General Studies

Children spend half their days in General Studies and the other half in Hebrew/Judaic Studies. Students in all grades have classes in art, music, P.E., technology (grades 2-4), library, and science. We have a separate science classroom with two science teachers. We offer STEAM approaches that are transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

CURRICULUM BY GRADE

Click the grade levels below for a detailed look at the Ramaz Lower School General Studies curriculum.

Grade 1

First grade is a year of amazing discoveries and a time when children learn so many new things. Children begin first grade with a wide range of skill levels, and each child receives instruction at his or her level. It is a year where children transition to a more structured learning environment, and develop a sense of responsibility and independence. In addition to the academic curriculum, we also focus on the social and emotional development of each child. We strive to instill a love of learning in each child and work to create a safe and supportive first grade experience.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Our first grade reading curriculum helps students become enthusiastic and fluent readers. We incorporate beautiful examples of children’s literature as well as instruction in phonics to teach the skills and strategies of reading. Each child learns to make personal connections to literature in order to deepen comprehension, choose appropriate books, and become a more thoughtful and fluent reader.

MATHEMATICS

The goal of our math program is for students to develop a deep understanding of the mathematical concepts taught at each grade level. Our students engage in problem solving activities, work collaboratively and participate in mathematical discussions. We follow the Singapore math program, which uses concrete tools and pictorial representations before presenting the students with abstract concepts.

First grade students work in small groups discovering the structure of the number system, numerical relationships, addition and subtraction, and graphing and measurement. Using manipulative materials as the foundation, students compose and decompose numbers and become aware of mathematical patterns and generalizations. Students use graphic organizers and symbols to represent problem situations. Math games are played to develop flexibility in thinking and fluency with basic facts. The methods of instruction are differentiated to meet the needs of every student.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Our social studies curriculum includes the study of current events, the study of Jewish and American holidays, map skills, needs and wants, and goods and services. The children also learn all about communities. We begin the year thinking about our classroom as a very small yet vibrant community, continue with our larger school community, and ultimately the children explore our neighborhood community. The children learn about the people that live in our community and how they work every day to keep it safe, happy, and beautiful.

SCIENCE

Through hands-on investigations, first-grade students discover and understand the properties of water that make it vital to living things and our planet. Students experience what happens as water changes phase through freezing, melting, and evaporating and use different materials to explore buoyancy. By handling and closely observing sea stars, urchins, seahorses, and other marine life, students learn about the ocean and begin to understand what a habitat is and what a habitat provides for living things. Students watch as live insects go through their life cycles and connect this learning to the idea that all living things grow and change. In learning about their own bodies, students investigate human digestion, focusing on how the food we eat gives us energy and changes as it passes through our bodies. Throughout the year, students practice using their senses and science measurement tools to make detailed observations of their surroundings, describing and illustrating findings in their personal science journals.

Students learn about the differences and adaptations that Penguins have so that they can live in the South Pole. By engaging empathetically with Penguins they learn about the Science of Habitats and Biomes. Later students design an ideal adaptation for the beaks of birds so that they may survive on different food sources.

ART

The first grade art program focuses on the elements of art such as line, shape, color, form, and texture. Through a variety of two and three dimensional projects these concepts are taught. Students study the great masters such as Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Romero Britto. Students are inspired by these artists when creating their original masterpieces. For example, the children learn to identify primary and secondary colors and explore the mixing and blending of colors. A love of Israel and the Jewish holidays tie into our curriculum throughout the year. First graders learn about their neighborhood and create community workers using recycled materials.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing and musical play. They meet weekly where they learn the musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, and form. Through vocal exploration, they learn different ways to sing expressively. Students engage in music-making utilizing visual, aural, and kinesthetic modalities to allow for musical success for all. They explore rhythmic motives through performance on non-pitched percussion instruments. Listening skills are refined through exposure to various musical styles. Students develop performance skills as they learn prayer-related songs and prepare for their Chag Ha-Siddur.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and Secular Holidays. First Grade is a special year in which the students have the opportunity to attend and participate in the weekly Lower School Friday Oneg Shabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel.

