FEATURES  FOR   TEACHERS

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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 5, Issue 6

March 2009

StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers New Teacher's Niche Tech Center  
 

Happy New Year, and welcome back
to our StarTeaching newsletter, 
Features for Teachers, packed full of tips, techniques, and ideas for educators of all students in all levels.   

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SQ3R Sheet
Check out our NEW FREE online resources, including the SQ3R sheet for reading 
and the Paragraph Graphic Organizer for writing.  These are forms you can fill in online and print, or have your students fill them in and print them for class!

Paragraph Organizer

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Decision-Making: A Continuous Process in Teaching

By: YASMEEN JUMANI

Yasmeen Jumani has been a teacher Educator for the past 11 years.  She has done her Masters in Islamic History from the University of Karachi.  She has a Master in Education from Hamdard University, Institute of Education and Social Sciences, A VT certificate from AKU-IED along with an advance diploma in (PTEP) Professional Teacher Education Program from IIS and AKU- IED. 

Teaching is a very conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse learners at the same time. Though it seems pleasant to deal with such a different group of learners, it requires a quick decision-making ability of teachers who deal with a lot of difficulties and complexities that emerge during the interactions of lessons.   Another aspect for an effective lesson is planning.

It is very difficult to define and describe the characteristics of good teaching.  In short, a lot of qualifications, credentials, experiences and efforts are required for a good and effective teacher. The foremost quality of a teacher is the command on the delivery part of a lesson - how s/he integrates content knowledge with pedagogical skills.  That is only possible if a teacher has the power of decision making (the how and into which quantity s/he has to deliver the lesson.) 

WHY:

Decision-making is a very careful step that helps the facilitator to take selective actions in the light of sense hypothesis. It seems unhealthy to pour out all that information and content material into a student’s mind, but we need to make sure that to what extent it can be appropriate for the learner’s  needs and  the requirement of that learning content. Sometimes it seems that our decisions are not suitable in the long run, although it’s fulfilling/catering the needs of present time. That is why teaching is recognized as a reflective and thinking based journey rather than a monotonous way of delivering information. It assists the decision-maker to take action with thorough reflections on how children learn and what would be the desired outcomes.

Teachers often complain that we would not be able to complete our task in the given time due to the abrupt discussion/s or some new arising questions. What I personally believe, it’s again an opportunity for teachers to think that sometimes it is good to proceed as per the original plan, but being a responsible person, it sounds intelligent to be flexible in one's planning and accommodating his/her selves as per the need and desire of the time and context.  

The major responsibility of a teacher is not to just complete the syllabus but also to make sure that learners produce meaningful outcomes while simultaneously their personalities are groomed with appropriate attitudes and skills. That is why the aim of education always leads towards holistic development of a child and all depends on the willingness of a teacher whose decision plays ‘the vital role’ in the children’s grooming.

HOW:

As we often heard an old saying, “I am because I am thinking”, this same theory applies while making a decision because it requires on-going reflection. An intelligent decision needs a lot of deep, critical and analytical thinking because if outcomes are expected with deliberate optimism, then it is necessary for an individual to challenge, analyze its own idea, practice, see the alternatives, and choose the best one. For example, a teacher plans a lesson for 2 days and delivers this in class. Hence this would be called an ordinary teacher.  But a reflective teacher will be in the process of constantly thinking, "how would I  enable  my  students  to learn the conceptual understanding  with more clarity?  How could I introduce my  students to some new strategies  through which they could learn more in the most effective manner?" It is also important for the teacher to pick up any new ideas / information with careful analysis and deliver it to the learners while asking, "does that make sense to them?"  Therefore, it is also important to collect feedback from students and then plan as per their needs.

The child is a natural investigator, if our instructions provide him a LEAD; we would be able to see the enhancement in the cognitive and behavioral developments both. Nonetheless, it is not that easy but our instructions should link with the child’s previous knowledge and the existing experiences so it would be called meaningful learning.

