release, and cross midline are supported in multiple activities. 

Developing better sensory efficiency skills (touch, taste, hearing, and smell) are also worked on throughout the day.

Although finger-painting with food is an activity primarily focused on developing finger strength and crossing midline, the child may choose to explore the taste, smell, and texture of various pureed fruits and vegetables. The student might also choose to dip his feet into the goo, or lick it with his tongue.

Certain caregiving activities and events occur every day such as travel to and from the bus, toileting, and eating snacks and meals. These also provide opportunities to work on both learned and emerging skills if the adult supporting the student uses the appropriate phase of educational treatment (for example: offering, imitation, interaction).

Social skills are learned using morning greeting and departing rituals and during interaction with adults in specific activities and with others informally.

Self-regulation and reduction of stress are supported by a full and predictable schedule. 

The Activity and Goal Matrix can also work as a lesson plan for the teacher. If shared with the student’s team, related service staff may consider whether or not some of the unit themes can be brought into specific activities they may be undertaking with the student.  For example, taking a walk to the sandbox or to explore grasses and plants outside during an orientation and mobility lesson.

The Activity and Goal Matrix is copied each week with only slight changes in the activities.  For example, if the following week was focused on ocean tides, small drink containers with screw caps that are filled with different materials such as uncooked macaroni, sand, pebbles would float at different levels. They would also produce different sounds if shaken or rolled. A tipping tray filled with objects that roll back and forth can be related to the motion of the waves and tide. Playing in a tray of sand, water and shells can work on finger strength. The student could listen to sailing songs, sounds of the beach, or calls of seabirds.

Students with significant and multiple disabilities require highly individualized instruction. Utilizing strategies like an Activity and Goal Matrix can help the entire team to plan a full day of study for the student who needs an Active Learning approach. It also helps the team think about how to bring in general content that aligns with the content being learned by peers. Additionally it allows for critical expanded core curriculum skills to be included daily.

Note: Dr. Nielsen recommends alternating between Gross and Fine Motor activities throughout the day.  Some activities can include both types of motor activities. On any given day, the teacher may want to vary the order of some activities while some will stay the same day-to-day (toileting, eating lunch).

Day 1

Activity

Goal – Gross Motor

Goal – Fine Motor

Goal - Communication

Goal – Reading & Science

Goal - Feeding

Use legs and feet to explore surfaces in various positions (lying down, sitting, standing).

Cross mid-line left to right and right to left to reach and grasp objects.

Take a turn in an adult-child interaction.

Explore objects using various senses (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing) when offered by an adult.

Use a spoon and palmar grasp to scoop and bring food to his mouth.

Travel from bus and greet staff / peers

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Exploring objects offered during circle time and vocalizing with songs

x

x

x

x

 

Eating a snack

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Playing in HOPSA dress (objects on it) hung from hook in ceiling with bins of sand, water, towels, pebbles underfoot

x

x

 

x

 

Reading experience books with adult – trip to the beach

 

x

x

x

 

Finger-painting and playing with spoons in banana pudding.

 

x

 

 

x

Eating lunch

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting and brushing teeth

x

x

x

x

x – similar grasp to hold toothbrush

Swinging a hammock swing with ESSEF board and stand at feet various graspable items attached to hammock and things that make noise on Board.

x

x

 

 

 

Playing with an adult on the Resonance Board with various materials.

x

x

x

x

x

Rest time listening to songs and recorded stories and vocalizing

x- if stories or songs are activated by switches placed by feet

x- if stories/songs are activated by student using switches or other materials

 

x

 

Taking a walk to the trampoline or outside.

x

x

x

x

 

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Travel to bus and leave for the day

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Day 2

Activity

Goal – Gross Motor

Goal – Fine Motor

Goal - Communication

Goal – Reading & Science

Goal - Feeding

Use legs and feet to explore surfaces in various positions (lying down, sitting, standing).

Cross mid-line left to right and right to left to reach and grasp objects.

Take a turn in an adult-child interaction.

Explore objects using various senses (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing) when offered by an adult.

Use a spoon and palmar grasp to scoop and bring food to his mouth.