LIBRARY

Students visit the library once a week for a read-aloud, followed by guided book selection. First-graders particularly love our Fairy Tale unit and the books we read in celebration of the American and Jewish holidays. Reading aloud helps develop students’ auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The mission of first grade physical education is to use physical activity to teach students the physical, cognitive, and social skills necessary to develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Our goal is to provide children with enough confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to enjoy participating in various activities and sports. The students are taught the basic concepts of different organized sports and practice grade-appropriate throwing, catching, passing, and shooting skills. At the end of each sports unit, the students have enough knowledge and skill to participate in an organized game. Students also learn movement concept skills, spatial awareness, and teamwork during our cooperative units. We focus on providing students with communication skills that will help to create stronger relationships among classmates. Kindness, respect, sportsmanship and good listening skills are continuously addressed throughout the year.

Grade 2

Second graders continue to develop foundational skills to help them acquire greater learning proficiency and independence as they progress in their education. Teachers foster the students’ natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Students are supported in applying knowledge to new contexts, thinking critically, accepting new responsibilities, constructively using unstructured time, and taking time and pride in their work.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Using a wide repertoire of decoding strategies and comprehension skills, students begin to make sense of chapter books and other more complex reading materials, including nonfiction and mysteries. They get pleasure from working on reading fluently and deepening their comprehension. Students write complete sentences and go through the writing process to generate outlines, drafts, and paragraphs to express specific ideas. They also work on developing their proofreading skills and editing and revising their own work using checklists. The students' vocabulary and acquisition of language expand as they practice retelling and summarizing. Their critical thinking skills grow as they recognize a growing number of story elements and learn the differences between various genres of literature.

MATHEMATICS

The goal of our math program is for students to develop a deep understanding of the mathematical concepts taught at each grade level. Our students engage in problem solving activities, work collaboratively and participate in mathematical discussions. We follow the Singapore math program, which uses concrete tools and pictorial representations before presenting the students with abstract concepts.

In second grade, students learn to compute numbers within 1,000 using a variety of strategies as well as the vertical algorithm. Using tools such as number lines and base ten blocks that represent the structure of number system, students discover numerical patterns and develop a solid conceptual base for number operations as well as geometry, data and measurement. The students work in small groups to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to articulate their reasoning as they learn to use multiple methods to solve problems. The methods of instruction are differentiated to meet the needs of every student.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study the different communities to which they belong, orienting themselves to their neighborhood, city, state, and country by using maps. They compare and contrast urban, suburban, and rural communities in a variety of ways, including Venn diagrams and community collages. The students focus on New York City, visiting the Hudson and East Rivers, and complete an authentic and integrated research project on New York City landmarks.

SCIENCE

Using experimentation, dissection and observation students learn about the roles of the various parts of flowering plants. They design their own experiment to understand plant growth and learn about the connection between flowers, nectar feeders and plant reproduction. Through hands-on activities with cars, ramps, and falling objects, students begin to build accurate understandings of force, balance, and motion and engage in relevant engineering and construction projects. Students learn to act and think like engineers and design and test structures that use the science of buoyancy in boats and the science of force distribution in bridges. During this unit of study, students use scientific tools to practice their measurement skills in both the customary and metric systems. To help them understand their own bodies better, students learn how oxygen and other materials move around the body through the human circulatory and respiratory systems. Throughout the year, students practice their observational and questioning skills and document their work in personal science journals.


TECHNOLOGY

Formal technology classes begin in second grade. Students attend class in the Technology Lab once a week. The curriculum accentuates 21st century skills, such as navigating the web, using usernames and passwords to sign into web accounts, and becoming responsible digital citizens. Additionally, students dive deep into coding principles in many different forms. Second graders are enrolled in a coding course where they solve puzzles and use game play to create algorithms and utilize logical thinking. Students drive robots using coding apps requiring them to use their coding knowledge in “real-world” applications. These coding skills are paired with their imagination while using Scratch Jr. to tell complex stories. Students learn special-purpose keys on the keyboard and are introduced to technology management and organization. Classes are project-based to enhance and augment the classroom curriculum. Students create projects that introduce them to basic word processing functions and screencasting, as well as locating, moving and resizing images. Each classroom has an interactive board that projects the teacher’s computer. Student chromebooks and iPads are also available on a sign-out basis by classroom teachers.

