GRO: The Must-Have App For Teaching Guided Reading - Learning at the Primary Pond

GRO: The Must-Have App For Teaching Guided Reading

When Amanda Duke told her husband about a strategy she’d learned for taking guided reading notes, he was shocked.

Take notes on sticky notes and then attach them to sheets of paper? It didn’t sound practical or professional to him.

And Amanda agreed. As a Kindergarten and first grade teacher, she’s always loved teaching guided reading. Amanda sees the incredible power of working with kids in a small group setting.

But she’s always struggled to find practical solutions to guided reading organizational challenges (so have I!). She wanted an easy way to switch up her groups, keep and reuse lesson plans, and take notes on her students.

When Amanda went looking for technology that would do this, she didn’t find any apps that quite fit the bill. Sure, there’s Evernote and other great organizational apps. But none of them were designed just for teachers.

So Amanda set out to make her own app. She drew up some plans and talked with other teachers to get their input. She and her husband worked with local developers to create a model, and they continued to revise that model based upon input from other teachers.

And that’s how Guided Reading Organizer (GRO) was born!

When Amanda shared her story with me, I was so impressed with how much time and thought she (and other teachers) have put into this project. But what’s even more impressive is how awesome and practical this app is!

In this post, I’ll show you how you can use the app in your own classroom to make planning for guided reading faster, more efficient, and more effective. I’ll also show you how to use the app to easily take notes and keep data on your students’ progress.

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

Before we dive in, I do want to mention that guided reading isn’t the only thing you can use this app for – it works great for small group math lessons or any other type of small group instruction.

Groups

The first thing you see when you open up the app is your groups. You can use different colors and group names to keep them all straight. I love that you can put in the kids’ photos to see your class at a quick glance!

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

Tapping on one of the groups allows you to name it, add a color, set the meeting days and meeting times, add a level, and write notes (like a group focus).

This is so handy because we have so many different groups to keep track of. If a student teacher or other support teacher comes to work with one of the groups, you can easily send them a screenshot like the one below.

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

Calendar

Next up is the calendar tab!

The calendar feature is a dream come true if you are as scatterbrained as me. 🙂 I can never remember which groups I’m supposed to see on a given day.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the groups you have scheduled show up as colored dots. This really saves time when you need to call a group to your guided reading table. Instead of having to find your binder or clipboard and search for the right paper, you just open the app, tap on the calendar tab, and immediately see the group colors. SO fast and easy!

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

You might be able to tell from the image that you can also go right to your individual lesson plans from the calendar view. Again, this saves a lot of time.

Before I had this app, I first had to find the correct tab in my binder and then flip to the correct lesson plan. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’m much happier spending those minutes teaching instead of searching!

Lesson Plans

Speaking of lesson plans, this tab is probably my favorite part of the whole app. You can choose to create a general lesson plan (for any type of instruction) or a guided reading lesson plan. I’ll focus on the guided reading plan because, well, I’m a reading specialist. 🙂

As you can see from the screenshot below, the parts of the lesson plan are clearly customized for teaching guided reading. When you open up the plan to teach it, there’s a timer BUILT INTO the lesson screen! Could you ask for anything more?!

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

But my favorite thing is that it allows you to re-use lesson plans!!

There’s nothing more annoying than realizing that you are basically re-writing a plan for the Red Group that you taught to the Orange Group 2 months ago! (But of course by the time you search for and find that original plan, you may as well have re-written it anyway.)

When you use the GRO app, you don’t have to deal with this anymore. Of course you can customize the plan to meet the needs of a particular group of students. But when you have a text intro and strategy focus that work SO well with one book – why not use it again? And again, and again. 🙂

When you are in the lesson screen, you have the option of pulling up student notes. You tap the correct student in the group, add a note, and you’re done. Again, no more flipping through binders trying to find the right kiddo – or in Amanda’s case, no more keeping data on sticky notes!!

Lesson Plan w Notes vertical

Students

The final tab in the app is the “Students” tab. This is actually where you’ll want to start after you download the app. You can put in your kids’ names, photos (if you like), as well as lots of other data.