Travel from bus and greet staff / peers

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Exploring objects offered during circle time and vocalizing with songs

x

x

x

x

 

Eating a snack

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Playing in HOPSA dress (objects on it) hung from hook in ceiling with pebbles, bubbling foot massager, towels underneath

x

x

 

x

 

Reading experience books with adult – Trip to the beach

 

x

x

x

 

Finger- or foot-painting and playing with spoons in applesauce and oats.

x

x

 

 

x

Eating lunch

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting and brushing teeth

x

x

x

x

x – similar grasp to hold toothbrush

Swinging a hammock swing with ESSEF board and stand at feet various graspable items attached to hammock and things that make noise on Board.

x

x

 

x

 

Playing with an adult on the Resonance Board with various materials.

x

x

x

x

x

Rest time listening to songs and recorded stories and vocalizing

 x- if stories or songs are activated by switches placed by feet

x- if stories/songs are activated by student using switches or other materials

 

x

 

Taking a walk to the trampoline or outside

x

x

x

x

 

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Travel to bus and leave for the day

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Day 3

Activity

Goal – Gross Motor

Goal – Fine Motor

Goal - Communication

Goal – Reading & Science

Goal - Feeding

Use legs and feet to explore surfaces in various positions (lying down, sitting, standing).

Cross mid-line left to right and right to left to reach and grasp objects.

Take a turn in an adult-child interaction.

Explore objects using various senses (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing) when offered by an adult.

Use a spoon and palmar grasp to scoop and bring food to his mouth.

Travel from bus and greet staff / peers

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Exploring objects offered during circle time and vocalizing with songs

x

x

x

x

 

Eating a snack

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Playing in HOPSA dress (objects on it) hung from hook in ceiling playing in wading pool with objects that float (small pieces wood, arm floats, fishing corks) and sink (pebbles, starfish/sand dollars)

x

x

 

x

 

Reading experience books with adult – Trip to the Beach

 

x

x

x

 

Playing in Kenetic Sand with sand pail, shovel, seashells, stones, and pieces of drift wood.

x

x

x

x

x

Eating lunch

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting and brushing teeth

x

x

x

x

x – similar grasp to hold toothbrush

Swinging a hammock swing with ESSEF board and stand at feet various graspable items attached to hammock and things that make noise on Board.

x

x

 

x

 

Playing with an adult on the Resonance Board with various materials.

x

x

x

x

 

Rest time listening to songs and recorded stories and vocalizing

 x- if stories or songs are activated by switches placed by feet

x- if stories/songs are activated by student using switches or other materials

 

x

 

Taking a walk to the trampoline or outside

x

x

x

x

 

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Travel to bus and leave for the day

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

 Day 4

Activity

Goal – Gross Motor

Goal – Fine Motor

Goal - Communication

Goal – Reading & Science

Goal - Feeding

Use legs and feet to explore surfaces in various positions (lying down, sitting, standing).

Cross mid-line left to right and right to left to reach and grasp objects.

Take a turn in an adult-child interaction.

Explore objects using various senses (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing) when offered by an adult.

Use a spoon and palmar grasp to scoop and bring food to his mouth.

Travel from bus and greet staff / peers

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Exploring objects offered during circle time and vocalizing with songs

x

x

x

x

 

Eating a snack

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Playing in HOPSA dress (objects on it) hung from hook in ceiling with trays of grass sod, shells, sand underfoot

x

x

 

 

 

Reading experience books with adult

 

x

x

x

 

Finger-painting and playing with spoons in cool instant mashed potatoes and potato chips or chopped herbs.

 

x

 

x

x

Eating lunch

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting and brushing teeth

x

x

x

x

x – similar grasp to hold toothbrush

Swinging a hammock swing with ESSEF board and stand at feet various graspable items attached to hammock and things that make noise on Board.

x

x

 

x

 

Playing with an adult on the Resonance Board with various materials.

x

x

x

x

 

Rest time listening to songs and recorded stories and vocalizing

 x- if stories or songs are activated by switches placed by feet

x- if stories/songs are activated by student using switches or other materials

 

x

 

Taking a walk to the trampoline or outside

x

x

x

x

 

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Travel to bus and leave for the day

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

 Day 5

Activity

Goal – Gross Motor

Goal – Fine Motor

Goal - Communication

Goal – Reading & Science

Goal - Feeding

Use legs and feet to explore surfaces in various positions (lying down, sitting, standing).

Cross mid-line left to right and right to left to reach and grasp objects.

Take a turn in an adult-child interaction.

Explore objects using various senses (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing) when offered by an adult.

Use a spoon and palmar grasp to scoop and bring food to his mouth.

Travel from bus and greet staff / peers

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

Exploring objects offered during circle time and vocalizing with songs

x

x

x

x

 

Eating a snack

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Playing in HOPSA dress (objects on it) and track with bins underfoot tray of corks, sand, pebbles.

x

x

 

x

 

Reading experience books with adult

 

x

x

x

 

Finger-painting and playing with spoons in mashed sweet potatoes or pumpkin.