ART

The Grade 2 art program reinforces concepts previously taught in first grade. Many of the art projects are integrated into the children’s social studies curriculum, based on New York City. Second graders learn the role that an architect plays in designing buildings. They become urban planners as they create a city skyline, a set of blue prints and a prototype of a building.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing and musical play. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, and form. Through vocal exploration, children build on what they learned in Grade 1 and explore singing expressively. Students engage in music-making utilizing visual, aural, and kinesthetic modalities to allow for musical success for all. Listening skills are refined through exposure to various musical styles.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and Secular Holidays. Students enjoy participation in a weekly Lower School Friday Oneg Shabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community through music.

The first semester focuses on preparation for the Chag HaChumash where the students learn and prepare Torah-related songs, include basic harmony, and hone their singing and performance skills. During the second semester, students develop their listening skills as they learn about the instruments that make up an orchestra, and how they are classified into families. Students are exposed to various styles of music, including selections by famous composers, and are encouraged to apply their new knowledge of orchestral instruments. As students study a unit on New York in their General Studies classes, they learn and perform a repertoire of New York related songs.

LIBRARY

Students visit the library once a week for a read-aloud, followed by guided book selection. To help students develop an appreciation for the creative expression of ideas, in second grade we explore a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Reading aloud helps develop students’ auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The mission of second grade physical education is to use physical activity to teach students the physical, cognitive, and social skills necessary to develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Our goal is to provide children with enough confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to enjoy participating in various activities and sports. The students begin to apply their knowledge of different organized sports and continue to build their throwing, catching, passing, and shooting skills. At the end of each sports unit, the students are capable of applying their own knowledge and skills to be able to participate in competitive organized games.

Students begin to apply movement concept skills, spatial awareness, and teamwork during our cooperative units. We focus on providing students with communication skills that will help to create stronger relationships among classmates. Kindness, respect, sportsmanship and good listening skills are continuously addressed throughout the year.

Grade 3

Third grade students are encouraged to expand their love for the printed word. As such, they are exposed to a variety of reading materials and asked to write in a variety of styles. They develop skills in estimating, measuring, and predicting data. The material students learn in school is reviewed and enriched through long-term projects and independent assignments, as well as through homework.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Distinguishing among such genres as historical fiction, informational text, poetry, and nonfiction, students develop a love for many types of literature. They learn to identify parts of stories to enforce contextual skills and reading comprehension. Studying word roots and working with vocabulary units help improve word usage and spelling. Through prewriting conferences, students gain facility and comfort with using figurative and descriptive language in their writing. Mini-lessons on sentence and paragraph structure are part of learning the writing process. Students learn to research various sources and how to organize and report the information. They work on their penmanship, learning cursive handwriting. Through oral reports, students strengthen their oral communication skills.

MATHEMATICS

Third grade students build their problem-solving skills and strategies throughout the year. Working with manipulatives, such as blocks and counters, students learn to read and write numbers through ten thousand. Students learn how to properly use the multiplication table through problems, games, and flashcards. They learn basic division and how it relates to the operations of multiplication and subtraction. Students will use models to solve real-world problems involving the four operations. They begin the study of fractions, including comparing fractions and identifying fractions of a set. Students learn geometry, finding angles and identifying lines, as well as understanding area and perimeter of figures. A graphing unit teaches students how to make and interpret data from a variety of charts.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study India, Peru, and Japan as part of their study of communities around the world. Students begin to develop a familiarity with world geography, and learn to relate climate and other physical conditions to the development of human culture. Through projects, class bulletin boards, museum trips, and role-playing, students begin to understand worlds that are radically different from their own. Students also learn basic historic chronology by placing events on timelines, and study current events to learn that history is still going on around them today.