As time goes on and you take more and more notes on a child, you’ll be able to quickly scroll through them and see progress or patterns.

You can also keep track of the student’s reading level – and the app graphs level changes over time!

I love this guided reading app - it was created by a teacher!! GRO helps with guided reading organization and anecdotal note-taking. It allows you to re-use lesson plans so you save a TON of time! You can even use it for teaching other small groups, like math. SO worth it!

Even though this is all electronic, it’s simple to get paper copies of all of these things. The app has a “share” button” that allows you to easily export lessons and data. You can email documents to yourself, a special education teacher, the reading specialist, or even parents. I love this option because it is nice (and sometimes necessary) to have hard copies.

Get The App

This app makes my teacher heart SO happy, and I know it will make your life so much easier! You can get GRO for your iPhone, iPad, or iPad touch.

Before I give you the link, I do want to let you know that the app is not free. It costs about as much as 2 coffee drinks at Starbucks.

It’ll save you time, help you take better notes, and enable you to easily share information about your students. And that is infinitely more valuable than 2 shots of caffeine. 🙂

You can purchase the app HERE – and note that I don’t receive any sort of benefit when you buy it. Amanda was kind enough to let me try the app for free, and I’m sharing it with you because I honestly think that it’s wonderful and will make your literacy instruction better!

If you have any questions about the app or need help once you’ve downloaded it, you can send an email to info@gro-app.com.

Comment below to let me know how you like the app! Happy teaching!

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90 Comments on "GRO: The Must-Have App For Teaching Guided Reading"

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Jneal
Guest

Please tell me this is going to be for androids soon???!!

Amanda
Guest

Hello, this is Amanda Duke.

I am so happy to hear that you like the app and I hate that it’s not available for you on android right now. Unfortunately at this time GRō is only available for iOS. We very much want to see GRō on android and have plans to make that happen, but I can’t yet predict when it will be available.

Our philosophy will always be to make the tools that teachers tell us they want, and to make them the most helpful that they can be. We will do our best to help you!

Shenita
Guest

Wonderful app….is there a way to schedule students to assess for a running records? Like a calendar with a reminder….for example….set it so that Susie is assessed every 2 weeks, etc.
thank you

Amanda
Guest
When using the app this year, I thought about this same thing! Right now, there is not a way to do this like you would on Google calendar with reminders. However, I did find a way that worked for me. Since you can create as many groups as you want and add as many students as you want to each group I created an assessment group. I added all of my students to this group (students can be in more than one group) and made it a color that was different than my other groups. Then I used the blank… Read more »
Toya Jackson
Guest

Hi Amanda, when you have the app ready for androids can you please send me and email to teejack50@yahoo.com so that i can download it. I am always ready to try something new they may be helpful to me to better help educate my students.
Thank you

Tabitha Costner
Guest

I am also very interested in a version of the app for Android.

Anna Smith
Guest

I would have loved this when I taught guided reading but next year I will be strictly math and science for 2nd. I am trying to see if this would be worth it to me to use for guided math. It looks awesome😊

Amanda
Guest
I also love teaching guided math! We began creating the GRō app as a guided reading tool, but in the process I realized how useful it would also be for guided math. To help make it functional for math (or any other subject/specialty) we added a blank lesson plan. This way you can write anything you would like. I use the blank lesson plan for math lessons or for those times you just need a short-hand lesson plan for days that don’t fit your typical routine. We also thought that this feature would make the app useful for Exceptional education… Read more »
Lee
Guest
Oh! I can’t usually weigh in on techy topics, but I have this app, too. Love, love, love it! It makes my life so much easier. I bring my iPad to parent conferences or IEP meetings and all my data and notes are right there. I can also make different groups. This year I had reading groups and word study groups. Next year, I want to add math groups, too. My iPad links with the big screen in my room, so one thing I discovered is that I can put a group up on the screen and tell those kids… Read more »
Hanna
Guest

This sounds amazing! One question though: Can you move students into different groups after they have initially been set, and will their data and notes move with them?