 

x

 

x

x

Eating lunch

 

x

x

x

x

Toileting and brushing teeth

x

x

x

x

x – similar grasp to hold toothbrush

Swinging a hammock swing with ESSEF board and stand at feet various graspable items attached to hammock and things that make noise on Board.

x

x

 

x

 

Playing with an adult on the Resonance Board with various materials.

x

x

x

x

x – if working on scooping with items

Rest time listening to songs and recorded stories and vocalizing

 x- if stories or songs are activated by switches placed by feet

x- if stories/songs are activated by student using switches or other materials

 

x

 

Taking a walk to the trampoline or outside

x

x

x

x

 

Toileting

x

x

x

x

 

Travel to bus and leave for the day

x

x-  (activity boards on hallway walls or tactile symbols and landmarks)

x

 

 

 

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Implementation Strategies

The FIELA Curriculum offers a variety of level appropriate activities for children with multiple special needs. To help plan a daily routine, some activity ideas require use of gross motor skills, others fine motor skills, and still others require both gross and fine motor skills.   

The FIELA Curriculum is made up of a book (The FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments), a catalog of activity cards and a velcro board which is used to organize the child's week.   It was developed by Dr. Nielsen to help us determine which environments and experiences are appropriate for an individual at any point in his or her development and how they can be provided in a number of different ways.  The manual, catalog of activities and velcro board may be purchased from LilliWorks.

Photo of the FIELA manual, activity cards and schedule.

 FIELA is an acronym that stands for Flexible, Individual, Enriched, Level, Appropriate.

Flexible because it can be adapted to the child's interests, learning needs and the skill(s) the child prefers to learn at any specific time.

Individual in that it recognizes the impact of the unique combination of disabilities on the way the child goes about acquiring psycho-social and cognitive-motor skills.

Enriched because it maximizes varied neuronal activity.

Level Appropriate because it meets the learning needs of the child at a specific point in time according to his or her assessed level in all of the developmental areas.

Structure of the Day

Dr. Nielsen suggests that activities alternate between fine and gross movement activities throughout the day. Remember being ACTIVE is the key to all learning.  She suggests that the learner have a minimum of 45 minutes of adult-child interaction every day. The child also needs time for independent play and exploration. 

The Structure of the FIELA Curriculum

The Manual

A manual comes with a full FIELA Curriculum set or can be ordered as a separate item from Lilli Works. In the manual is a description of the FIELA curriculum and a list of all the activities contained on the individual cards included in the curriculum set.

The Schedule Board

The FIELA Curriculum also includes a schedule board with the days of the week across the top and 6 sessions listed top to bottom on the left.  This flannel board allows for the activity cards to be velcroed in place. When utilized, this board can show an individual child's schedule of daily activities and can be set up for the week. 

A separate collection of activities are included under Alternative Learning Environments to the right of the board.  These activities are available to replace an activity the child does not want to complete in the daily schedule. This way the child is always given a choice about what he wants to do and demands on the child are minimized.  These also may be a "go-to" place for filler activities if a child does not want to stay in a scheduled activity for the time that has been allotted in the class schedule.

Daily WeeklySchedule

The Cards

Within the large binder that accompanies the curriculum manual small, color-coded cards are provided to organize daily and weekly acvities for the student. 

These cards are selected based on the child's functioning level. For example, a card marked F.6+ targets fine motor skills for a student who is at 6 months or higher developmentally. So after the learner's gross and fine movement skills are determined using the Functional Scheme, you can select activities that are at his developmental level. You would not use an F.6+ activity with a child who is at a 0-3 month level in Fine Movement. You could use this activity with a student who is higher than a 6 month level.  This provides for continued practice with previously learned skills and allows the student to experience success in his ability to accomplish tasks successfully. Slightly changing materials that are used in the activity can provide the novelty necessary to keep the child "curious and active" (Stage 2 of the Dynamic Learning Circle). 

Yellow Cards indicate Fine Movement activities. The examples below are focused on using hands and fingers. They can relate to skills such as exploring with hands and fingers (sensory efficiency skill in the expanded core curriculum or ECC) or reaching across mid-line (goal in occupational therapy or OT).  As you can see, these skills are practiced in prone using a Support Bench in the first activity and in sitting in the second activity. Depending on how the student is positioned you might also be working of increasing neck, shoulder and core muscle strength. Since the fingerpainting activity utilizes pudding the child might incidentally work on finger-feeding skills bringing hand to mouth, exploring different tastes, and experiencing sticky textures, not to mention use of lips and tongue to get the pudding off his hands!