Multiple impediments that affect decisions

Dean Chesham said, “Let me give so much time to improvement of myself that I shall have not time to criticize other”

Best Brains are those that are always in the process of rethinking to construct new knowledge. I think teachers have the same role in producing something new but in the process of the production of something new, they face some hurdles and barriers and those hindrances often affect their performance and make them slow as well. Therefore "to make a difference” one has to sacrifice and brings out positive changes.

Here are some impediments that affects effective decision:

  1. Teachers have lack of freedom to take action on the behalf of the class.
  2. Some influential parents do not allow teachers to depict any conclusion from all the students.
  3. Previous teacher’s decision has long-lasting repercussions and effects.  Hence the new class teacher feels uncomfortable in the beginning to adjust with students and of course his/.her uncertainty is also apparent with his/her personality.
  4. Some experienced teachers have high expectations about  the newly enrolled students which also may create an unhealthy atmosphere for children to fulfill their demands
  5. Time factor is also one  of  the major obstacles, because the teacher's job is not only to deliver  the lesson, but he/she would have to see the other administration matter to run the class successfully apart  from academic activity.
  6. Sometimes school policies don’t harmonize with teacher’s perception level to draw some type of conclusion.
  7. Different vertical hierarchy could easily be figured out in any school system but how to delegate powers to subordinates are the missing elements. 
  8. If the internal physical environment of any classroom is seen as a ‘Conducive learning environment’ then may be difficulty for teachers to bring innovation.
  9. Often teachers make decisions on her/his behalf while bringing up any new idea or theory; they do not see any coordination with student’s previous learning and existing knowledge. Therefore, in the end, they find an unpredicted result. 
  10. Often times, a teacher’s benchmarks are brilliant students; therefore slow learners cannot mingle up with classroom learning neglected
  11. Often classroom seating imposes issues for teachers whether they have to instruct to the whole class or a particular group or else an individual
  12. If teacher collects students' feedback along with self-reflection, the problem of subject matter concepts could be overcome.
  13. Some influential students also undermine teachers and create an uncertain and unpredictable environment, for which the rest of the students suffer because the teacher tries to satisfy those who have a highly sound financial background.
  14. How much teacher engagement with students in class, and to whom he / she entertain and how many students are been neglecting from teachers.
  15. Classroom is considered a laboratory where numbers of experiences take place.  However every experience comes up with the multiple consequences so many times it seems difficult to manage different behaviors at one time
  16. If we have ever noticed that while watching T.V how much we can we remember about the advertisements?  In the same manner, the teachers encounters with several behaviors. Therefore, it is difficult to make any decision in the light of different experience because not all experiences are recording as a diverse way of learning.
  17. Insecurity increases among students because at one time how teachers make sure about the balanced approach while dealing with different individuals.

Some Suggestions to overcome the impediments while decision making

Whatever have been shared in the light of general observation, it is difficult to find out the solution for all of the impediments because it does vary from context to context.  A smart teacher carefully handles the problem keeping in mind the diversity and sensitivity as well.

 

 

  FROM THE ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICE:

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The “How” – From Crafting a School’s Mission to Making it a Reality

By: Caitlin Franco

Caitlin Franco is a New York State Certified Teacher with a Masters Degree in Education Policy from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Stony Brook University . She is the co-founder of Equality Charter School in Bronx , New York and has worked as an English teacher in 6th-12th grade classrooms, testing coordinator, and coordinator of data and assessment in both charter and traditional public schools.

When researching mission statements of NYC charter schools, the most common phrases I have come across are: college bound, high quality, high expectations, and academic rigor. Just because the words are in the mission does not mean that they are the reality of the school.

As my colleagues and I worked to craft our mission statement, we discussed our vision of the school. We agreed that the quality of a child’s education is too often defined by the neighborhood in which they live.  Compounding this problem, there is a belief adopted by many that factors such as poverty preclude high student achievement. We rejected this belief; while research suggests that these factors may be barriers, they can be overcome with high-quality, research-based educational programming.

But how do you craft this vision into a mission statement? Creating the mission statement for Equality Charter School took months, much longer than was first anticipated. During our discussions, we knew that we were all on the same page. But as we tried to get our ideas on paper, we found that everything we wrote did not clearly capture our hopes or articulate our feelings. We agonized over several aspects of the mission: the overall emotions that it elicited from us, the one sentence that did not “fit” smoothly and had to be re-read several times, to our distress over one word that did not sound quite right.