SCIENCE

Third-grade learning in science begins with an exploration of Earth’s place in our solar system and the relationship between Earth and the Sun. From here, students investigate how the Sun and other environmental factors affect weather and learn specific vocabulary words to describe daily conditions. Students learn to use and read thermometers, in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit, as well as weather forecasts, while they collect, graph, and analyze weather data to identify patterns and make decisions. Working collaboratively, students engage in an engineering activity that requires them to design solutions that reduce the impacts of weather-related hazards. Students also use models and hands-on materials to visualize the rotation and revolution of the Earth, in addition to the phases of the Moon. Shifting our focus to life sciences, students identify and investigate adaptations and structures of life that help living things survive in their specific environments. Taking an Inquiry approach, students develop an understanding of the complexity of the natural world. Their new understanding of food webs and balanced ecosystems provide them with science solutions to guide how they can act to look after a healthy planet.

ART

Third grade students begin to develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication. Students focus on the world community as they study the cultures of the people of Peru and Japan. Inspired by a study of Peruvian Inca masks, students design their own original mask, using found objects and recycled materials. They learn about the art of Kirigami, which is the Japanese craft of cutting and folding paper. The contemporary work of artist Jen Aranyi develops the students’ understanding of foreground, middle ground and background. Using watercolor technique and guided drawing, winter landscapes are rendered. Art activities develop flexibility and problem-solving skills in two- and three-dimensional media and art forms.

TECHNOLOGY

In the third grade, students have a formal computer class once per week, with access to chromebooks and 1:1 iPads. Computer classes are project-based and are integrated with classroom curricula. Students learn to use developmentally appropriate digital resources such as digital maps, subscription databases, and websites selected by teachers. Students begin utilizing GSuite, the collection of Google Apps, in preparation for receiving their own accounts in 4th grade. This includes knowledge of word processing and presentation applications. Students are introduced to keyboarding and use online software to practice. Third graders continue coding and expand their knowledge and skill, solving complex problems, telling stories, and operating robots. Using digital animation, students are able to demonstrate learning in interesting and creative ways. They practice responsible use and care of technology systems and learn about proper digital citizenship. Each classroom has an interactive board that projects the teacher’s computer.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing and musical play. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, and form.Through vocal exploration, they build on what they learned in Grade 2 and explore the different ways in which they can sing expressively. Students engage in music-making utilizing visual, aural, and kinesthetic modalities to allow for musical success for all. Listening skills are refined through exposure to various musical styles.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and Secular Holidays. Students enjoy a weekly Lower School Friday Oneg Shabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community.

Students are introduced to standard notation to strengthen their music literacy skills.They further study orchestral instruments in an effort to deepen their understanding of musical elements. Students engage in creating, performing, and responding in order to enhance their overall musicianship.

LIBRARY

In third grade the library program shifts to beginning research skills and to helping students become more independent users of the library and its resources. We continue to read aloud to further develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The mission of third grade physical education is to use physical activity to teach students the physical, cognitive, and social skills necessary to develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Our goal is to provide children with confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to enjoy participating in various activities and sports. The students are able to able to participate in competitive, organized games by applying their prior knowledge and their throwing, catching, passing, and shooting skills.

Students are able to apply their movement concept skills, spatial awareness, and teamwork during our cooperative units. We focus on providing students with communication skills that will help to create stronger relationships among classmates. Kindness, respect, sportsmanship and good listening skills are continuously addressed throughout the year.

Grade 4

Students in the fourth grade are proficient in reading, writing, and mathematics. As such, they spend time honing their basic skills in all study areas to prepare them for the more critical and analytical work of the upper elementary grades. Through group work, investigations, and research projects, students progress in their ability to work with one another and to interact socially.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Students work on identifying central ideas and related details, as well as distinct literary elements, such as plot, theme, and characterization. Through genre studies and author studies, they learn to evaluate the author's purpose and point of view, and to analyze characters through their actions and attitudes. They grow in their appreciation of various types of writing, as they distinguish between expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative texts. In their own writing, students work on developing paragraphs in which subordinate ideas are related to a main topic and topic sentence. They learn new research techniques, and they use discussion as a stimulus for their writing. They develop checklists which aid them in their proofreading, and in editing their own work. Students simultaneously work on developing their vocabulary and their reading comprehension as they derive word meanings from contextual clues.