F.6No.6 30

Blue Cards indicate Gross Movement activities. In the cards below the activities target a child that is at the 9 month or higher level.  Both activities involve the use of movement with legs.  One is related to an undressing activity when the child is expected to kick off her pants after they have been pulled down to her heels, which might take place in a toileting or hygiene routine or preparing to take a swim.  The other activity involves walking in a HOPSA dress on a track in bare feet. It can relate to skills such as learning to shift weight to balance (PT), moving legs and feet for walking (physical therapy - PT and orientation and mobililty - O&M), navigating uneven surfaces (O&M), exploring various textures using his feet (sensory efficiency). If objects in the bins are based on a science lession or a story about plants that is being shared during circle time, the student might be working on goals related to the science general curriculum and concepts related to language development.

G.9No.9. 2

Green Cards indicate combined Fine and Gross Movement activities. This activitiy combines use of hands and arms to reach and grasp shoes, putting feet "in" and taking feet "out", exploring size, weight, smell, texture, and shape, and learning that shoes are for feet. This activity could be done on a Resonance Board while lying down or sitting up. If the child is able to sit or stand and reach, the shoes could be placed in a shoe rack.  The student might also have shoes in boxes and practice opening boxes to find the shoes. Though focused on both fine and gross motor skills (grasping and lifting shoes of various sizes, moving legs and feet to get shoes on or off), it is easy to see how other skills such as concept development (same-different, big-little, soft-hard) or math (pairs, size, weight) might also be learned.

G.F.15No.15 18

Other codes are included on each card, for example, a.c. indicates this is an adult-child activity. In adult-child activities one of the primary goals is around interaction and communication.  In the goal below, the learner is at the 15 month or higher level in gross motor skills. The child is able to walk to some degree and so it is focused on gross motor.  At the same time the learner might be working on orientation and mobililty skills such as trailing a wall or using a pre-cane device as part of this activity. The student might focus on making choices about a juice (communication) or learning to drink from a cup (OT) depending on his abilities and how the activity is structured.

Adult-child card

S. indicates that this activity requires some sight. In the card below, switched on "torches" (flashlights) could be placed around the child on a Resonance Board or inside a bin for the child to reach, grasp and explore (OT goals). If the child also has cortical visual impairment it might provide practice in using vision to notice an object (Sensory Efficiency). 

Some Sight Card

Activities not Goals

Remember, these cards are activities not goals.  Think of each activity as a lesson you are offering. They are much like lessons on addition, reading circle to practice reading aloud, or learning how to play a game in PE. You must be clear about the goal you want to achieve when using any activity. 

They do not tell you specifically how to structure the activity. You must individualize this lesson for your student based on his or her IEP, including any accommodations or modifications, supplementary aids and services, or related services. This includes things like the use of specified perceptualizing aids, one-on-one instruction, support from a PT, and other items. 

As we mentioned above, any number of goals could be the focus of an individual activity.  This is good because it means that there are opportunities for the student to work on multiple goals within a single activity. Remember repetition is very important in Active Learning.  If you are unsure that your activities are focused on the child's specific goals you can evaluate them using a goals-activities matrix or you can simply ask yourself, "What goals can be worked on in this activity?" Make sure the activities you select allow you to touch on each goal multiple times during the day. 

Care-giving Activities

There will be, of course, a need to include some care-giving activities each day such as toileting, undressing and dressing, personal hygiene and eating. It is important to select the appropriate approach (Five Phases of Educational Treatment) to use with the child during these activities. Some children may need a slower pace and time to explore the sensory qualities of the items used in these activities, and so the adult uses the Phase 1 strategy of offering. Other children may be able imitate some action of the adult, such as patting or rubbing lotion or taking a turn to scoop a bite of pudding.  Still other learners may be able to "Share the Work" by helping to feed themselves a bite or two, opening containers, pulling down pants and other simple steps.  Some students may be able to do the activity almost independently and the adult uses the technique of "Consequences".

It is easier than you might think to incorporate Active Learning strategies in all activities throughout the child's day. But it does take planning and teamwork. It also requires that everyone is clear about the goal(s) for each activity. The FIELA curriculum is an excellent tool to help in planning the day.