Amanda
Guest
Yes, you can and it is super easy! This was one of the biggest things I wanted the app to do. I was so tired of printing out a list of my groups only to have to reprint it the following week because it was so important to me that my groups were fluid groups and my students were in the group that was the best fit for them. They can move with a couple simple taps. There data is stored on their own student data page that will not be affected when they are moved to a different group.… Read more »
DBowen
Guest

Oh my goodness! I can’t wait until pay day to buy this app!

Raquel Domingo
Guest

I also have a question. As a future user can I change the DRA reading levels in the app? In my district we use numbers instead of letters.

I’m so excited to show this app in my school and start using it for next year!

Amanda
Guest
Yes, you can choose your leveling system when you create your account. Right now, you can choose from the following leveling systems: – Fountas & Pinnell – DRA – Reading Recovery – Lexile – UK National Curriculum – IRLA *this one was just added Some of these are also very similar to other leveling systems because they use numbers or letters. So, if you do not use one of these leveling systems you still might be able to make the graph work for you. If you do use one that is not listed please send us an email and we… Read more »
kate
Guest

If I only taught literacy, this app would be perfect. Planbook.com suits my current needs much better since it has all of the same functions but allows me to add in other non-literacy subjects that I teach.

I EXTREMELY appreciate this kind of post – I hope you continue to consider posting current tech alternatives like GRO. Going paper-free is very important to me and the community I educate.

Angie
Guest

AMAZING!!!! I am so excited for this app!!! Thank you for sharing!

Jackie
Guest

Just wondering if the graph of reading level is only with alphabet system. In Australia we mostly use the Reading recovery numbering system not the Fountas and Pinnell alphabet system. I know it wouldn’t be difficult to use a conversion chart to convert to a number each time but that requires me then to get out a piece of paper which this app is trying to solve.

Amanda
Guest

I absolutely understand that it is much easier not to have to use the conversion charts. We have included a few different leveling systems that you can choose from when you create your account. Right now, you can choose from the following leveling systems:

– Fountas & Pinnell
– DRA
– Reading Recovery
– Lexile
– UK National Curriculum

The graph will be set according to the leveling system that you choose.

A J
Guest

Are the graphs and reading levels only the letters or can that be changed?

Amanda
Guest

Yes, the graph will fit the leveling system that you choose. We have included a few different leveling systems that you can choose from when you create your account. Right now, you can choose from the following leveling systems:

– Fountas & Pinnell
– DRA
– Reading Recovery
– Lexile
– UK National Curriculum

Some of these are also very similar to other leveling systems because they use numbers or letters. So, if you do not use one of these leveling systems you still might be able to make the graph work for you. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Rachelle
Guest

Next school year I believe we’ll have to have our lesson plans available in One Note for administration. Is there a way to upload lessons from this app to One Note? Love this concept!!

Amanda
Guest
We have wondered if this was something that teachers would want to be able to do, thanks for sharing and reaching out. Right now, you can share/send your lesson plans as a screen shot/picture (I explained a little more about this below). We would like to create a way to export the lesson plan in another format but if I am honest we do not have an exact timeline for when this will happen. I would love your feedback for the best way to export it. How would you like to see it done? Would you like to have it… Read more »
Melissia
Guest

PDF is most versatile

Marlee Wilhelm
Guest

Question: and sorry if I missed this as I read, I got a little too excited and just began skimming so I could get to the end and find out about all the goodies! Can you share your lesson plans with another teacher who has the app. For example, I write up a plan and the teacher next door wants to use it can I send her the plan and she can open and save it onto her GRO? Does that make any sense?

Amanda
Guest
That is a really great question and is one feature that we are working to make better right now. Unfortunately, right now, it does not work exactly like you are wanting. However, you can send a picture of the lesson plan to someone. There is a share button at the top of the lesson plan screen that will basically take a screen shot of your lesson plan and then you can share it just as you would a photo. The other teacher would have the content of your lesson but would have to type it into their own app. Just… Read more »
Megan
Guest

Hello! I want to make sure I understand what you’re saying correctly. I have to be able to share my lesson plans with administration as PDFs or editable documents. It sounds like the app only allows exports as JPEGs. Am I understanding that correctly?
Thanks!

