Candy as a reward

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Aliceacc, Dec 9, 2011.

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  1. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 10, 2011

    I hope you shared in your note to the teacher what you wrote here. She should know that it's not working.
     
  2. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I don't give out candy as a reward, but honestly that's mostly because I don't want to keep candy around my classroom because I know I'd sit there and eat it! I can be a stress eater- having candy around all day would be BAD news! I have a non-food prize box for kids that pass their goals or improve in ALL subjects when we do progress monitoring. Honestly, I kind of wish I hadn't started this- I have the kids do a little sticker chart where they track their own progress toward completing an IEP goal, and this seems like it would be good enough motivation on it's own- and it's a lot more intrinsic than the prize box. However, it's something I started when I first started teaching, and I have many of the same students. So I can't really just take away something they've been getting all along.

    I think kids bringing in cupcakes and things for birthdays is fine. This is allowed at my school. Some teachers will bring in something if they know the student can't afford to bring anything for thier birthday, and it makes that kid's whole day. Our cafeteria serves only extremely healthy food and I think it's good to show the kids that sometimes it's okay to eat "junk" foods too. Trying to only eat healthy foods 100% of the time will elevate the status of junk food in the kid's eyes, which will likely lead to overeating of it later in life. We constantly have treats in the teacher's lounge, mostly brought in by PTA- so I think it would be pretty hypocritical of us to be eating treats and then say the kids can't even have a cupcake on their birthday.
     
  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I keep hard candy in a drawer that students are allowed to have to suck on during class. Most of the time I just have mints but sometimes I have lifesavers and things like that. I occasionally use it as a reward with my middle school class but the other classes have access to it as they want. They mostly like it to suck on during tests or silent work.

    I love to bake so I bake a lot for my kids. I made chocolate covered oreos and pretzels before the play and gave them out to all my classes. They loved it! We're having a holiday potluck on our last review day and I'll be making both Buffalo Chicken Dip and Hershey Kiss Cookies. Even my seniors still sometimes bring in food on their birthdays.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Same here! I would eat more than the kids any day! And I don't want any creepy crawlies in my room, either. :)

    This is pretty common at my school, too. We have much older kids (even old for high school standards), and they love it when the teachers cook something for them. I have an ESL reading class, and a lot of them aren't familiar with American holiday traditions and foods. For Halloween, I made them candied apples, and next week, I bought a Ginger Bread House kit from Walmart for us to put together.
     
  5. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    I agree. I've never given it out during day-to-day subbing because I am unaware of allergies and other medical conditions if I am only there for one day. I have only given it out during day-to-day subbing if the regular teacher left it for me to do. I'm not really concerned about the childhood obesity part of it. I don't think one small piece of candy would cause a child to be obese. I don't use it during day-to-day subbing because of food allergies and medical conditions. During my long-term, I was informed of those. After my LTS however, I don't think I will ever give out candy again. It's just easier to be on the extra safe side.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Point one, same here! Once I had candy in a bubblegum machine and shared some with my homeroom one afternoon. The next day the students looked at the jar with big eyes and exclaimed that I must have given a lot of candy to the classes after them. Um, actually...I didn't give any more away. I didn't realize it until they said something, but I must have turned that little dial more than I thought when working on things after school. I never refilled it after that!

    Point two is an excellent one. Food is huge where I work! Even my principal told me the day he met and hired me that I better enjoy food. :haha:
     
  7. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Some teachers in my school offer lemon drops for participation in discussions, or for being especially helpful. My daughter's teacher does the latter and one day a student was joyfully, animatedly enjoying a lemon drop. The others said, "Hey, when did you get that lemon drop?" He said, "My mom bought me a bag to keep in my backpack so I can enjoy one ANYTIME I want." Smug smile.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think that's hysterical!:lol:
     
  9. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I know you are probably talking about regular education classes but we are allowed to give candy as long as there are no dietary restrictions. This might not be a problem in a regular education setting, but in special ed (especially students with autism or other disabilities) it is difficult to find out what will be a positive reinforcer. Sometimes the only thing that will get them to math or even stay in their seat is an M&M or Skittle. We ask them what they would like to work for. They pick something and then they get it if they comply with our requests. Unfortunately, have no idea what a sticker is. Eventually we try to lead them away from food as a reward and let them earn things like computer time or a favorite book or toy.
     