Adding in Calendar Systems

Some students may be able to include the use of an Anticipation level calendar or even a Daily calendar.  If you are unfamiliar with the use of these calendar systems, we encourage you to read Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments Including Deafblindness by Robbie Blaha. This book includes a great tool to determine the appropriate level of calendar for your student.

Use of this calendar system can be a way to have a short discussion with the student to share what he/she is about to do or what he/she has just done. It might also be a time when the student "rejects" an activity that is on the schedule and chooses another activity from the Alternative Learning Environments section of the scheduler. Calendars can become one of the ways a focus on communication and interaction skills can be part of every activity throughout the day.

Note: The scheduler provided in the Curriculum is for the adult.  The student may need a calendar as well, but it should be the type of calendar described in Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments Including Deafblindness.

 

 

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Motor Development

Implementation

From neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert:

We have a brain for one reason and one reason only -- that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. Movement is the only way we have affecting the world around us… I believe that to understand movement is to understand the whole brain. And therefore it’s important to remember when you are studying memory, cognition, sensory processing, they’re there for a reason, and that reason is action.

 From neurologist and author Oliver Sacks:

Much more of the brain is devoted to movement than to language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement.


2GirlsTubActive Learning is all about being active.  As the two quotes above show, the development of motor skills is critical to so much in terms of a child's overall development.

There are many different motor skills that develop in a predictable sequence. Motor development seems to occur naturally from:

  • Reflexive to intentional movement
  • Top (head) to bottom (toe) movement
  • Near (center body) to far (fingers and toes) movement
  • Gross to fine movement

All children need opportunities to practice motor skills thousands of times before these skills become automatic. As they learn these skills, they can interact with people, places and things better.  This is how they come to know about things and how things work. They gain confidence, too, in their own ability to impact the world around them.

Most children with signigicant developmental delays need systematic support to achieve the necessary motor skills that will help them to grow in all areas including communication, cognition, social and emotional areas.

41GirlEchoBucketDr. Nielsen set out to structure a child's day around alternating fine and gross motor activities (see FIELA Curriculum). She developed numerous "perceptualizing aids" so the child could have many opportunities to practice skills as his developmental level so he could move on to the next level of skills development.

To learn more about motor activities and learning environments that can be implemented in the school, home or community setting we suggest visiting these pages on the Active Learning Space website:

Jack's Progression

Description: This video shows the progression of a boy over a period of approximately 4 years, from lying prone on a Resonance Board to sitting up independently.

jack progression

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

motor development collage

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One approach to setting up a classroom is to organize it into centers.  TSBVI teacher Suzanne Becker explains why she adopted a center-based approach,  "I’ve structured the classroom into distinct learning environments or centers differentiated from one another by themes, the materials stored there, the seating arrangements (tables/chairs, couches, beanbags, rugs), and the physical landmarks dividing them. This organization has helped my students make associations between the centers and the interactions, activities, materials and sensory experiences that occur in each."

Centers for Younger Students

TSBVI teachers Sara Kitchen and Amy Doezma share photos of the centers in their classroom.

                  Bubble ball pit              clothing exploration center

                    Bubble Ball Play Area                              Clothing Exploration Center

 

                  gross motor center             HOPSA Dress center

                    Gross Motor Center                                   HOPSA Dress Center

 

                             independent play                  kitchen exploration

                               Independent Play Center                Kitchen Exploration Center

 

                             light room          music center

                               Light Room                                     Music Center

 

                   water and sand play center        throwing center

                        Water and Sand Play Center                      Throwing Center

 

Active Learning Class Tour

Description: A brief tour of an Active Learning classroom.

AL class tour

 
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Independent Exploration in the Kitchen Center

Description: A young boy explores kitchen equipment in the Kitchen Center of his classroom.

independent exploration Kitchen center 
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Active Learning Calming Materials

Description: A teenage boy in the Calming Center in his classroom.

 calming materials
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Vocational Center

Description: A teenage boy in the Vocational Center in his classroom.

vocational center video 
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Drum Interaction

Description: A teenage boy and his teacher drum on an assortment of metal tins.

drum interaction 
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Ball Interaction in Throwing Center

Description: A teenage girl and her teacher in the Throwing Center in their classroom.

ball interaction

 
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Hairbrush Interaction

Description: A teenage boy and his teacher explore different hairbrushes.

 hairbrush interaction
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Co-Active Movement in Hygiene Center

Description: A teenage boy and his teacher gently twisting side-to-side while exploring hand lotion.

 coactive movement hygiene
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

 classroom centers collage

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