In the end, we decided that our mission would be as follows: Equality Charter School provides a high level of academic rigor in a nurturing learning community that will prepare students to be successful in college. We realize high expectations for staff and students by focusing on the integration of goal setting, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As our students move through this progression, they will develop into Equality men and women: high school graduates prepared for educated, productive lives.

But how can a school really make this happen? As so many other schools had placed similar words in their mission statements but failed to follow through with them, how would Equality actually make their mission a reality?

The “how” to make this happen would be:

·        providing a seamless seven year, 6th-12th grade education that closes the educational gap in middle school, reinforcing the foundation for rigorous college preparatory academics in high school;

·        impelling students’ high academic achievement through a standards-based curriculum;

·        nurturing a safe, positive, and proactive learning environment, both academically and socio-emotionally, for students, staff, and parents;

·        creating high parental and community involvement and satisfaction;

·        empowering students to have a voice and impact on school and community culture;

·        assisting students in developing and carrying out their life action plans which will include a post-secondary plan; and,

·        preparing students with the skills and knowledge essential for them to successfully be admitted to and graduate from college.    

 

Information about Equality Charter School can be found at  http://test.equalitycharterschool.org/flash.html and Caitlin can be contacted personally at caitlin.franco@equalitycharterschool.org ecslogo

 

READER RESPONSE

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Ask Dr. Manute

Dr. Manute is a well-renowned world traveler, guest speaker, and educational consultant.  

Dr. Manute holds multiple degrees in several educational fields. He has taught in both stateside and international school communities.  He has extensive experience (25 years) in school administration.  He also has worked at the university level, supervising teacher interns and teaching undergraduate courses.

As part of our Reader Response selection (asked for by our subscribers), we are pleased to have Dr. Manute answer questions from our readers.  

 
 You can  contact Dr. Manute through the form at the end of this article.  Thanks!

I recently received a question regarding reading:

Dear Dr. Manute:

I am a teacher in Penang teaching English in a Government school.  The pupils are 11 years old and some of them cannot read or spell correctly.  How can I help them?

- Lisa, Penang

Dr. Manute's response:

Well, not knowing more of the details, I could make an assumption that English is a second language.  After more thought, that may not be the case as your question could be relevant in any school home or abroad. 

Let’s look at options.  First of all, what resources are available in your school?  Is there an established Reading curriculum and a Reading specialist?  If your answer is yes, then that is the place to start -  if not let’s move to plan B.

I would recommend you go to an educational site on the internet, such as ERIC and look for strategies for teaching Reading .  There are probably hundreds of options available utilizing different philosophies and approaches. 

You didn’t say how many students you have in your room.  Smaller classes certainly make it easier to individualize instruction.  I encourage you to do exactly that, determine where each student is at and design a program that meets his or her individual needs.  This could be an enormous task, but I believe you are up to it - otherwise you wouldn’t have written :)  Select specific strategies, engage the students in creative, interesting and challenging activities and measure their progress each step of the way.  Celebrate their success no matter how small and encourage them with intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.  I think you will be amazed at their progress.

This endeavor will also provide an enormous amount of satisfaction to you as a professional.

Good luck and good teaching!

Dr. Manute

 

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  School Features

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e-Assessment
(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

In its broadest sense, e-assessment is the use of information technology for any assessment-related activity. This definition embraces a wide range of student activity ranging from the use of a word processor to on-screen testing. Due to its obvious similarity to e-learning, the term e-assessment is becoming widely used as a generic term to describe the use of computers within the assessment process.

E-assessment can be used to assess cognitive and practical abilities. Cognitive abilities are assessed using e-testing software; practical abilities are assessed using e-portfolios or simulation software.

An e-testing system comprises two components:

(1) an assessment engine; and

(2) an item bank.

An assessment engine comprises the hardware and software required to create and deliver a test. Most e-testing engines run on standard hardware so the key characteristic is the software's functionality. There is a wide range of software packages. The software does not include the questions themselves; these are provided by an item bank. Once created, the engine uses the item bank to generate a test.