  10. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Oh, don't get me started! :mad: I can't understand what the big deal is! I would love to be able to use candy every great once in a while as part of my lesson (or even food in general). I hate that we can't use food in any form. It's ridiculous to think the best way to teach a child to make good choices is to not offer them any! Ugh. I have had to be the food police for 4 years now and it stinks! My guilty pleasure is giving out Frosty coupons for Halloween!!

    I feel bad for the child whose parent posted that he gets upset about not being able to have candy, but I think it's just one of those things where he needs to realize is part of life for him. Some kids can't have peanut butter. Some kids can't have wheat or eggs. Some kids don't celebrate Christmas. Does that mean we take things away from everybody? Personally, if I were able to give out candy and I had a child in my class that was diabetic, I would make a treasure box with candy AND smelly stickers or other options. But, alas, I must smile and pretend it's ok as I pass out the half-frozen foil covered grape juices and baked Lay's at our next "party." And I must continue to remove suckers from Valentines and peer through the clear plastic "treat" bags sent by parents to make sure there is nothing fatally sweet...
     
  11. tek_war505

    tek_war505 Rookie

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    It looks like food rules differ a great deal from state to state. Where I am at candy is used frequently by teachers as a reward, it is extremely common to see it used as a reward in special needs classrooms.

    Even in the research I have done for classes I have read a great deal of evidence in research studies showing how tangible rewards like candy are very effective to use with special needs students, especially at first. Particularly students with Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder. It is particularly effective with students who have low cognative ability and can't grasp the concept of rewards they have to wait for to recieve.

    We were taught to first introduce reinforcement of good behavior by first using a tangible reward like candy (gold fish works too) and to combine it with an intangible reward such as praise & a token system. Slowly over time the tangible reward is removed so eventually your only reinforcing the student with an intangible reward such as praise & a token system.

    We were taught a behavorist approach to teaching students with special needs. In our teaching program we had a lot of psychology and educational psychology incorporated into our training, particularly behavioral psychology. I have worked mainly with younger kids and those who were more cognatively impaired with IQ's in the range of below 69 to as high as 80.

    Every special needs classroom I have subbed for in my state made use of candy and treats to reinforce behavior. I know parents hate the idea of their kid getting candy in school, but with some kids nothing works better at reinforcing positive behavior then the sugar.

    I know people these days think candy is such an evil thing in school, but if the kid doesn't eat candy in school they will eat it when they get home. As a kid we always got rewarded with treats in school and it didn't effect my diet much. A few MM's once in a while or a jolly ranger didn't add that much calories to my diet and didn't spoil my lunch. I ate more candy at home, but I ate reasonably healthy. I wrestled, did cross country, played football, skateboarded, participated in high school powerlifting competitions, and the highest my bodyfat % got when I wasn't in wrestling season was 8.5%; it was at %6 during wrestling season. I could run the mile in gym class in about 5 and 1/2 minutes. The small candy rewards I got for good behavior didn't seem to have much of a negative effect on my health in school. My physicals were always excellent; great blood sugar, heart-rate, lungs, healthy cholestrol level, healthy body weight, low body fat.
     
  12. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Dec 13, 2011

    My kids and I sat around our pretend fireplace yesterday and ate mini candy canes. Everyone is alive and well!
     
  13. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Actually I'm a big proponent of suggesting exactly that. Nothing says we HAVE to give these things to kids. It has nothing to do with the curriculum or our job or even their learning. Kids won't even know the difference if you don't give them these things. It will, however, cause the excluded kid to feel potentially hurt by an adult who is supposed to care about him/her and it could be harmful to the child.

    Most of the time it is the ADULT that misses these things because we become culturally ingrained by our memories. In reality, there are suitable alternatives that pleases the children no less, especially when they aren't presented with knowing that there are alternate choices than what they were given.

    Edit to Add: I'm not picking on you specifically. I just didn't read every post here yet and this one is a perspective I've seen other times over the years and even in other recent threads. It most said what I wanted to respond to thus the reason I "quoted" it.
     