Amanda
Guest

As the app is today on the app store, you can only send it in a picture format. However, we are releasing an update soon with a few more features. One of the features it the ability to send/export lesson pans as a text file as well as a picture. You will also be able to share lesson plans with other accounts within the app. Teachers will also be able to share students between accounts with this update. Please let me know if you want more infrmation of have any other questions!

Joanne Trumbull
Guest

When this update happens, will notes taken by other teachers about the students also be able to be shared with other account users? If the reading specialist takes a group and I take a group, will we be able to see what each other’s plans, books used and notes on students? This is something I would be looking for.

Amanda
Guest
Yes, you can and will be able to do this. Right now you could both sign into the same account at the same time if you wanted to see the exact same things. With this update you will be able to each have your own account and share lesson plans and students between accounts. The lesson plans will be like giving a copy to another teacher and they can use it as is or edit it. If they edit the plan on their account it will not change the plan you wrote on your account. The student sharing works a… Read more »
AnnaL
Guest

I just shared this app with my administration team. They LOVE it! We were wondering if you had an option for schools to purchase the apps for many people at once, like you would for a computer program or website?

Amanda
Guest

Hi Anna,
Thank you so much for sharing, that is so exciting to hear. I would love to talk with you about this option more. Will you send us an email at info@gro-app.com so we discuss the best way to help you out?

Kari
Guest
I have a few questions about this app before I decide to buy it. 1.) Under the Lesson Plans header above, it shows a picture of the lesson plan. Is that all there is for the lesson plan? Can you add other things to it? Can you tap on each lesson plan area and it opens up to more (for example, can you tap on “New Text Intro” and open it up to see only that part)? 2.) I have to give my lesson plans to my principal next year. At this point, I plan to give him hard copies.… Read more »
Amanda
Guest
Hey Kari, Thanks for asking questions for clarification. Hopefully I can help. 1.) The lesson plan that you see in the picture above is one of the two options for lesson plans you will have at this time. In the set guided reading lesson plan there are drop down boxes and open text boxes. The reading focus and word work/writing sections have a drop down box of pre-set options and a text box. You do not have to use the drop downs if you do not want to. The text boxes expand if you need more room. The new text… Read more »
Carrie
Guest

Can this be used on multiple devices? If an aide takes a group can she login to the same account on her iPad and take notes on my students while I do the same on a different iPad?

Amanda
Guest

Yes! You can login to as many devices you would like to using the same account. You just have to have the app downloaded on the device. We are also currently working on a feature to allow teachers with two separate accounts to share the same student and both take notes on their student data page. You will also be able to share lesson plans.

Stephanie
Guest

Hi, I was wondering if there is any way to print from this app, if you need to print your data or lesson plans for any reason? You might have already answered this. Thanks

Amanda
Guest

That is a good question! Right now you cannot print directly from the app. However, you can export your lesson plans and student data in an email, in a text file and a screen shot, and print from there. We are still working to improve this feature. We will also look into the possibility of being able to print directly from the app! Thanks for your feedback!

Kellie
Guest

This app looks amazing! I was planning on going digital with my GR binder this year but was still trying to figure out how and this is the solution. I do have a question: I teach upper elementary and don’t meet all my students in groups, some I just confer with. Is there a way to set up individual students with conference notes?

Amanda
Guest
I am so happy you hear your thoughts and that you were looking for the same thing I was when we decided to create this app! I really hope that it meets your needs. I would love to hear your feedback after you use it. Let us know if there are any ways in which we could improve it to make it more helpful! As for your question… Yes, you can you can. First off, each student has there own data page where you can add note at any time. You could meet with that students and simply pull up… Read more »
Michele \"Shelly\" Bowen
Guest
Michele \"Shelly\" Bowen

This question may have been asked already, but I was wondering if I can build lesson plans for books and then pull them up to use for groups as needed? This would would allow me to work on lesson plans so their ready when I need them.