The creation of the item bank is more costly and time consuming than the installation and configuration of the assessment engine. There is currently no business model to support the creation of high quality item banks. Issues such as copyright and intellectual property rights remain unresolved.

E-assessment is becoming widely used. It has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment.

The advantages include:

1. lower long-term costs

2. instant feedback to students

3. greater flexibility with respect to location and timing

4. improved reliability (machine marking is much more reliable than human marking).

There are also disadvantages. E-assessment systems are expensive to establish and not suitable for every type of assessment (such as extended response questions). The main expense is not technical; it is the cost of producing high quality assessment items.

 

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com

K12Academics.com

 

Check out our selection of past articles, including more about groups and stations, from previous issues at:

http://www.starteaching.com/newsletter.htm


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The Dogman, a creature of MythMichigan, is an excellent example of modern-day folklore to study in your classes.   

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The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  

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Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Strategy

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultant

Many teachers have used the SQ3R reading strategy successfully for years. For new teachers, this can have a positive impact on whatever class, grade, or subject you are teaching. Reading is a vital skill in every class and every subject area, and a strategy to improve students' reading while working on specific class material is extremely beneficial.

SQ3R is an instructional strategy for improving reading comprehension.  It is an acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Each of these activities focuses on a technique integral to the reading process. The uses in the language arts seem rather obvious, but SQ3R is great for other areas too. This can be used in social studies classes when reading through a new section of the textbook. Science teachers use it to kick off new units and in new labs. Math teachers can even use it to teach students to take notes from their books.  Possibilities are endless.

Like any other technique, you will want to teach this carefully to your students and discuss each part together in class. While there are many ways of interpreting and using the SQ3R strategy, in this article I'll be sharing how we use it in our classroom.

'Survey' refers to skimming the reading quickly. Students look for items that catch their eyes - titles, headlines, photos, pictures, graphs, bold-faced or italicized words. Sometimes I refer to them as 'sticky words' since the reader's eyes tend to stick to them. After the quick scan, students write down the first six items their eyes 'catch' upon. Just a word or short phrase is fine, as we want to keep this part short and sweet.

'Question' is the part where students make predictions and pose questions about what they've surveyed. We have students create and write down three questions in complete sentences based on what they surveyed.

Complete sentences requires students to think carefully about the info they skimmed, and put it into a logical organized form. Early on, students may pose rather simple questions. We do not allow easy yes/no questions, those with one word answers, or questions they already know the answers to. We even spend class time discussing what makes 'good' questions.

Once the pre-reading is finished, the 'Read' part is just that - the students now read carefully through the section, paying attention to everything on the page. It's important to find the answers to their questions. We have the students then answer their posed questions in complete sentences. Sometimes students may have posed questions that are unanswerable or not found in the reading. We do allow students to state that the answer was not found in the reading. That's ok, as long as they don't make a habit of it. If such a habit does form, simply require students to state where they could find the answer.

'Recite' refers to putting the data from the reading into a new use.  We often create short freewrites to discuss the implications of the reading, or its applications. You can also create writing topics for students to respond to.

'Review' is, again, self-explanatory, as students review the material.  We have students create quiz questions based on the reading, just as if they were the teacher. However, they are not allowed to use their questions posed previously! Students can create ten multiple choice or true/false questions. Sometimes we assign creating fill-in-the banks statements, or even have students make their own essay questions or writing topics. You could even have them create crosswords or other word puzzles.

To make the SQ3R technique easy to do and grade, we've created a form that is used through our school. It is specific enough to cover all of the areas, and yet general enough to allow individual teachers to adapt and customize this strategy to their class, students, or current assignments.

You can download a free copy of our SQ3R worksheet on our website by clicking the link below:
http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

The SQ3R technique is easy to use and adapt yourself, once you and your students are comfortable with its components. We've used it as a warm-up activity, as a closing activity, and as a sponge. It is also useful when you need easy-to-follow plans for a substitute. Most importantly, this is a powerful, yet simple, tool you can use in any class to improve students' reading skills.


Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To-Be plan. Simply click the following link:
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Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

 

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

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Defining Literacy

By: ROZINA JUMANI

Rozina Jumani is a Development consultant associated with a number of Non governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters in Education Planning, Economic and International Development from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

The definition of literacy is context specific. The parameters of literacy may vary from one geographical region to another and from one era to another. It can be as simple as just recognition of the alphabets, or signing of one’s own name, or may be broader in order to include the handling of equipment by studying manuals. Literacy has multiple meanings ranging from the simple ability to read and write, to interpreting and implementing ideas, knowledge and skills that a person may have required.

Some definitions of literacy focus on perception and decoding. For example, Spache (1964: 2) described literacy as “a series of word perceptions i.e. reading only”. Kaestle (1985: 34), described literacy as “the ability to decode and comprehend language at a rudimentary level, that is the ability to look at written words corresponding to ordinary oral discourse, to say them, and to understand them.”

These two definitions emphasize the aspect of skills to read the printed symbols and to map these symbols into the understanding of oral language.

It is observed that initially, the definition of literacy was confined to the acquisition of the basic skills of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic). Over a period of time, basic literacy was upgraded to functional literacy, expanding further into knowing to do things by using insight.  This transformation of literacy is, in fact, associated with its importance for the society as a whole, and to enable a person to effectively participate in the life

Though defining literacy is a very complex notion, it is important to deliberate upon it since the definition has far-reaching implications.  Some experts have emphasized cognitive processes in describing literacy, some more generally and others more specifically. For example, Goodman (1976: 51) suggested that “reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game”.  Venezky (1991:22) states, it is “a cognitive skill.” Calfee and Nelson-Barber (1991:13) describe it as “the capacity to employ language as a tool for oral communication.”

These definitions are consistent with teaching reading and writing as a cognitive process that involves the processing of information through such strategies as activating background knowledge, encouraging readers to make predictions, or writers to organize their ideas into categories.  

The below cited definitions from different countries indicate that despite the broadening of the description of literacy in literature, the working definition of literacy, as adopted by different countries has remained fairly simple at the skill level.

S#

Country

Definition

1.

Bangladesh

Ability to read and write in any language

2.

Canada

In Canada 9th grade pass is considered as literate and according to this definition illiterates are only 1 % in that country.

3

India

Literate is defined as the one who can read with accuracy at a speed of approximately 40 words per minute and write or copy at a speed of 10 words per minute and take dictation at the speed of not less than 7 words per minute in any language.

4

Indonesia

A person is considered as literate who can recognize alphabets, read simple words, signs his / her name (eligibility for voting) able to read and understand a letter, or able to read certain part of certain magazine or of a certain newspaper.

5

Nepal

Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write in any language, a short statement on every day life of 06 years and above persons

6

Vietnam

The definition of literacy consists of three components viz-a viz.

1.      Reading and writing the printed materials without spelling each word.

2.      Writing 80 words in 45 minutes without making too many mistakes.

3.      Reading four digit numbers and write legibly the first ten numbers.

According to UNRSCO (2002), It is currently estimated that about twenty percent of world's population aged fifteen and above is illiterate and that about 115.4 million school-age children are not in school.

 

 


 

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

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"Two Brothers" 

Author unknown

Themes on Life

What do we build in our lives?

Once upon a time two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a conflict. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's tool box. "I'm looking for a few days' work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?" "Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you."

"Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor; in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better."

"See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence --an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge -- a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all -- and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. "You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done." The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand.

They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, but I have many more bridges to build.

Food for Thought:
Do you have any bridges
that you need to build?

 

 


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Decision-Making; A Continuous Process in Teaching

The Administrator's Office:
The 'How' - From Crafting A School's Mission to Making it a Reality

Ask Dr. Manute: Reading

Defining Literacy

School Features: e-Assessment (part 1)

New Teacher's Niche:
Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Strategy

Themes on Life:  
"Two Brothers"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club:
Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading And What You Can Do About It


 

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Day 1 How many minutes is 1
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Day 2
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Day 3
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Day 4 Marie worked on the
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