  14. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Almost as long as I've been working in the schools (since 1999), I've just about seen candy pretty much all that time. I personally won't do it unless maybe it's Christmas, Halloween or Valentine's Day & even then, I may not do it & if so, I give it in a goody bag on their way out of my room. So far, I've given those gummy fruit snacks during the only occasion since I've had my new job.
     
  15. isabunny

    isabunny Comrade

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    I do think that candy can sometimes be a good teaching tool. When teaching preschool I would use candy for sorting, counting, and color recognition. Once a week I, usually on Friday, when we were working on these skills, I would use M & M's or Jelly Beans, ect.... Of course the students would only receive a very small amount and when the activity was over, they could eat the treats. Of course we would use other items for sorting and counting. It is just nice to be able to use all the tools that we can as teachers. Different classes call for different measures. Variety is the spice of life and moderation is key! I think it should be the teacher who decides whether they will give treats or not as part of their classroom environment. I really think all the laws, rules and regulations that are given to teachers now inhibit the learning process. There were so many regulations in preschool that I felt like learning was taking a backseat. Some regulations seem to be written by people who have never been around children before.

    The school lunch programs are horrendous! For school districts to tell teachers that the snacks, minimal amounts of candy and birthday cupcakes are what are making the kids obese is a joke. All the processed, canned, and preservative filled food that is being served for school lunches is a major problem. The lunch program can use a major overhaul. As a health food nut, I wouldn't even call the items that are served food!

    As for the kids that have special eating requirements, I also have a child that has special dietary requirements. There are things he just can't eat and it is disappointing for him. When I know there is a special event at school, I make sure to provide a dish that I know he likes and can eat. The worse is Halloween. He can't eat a bunch of preservatives so we have to give away most of his candy. I just think that when you have a limitation, you learn to make the best of what you have and go on with life. I wouldn't want other kids not to be able to have the treats just because my son can't and he wouldn't want his friends to miss out either.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Does anyone remember Beverly Cleary's character Ellen Tebbitts? Ellen desperately wants to get to clean the blackboard erasers (which, back in the day, involved beating them together or banging them on the school's brick walls to release the chalk dust: a messy job) because, when the teacher chooses a kid to do that job at the end of school every day, it's always the kid who's been really, really good. Ellen never gets called on, however, and because it's clear that the teacher doesn't dislike her, Ellen - who's a meticulous, tidy child - is left to conclude that she's just somehow never good enough. It turns out, however, that the teacher figured that the job was too dirty to interest a neatnik like Ellen. The book's happy ending has Ellen and her best friend gleefully raising clouds and clouds of chalk dust.

    It strikes me that, where candy and sweets are the currency of being good, we're putting kids who can't have those things in an untenable position. On the one hand, if the kid is denied the candy or the ice cream party for his own safety, this still sends a very strong and public message to the kid and everyone else that he didn't actually earn the reward even if he did. On the other hand, if the kid gets the candy or the ice cream party that he earned, he must either risk illness or death in order to participate fully or he must exercise a level of self-control and wisdom that we know better than to expect from most adults - and he's still (and fairly publicly) unable to participate fully.

    It's more than slightly like having to choose between being singled out to be denied the paycheck that you've earned or being given the paycheck with your peers, but on the publicly stated condition that you alone not cash yours.
     
  17. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Personally I think it's fine to use candy in certain situations - some kids have needs so far beyond reducing the amount of sugar, that if a little sugar is the fastest way to improving behavior, social skills, or some sort of other crucial area of functioning, I'd chose it. However, I do agree with others - if there's something equally as good to use - i.e., as reinforcing - then sure, why not use the equally effective yet less harmful approach.

    Candy tends to be particularly useful because it's immediately reinforcing (not a token), can be given out in small increments yet still enjoyed in each of those increments, is easy to carry by the teacher/staff member, is cost efficient, easy to administer, etc. I've worked with kids before who are simply failing at life globally, and who go home to incredibly poor diets all around - reducing sugar intake isn't on the top of the list of things that need to be fixed. Not saying it isn't important, but sometimes doesn't come out as the top priority. I can see how it would be different in a general education setting.