Amanda
Guest

If I am understanding correctly, yes you can. Each time you create a lesson it is saved in your account. You can later search for them by name of book, title of lesson, or reading level. You can then edit this lesson plan or duplicate it to make it available for a different group. You can create them without assigning them to a group and then later duplicate it to assign it to a group. I hope this answers your question. If is does not or you would like to talk more please don’t hesitate to email me!

Diana
Guest

Will there be the option to take pictures of student work and upload it to individual students.

Amanda
Guest

This is one of the many new features that we are working hard to add to the app!

Jess
Guest
I am wondering this too! It is hard for me to get away from post its because for me writing is so much easier than typing while working with a student. Is there a way to take a picture of a post it and it be added to notes? As you can see I can’t let go of my Postits! Or is there a way to write notes in the notes section with a screen pen and it be translated into typed notes? I know I’ve seen that somewhere but not sure where! That would be a perfect merge for… Read more »
Amanda
Guest

This is a feature that is in the works! Can’t promise a date for when it will be available, but we are working hard to get it to you as soon as possible.

Courtney
Guest

I am so excited for this but I need to make sure it works for my needs first. Is it possible to have different classes where the groups are? I will be teaching two classes with at least 5 reading groups each. Will I be able to keep these classes separate or will I see all the groups at once?

Amanda
Guest
As of right now there would not be a way to keep them separate on the same account. However there are some ways to make this happen will only a little effort. When I had two different types of groups (reading and word study) I color coded them to keep them a little more organized. You could do this with the two classes, but the students would still be all mixed in on the same screen. What I think would be best is to create two accounts, one for each class. You can create as many accounts as you need.… Read more »
Angela
Guest

Hi! I’m also interested about the android app, but also wondering if there is our will be a Web- based option? That sounds like a lot of typing on my touch screen and would be much, much easier with a keyboard. Does anyone have a work around for this?

Amanda
Guest
We have gotten much more interest in an android version of this app than we were expecting. We really really want to make this happen and are working towards it! We are also pouring our efforts into adding feature to the iOS version. We will have an update very soon with features that will allow you to share lesson plans, students, data, and add pictures to the student data notes (like work samples). We have also thought about a web based version but, because there have been more teachers asking, we are going to pursue the android version first. I… Read more »
Amy
Guest

So many schools are switching to Google. Is this available to sync with Google Sheets, Docs, etc.? What a great idea; well done! 🙂

Amanda
Guest

Thank you for your kind words! Our school just switched over to using Google as well. I would love to talk with you about this a little more and hear your ideas. Would you mind sending us an email so that could hear more of your thoughts about what that might look like? You can email us a info@gro-app.com. Thank you for your feedback!

Julie
Guest

Just wondering if you’ve thought of releasing a trial version, like where you could enter 1 student or something and see the screens full size?

Amanda
Guest

We have thought about trying to make that happen, but at this time it is not available. However, I would love to set up a time to do a live demo with you over a video call if you are interested! Just send me an email at info@gro-app.com.

Brenda
Guest

I just bought the app and am frustrated – both of my email addresses are saying invalid to register – what can I do?

Amanda
Guest

Hi Brenda, I am sorry that you had a bit of trouble with this! Thank you for reaching out via email. I think that we got this this fixed for you, but PLEASE let me know if you have any other questions.

Amanda
Guest

So sorry that you had a little trouble with this! Thank you for reaching out via email. I think we got this taken care of for you. Please let me know if you need anything else!

Lacey Hutchinson
Guest

Oh my goodness!! This app looks so awesome! Any update on when it will be available to android users?? I would LOVE to use this for the upcoming school year! I also know of a lot of other android users that would love to use it. What a genius idea for teachers to stay organized!

Amanda
Guest

I am so happy to hear your kind thoughts! We want so badly to make the app available for Android and are trying very hard to make it happen! Unfortunately, we do not know when it will be available. We have had many requests so it is at the top of our priority list, but it is a big project. I am so sorry that I don’t have a better answer for you at this time. We will keep you updated!