    In terms of kids with dietary restrictions or disabilities prohibiting candy, I think that they're going to have to learn to function and be happy in the world despite their limitations. For example, with a child in a wheelchair, we don't remove all activities that involve walking or running in a school simply because one child or a few children can't participate. If a child has a medical condition where sunlight exposure is dangerous, we don't make all kids stay inside for recess or wear protective clothing. I think sometimes as educators, because we care about kids and don't like seeing negative emotions, we do everything we can to prevent a child from experiencing something unpleasant (at least if it's not directly a result of a choice they made). I'm not sure that's realistic, nor a good way to raise children. The simple reality is that kids in wheelchairs (permanently) may never be able to run, but rather than canceling running as an activity because we don't want the kid in the wheelchair to feel bad, shouldn't we teach the kid in the wheelchair other ways of participating, and teach the other kids strategies of inclusion?

    To be sure, this last point is different than the argument that there are more positive alternatives to candy, or that candy is all around unhealthy - both of those have their own arguments for and against. The disability question is a different one, though.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    "In certain situations" is crucial here, however: announcing a celebration party as "an ice cream party", in a classroom with a kid with diabetes, is more or less the equivalent of announcing to the kid in the wheelchair that the party will be held upstairs in a building that doesn't have an elevator.

    I didn't say "never give candy". Kids aren't stupid: if the teacher is regularly rewarding Ignatz with candy and it's clear that Ignatz is, um, not a top performer, mm's kid with diabetes can probably make his peace with that. (I knew a class of kindergartners with a very good, very even-handed teacher and the kids all knew which little boy misbehaved despite his very valiant attempts not to and which little boy misbehaved because he chose to.) And if the teacher's as likely to give out stickers or stamps for rewards as he is to give out candy, then, sure, mm's kid needs to learn to live with it when candy is present, and he probably will; and if the spelling-bee-winners party includes ice cream alongside things that the kid with diabetes can eat (and, preferably, share), then the kid with diabetes needs to learn to what he can and can't choose. But he's not going to learn that by being barred from a party because it didn't occur to anyone to ensure that there'd be a suitable alternative treat for him.

    The point here is that we do well to be aware of the pattern as a whole.
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I think there are so many wonderful alternatives to candy that promote the same thing we are trying to achieve. I could easily do without candy in my teaching and survive with happy productive children--even in kindergarten and on holidays.
     
  20. Zabeth

    Zabeth Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2011

    Hear, hear!
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Part of inclusion for me goes both ways. Sometimes there are times when society has to do something to support the person with disabilities. That's called compassion. (Sometimes it is called the law). It doubles if you care about the person involved. Example? My friends will literally have the stereo off or so low it is below my audible level when there is a party or social event at their house, even when other friends of theirs are invited. Why? They know that due to my hearing loss, it is constant mixed unintelligible noise that bothers me. Do I sometimes have to deal with this? Sure! If we go to a bar or public place that has it, then it becomes my responsibility to learn to deal with it. There is a time and place for everything. Do my friends have to do this? No, but it is compassionate of them to do so. There are times, however, when the law requires one to act and often I find those without that understanding and compassion are the ones I have to take up harder avenues (even legal routes) to enforce the support.

    When it is appropriate to teach those inclusion strategies, then do so. But sometimes that mindset is over used. Teaching goes more than one direction for more than just the kid with the disability. Kids actually benefit far more from compassion lessons than they do from most of the items we are trying to maintain they must have.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that those kids with allergies or other dietary restrictions are probably doing a lot of "learning to live with it." They learn that lesson every single time there's a birthday party, every single time there's a holiday, every single time there's a celebration.

    Ever taste sugar free chocolate?? It's not particulary good. And you can't eat too much of it without risk of stomach issues. Yum, yum.

    And the thing is, most of those kids seem to learn the same lessons as their classmates,minus the candy. How is is that those kids, who are denied candy, manage to learn those lessons that the teacher needed candy to teach the other kids???

    I agree completely with Cut. I don't think it's compassionate to tell a kid, in effect, to suck it up and not have a treat his classmates are having.

    Yes, sometimes we're dealt an unfair hand by life, and there are limitations placed on us that aren't placed on others. But when those people entrusted with our care CHOOSE to exclude us, to make us aware once again that we're different, that we're limited in ways our peers aren't-- well, that doesn't seem particularly compassionate or professional to me.
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Dec 13, 2011

    YES!
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Precisely, Alice.
     
  25. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    There are obviously a wide variety of opinions here. This is why I believe in the idea of "to each his/her own". As a teacher it is your classroom, you make the rules, you run it. You need to be okay with what is implemented in your classroom. Not every classroom will be the same in this regard, but I think that is okay. As a teacher, you need to make those choices.
    In regards to this issue, if you feel okay with using candy on occasion, use it, if not, then don't. I would say as long as it is not used to an unhealthy degree, it is your choice. As for those who can and can have any of what you are doing in the classroom; how you handle that as a teacher is your choice as well.
    That is my 2 cents on the issue. I would not expect every teacher/classroom to make the same decisions on issues like this.
     
  26. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 13, 2011

    :thumb::agreed:
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    TeacherGroupie, good points on the last page about it depending on the situation. I can situations where it would be extremely uncompassionate and unprofessional to not modify based on a disability, and also situations where it wouldn't make sense to make a modification.

    Like it or not - and compassionate or not - classrooms can't always be modified for the disabilities, preferences, and learning styles of all students all the time. I'm reminded of the thread a while back about peanut butter being banned from all students' lunches because of the allergy of one student. Not sure where I stand on it, but my point is this: there is a line beyond which it may not make sense to modify. I can see everyone's points on how - in the situation of a general education classroom with a child with diabetes who can't eat candy, and where there is an equally effective alternative reward - candy is not chosen as the reward.

    Alice, good points about compassion regarding modifications made when someone in a particular community becomes aware of a disability. In your opinion, is there are line of efficiency/efficacy you would draw regarding the impact of such a modification on the rest of the class? I understand the selection of an equal alternative, but is there a point where the modified alternative becomes so less effective or efficient that it becomes not worth the cost, such as lost opportunities for other kids? Obviously, in this case, loss of candy doesn't represent a significant loss to a general education classroom with plenty of alternatives. Could you envision a situation, though, where you might not make such a modification?

    One particularly interesting comment to me was made by cutNglue on the first post of this page - that sometimes particular mindsets are overused. To me, I took this to mean that sometimes values and beliefs we have sometimes translate into bad results because we overly adhere to, or overgeneralize, certain thoughts, beliefs, or principles when they might not apply. Sometimes, we feel good about a decision because it is in line with a value we have, but it leads to bad results. For example, a teacher may hypothetically not believe in ANY form of reinforcement because s/he doesn't want to limit or reduce intrinsic reinforcement for good behavior or academic performance. While that belief may sound good to some, and may be based in good will, it may lead to making poor instructional choices.

    In this situation, I could see implications of this overadherence to values/beliefs on both sides of the fence. I could see someone saying, "He just needs to learn that he'll be different" when a simple modification might really be the right choice. I could also see a teacher saying, "Candy is bad so we aren't going to use it with this child" in a situation where the use of candy might significantly promote social/behavioral growth because of the child's significant preference for candy as a reinforcer.

    I think the reason I jumped into this thread is because of this "overadherence tendency," and I could see what - to me - seemed like indications of people leaning on a value (e.g., "candy is wrong") that might not always be applicable.
     
  28. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Dec 13, 2011

    Good point Ed. Over use can be found on all sides of all topics.

    For the record, I HAVE had food and candy in my room. It's just that I've changed my mindset on how it is provided through experiences and discussions along the way. The longer I reflect on it (over the last few years) the more I realize it isn't a necessary component to their education and may even be a barrier.

    As for there being a time when things can't be modified, I'll give a perfect example. If a deaf child needs to learn reading via other ways besides phonics, that doesn't mean that the rest of the class shouldn't learn phonics. Their lessons still must stand. An alternative assignment must be given to the deaf child in this classroom. THAT is an example of where something would not be worth the cost of having something that all children can access as a whole group. Likewise there are also times when extra tools are needed to access the same lesson, such as a communication board. But when you CAN modify something so a student is truly included, then the caring thing to do would be to choose that alternative.

    This strays from the original topic of giving candy as a reward. There is a difference between a reward and a treat. I don't do it as a reward. I have given them as a treat or part of an educational activity. But like I said, my mindset is changing even in that area.

    As for the peanut butter topic... I know exactly where I stand on that. I'm always going to support the side that protects the child.
     
  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2011

    I'm with you - I think we're in agreement...
     
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