Erica Cooper
Guest

My teammates and I are wondering if more than one person can be logged into the app under the same account at a time. We have literacy aids that help with our reading groups, and they would need to use the app simultaneously.

Amanda
Guest

Yes, you can! As long as you have the app downloaded on the device you can log into any account and you can be logged in at the same time. You will just may have to refresh to see data that has been added while you are working.

Robyn
Guest

My partner and I would be all over this, if it came in Android. Does it allow you to share gross with interventionist s?

Amanda
Guest

Just sent version 3.0 to Apple. This version will allow you to share students and lesson plans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_ezFBeIO40

Kayla
Guest

I plan on using CAFE in my classroom this upcoming year. Can I use this app for one on one conferencing? Can you do multiple subjects? I would love to have one place/folder where I keep my reading notes and one folder for say writing conferences.

Amanda
Guest
Yes, you can use the app for one on one conferencing. We are working to make this idea even easier. You can simply go to the student data page and add note directly to the page. If you want to schedule meetings with individual students on the calendar you could put all of the students in one group and use a blank lesson plan template to schedule a meeting for a student with their name on the lesson plan. I would love to explain this more if you want to send me an email at info@gro-app.com. Currently, there is only… Read more »
Terri
Guest

Does the iPad have to be connected to wifi to use the app?

Amanda
Guest

Yes, you do need an internet connection to use the app.

Peggy
Guest

Hi I just came across this app and it looks so helpful! However, I do not have access to an ipad in my classroom. Is it possible to access this app online so I could use it on a laptop?

Amanda
Guest

Currently, the GRō is only available on iPad and iPhone. We would love to make it available on more platforms, but do not have a time line for when it will be available.

Kate
Guest

I tried to download the app both on my phone and computer but it is not coming up as available… I am clicking the link from here and I tried searching GRO guided reading organizer just in case… am I missing something? Is it not available in the U.S. as it stated? Thanks!

Amanda
Guest

Sorry about the confusion! We were just fixing somthing on the new version. It is fixed and is available now. Please let me know if you have any problems.

Sarah
Guest

Amanda, I tried to find the app on the AppStore, and it’s telling me this isn’t currently available in the U.S. store… I followed the link above.

Amanda
Guest

Sorry about the confusion! We were just fixing somthing on the new version. It is fixed and is available now. Please let me know if you have any problems.

Joy
Guest

I am tapping on the purchase app here link and I just get script. I am on an iPad.

Amanda
Guest

Sorry about the confusion! We were just fixing somthing on the new version. It is fixed and is available now. Please let me know if you have any problems.

Concerned
Guest

I just purchased the app and I’m having problems with it on my iPad. Either the students or groups will not load or I get an SSL error.

Amanda
Guest

We will get that figured out for you! Just send us an email at info@gro-app.com so we can get some more information.

Kim
Guest

I’m interested in the android app but also making it available on the computer for typing easier.

My question is will there be a way for those of us interested in the android app to be notified that it’s available?

purplepearlopal
Guest

Would be an amazing app if it could also combine Remind/Bloomz capabilities by enabling you to text the anecdotal comments to the children’s parents.

Tina
Guest

Does it include the Guided Reading levels?

Nicole E
Guest

Help! The app will not download any of my student information on my schools wifi. I am pretty sad it is saying it is not a safe wireless system but I really want to have this app as part of my reading routines. Is there any way I can override the program saying the wifi is not to be trusted so I can still go on the information on my IPad at school during guided reading time!? thank you in advance for your help. 🙂

Rebecca
Guest

I’d like to know when it’s ready for Android too.

Melinda
Guest

I would love to see a Web based version of this!

Hastings
Guest

I want to change the leveling to a-z.not Lexie . How do I do that?

Amanda
Guest

If you are still looking to change your leveling system we would love to help you with that! Just send us an email at info@gro-app.com. Let us know what email address you used to set up the account and which leveling system you would like to use and we can change it for you.

Elizabeth Radke
Guest

Can you ‘ pull in’ strategies to target for each group. Like a drop down menu?

Nicona
Guest

I would love an android version of this! It looks to be a very useful tool!

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