MATHEMATICS

With the aid of charts, number cards, tables, and graphs, students learn the numbers to millions and learn to add and subtract five digit numbers. Building on their third grade multiplication studies, students learn to multiply two- and three-digit numbers and work on rounding numbers and estimation. Basic algebra is introduced, and a unit on division teaches students how to divide with remainders and with zero in the quotients, as well as learning to calculate averages. Students use pictorial representations to help them add and subtract fractions, and use graph paper to relate fractions to decimal numbers. Oral and written word problems demonstrate the real-life applications of the skills that are being learned.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Students study the geography of the New York area, reinforcing and building their facility with topographical maps, globes, compasses, and other tools. They learn how to create their own maps. Studying the early people of New York allows students to understand the impact of nature on human migration and culture. Students access the World Wide Web as they research early Native Americans and recreate native crafts and folktales. Studying the confrontation between the European settlers and Native Americans allows for discussion of diversity and racial attitudes; a unit on Colonial times and the causes of the American Revolution enables students to develop a sense of patriotism. A study on the settlement and colonial growth of the state and city of New York helps students understand the development of New York City as a world center for commerce and immigration. Students are exposed to various media and are taught to evaluate their respective advantages and disadvantages. Current events discussions continue as the students' media reading skills grow.

SCIENCE

Through hands-on investigations, students explore magnets and magnetic force in action. Students experience how magnets affect other magnets and magnetic objects and apply their knowledge to engineer and improve an everyday object. From here, electromagnets are created and tested to demonstrate electromagnetic force and the relationship between magnetism and electricity. Using batteries, bulbs, and wires, students engage in active inquiry as they construct a variety of circuits and learn how electrical energy travels. Students continue to develop their ideas about energy through experiments with light and sound and are introduced to the basic properties of waves. Energy is further investigated and measurement skills are practiced as students study the advantages of using simple machines. Students then extend their learning to their own bodies and identify parts of the human skeleton that function like specific simple machines. This leads students into an interactive examination of the human skeletal and muscular systems. Students use X-rays, models, and iPads to learn the names of bones, the types and placement of joints, and the ways the skeleton and muscles work together to allow our bodies to move. By performing an owl pellet dissection as a part of this unit of study, students observe real bones and use their knowledge of the human skeletal system to identify rodent bones and assemble a complete skeleton. Throughout the course of the year, students practice and refine their observational and measurement skills to collect and use data to make well-supported claims and document findings in personal science journals.

TECHNOLOGY

In the fourth grade, technology is used as a tool to enhance learning and teaching throughout the day. Each classroom has a tablet for every child, access to a laptop cart, and an interactive board that projects the teacher’s computer. With their own Google accounts, students continue to develop word processing skills. They learn about workflow management and digital collaboration as they learn about the capabilities of the Google education apps, such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and Forms. Students learn to save, create, annotate, share, edit, comment, and receive feedback on a variety of documents. Fourth-graders learn about digital content creation as they work on projects that involve e-book publishing, screencasting, movie-making, and photo editing. Digital literacy skills are integrated into research projects. Students become more familiar with academic databases and online maps, and they learn how to search the web efficiently and critically. As they gain access to their school email and obtain commenting rights on class pages, fourth-graders learn about proper citizenship in 21st-century environments. Coding continues with access to websites that allow students to express their creativity while utilizing coding tools to create games and stories. Students explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) concepts and learn how skills and knowledge are trans-disciplinary. The STEAM initiative continues to grow and develop. Students continue to learn proper keyboarding skills and are able to apply them to writing assignments across curricula.

ART

The art curriculum in fourth grade reinforces the concepts of foreground, middle ground and background. Students are introduced to printmaking, optical illusion and radial relief design. Through a guided drawing and painting unit, students learn perspective and further their watercolor painting technique. In connection with their Social Studies Native American unit, they study and create a wampum belt and pottery inspired by this culture.

MUSIC

Students enjoy a two-semester program involving singing and musical play. They meet weekly where they learn the basic musical elements of melody, tempo, dynamics, and form. Through vocal exploration, they build on what they learned in Grade 3 and explore the different ways in which they can sing expressively. Students sing repertoire in unison, canon, and two parts. Students engage in music-making utilizing visual, aural, and kinesthetic modalities to allow for musical success for all. Listening skills are refined through exposure to various musical styles.

Students learn both traditional Jewish and American songs, as well as Modern American & Israeli songs in both English and Hebrew. They also learn songs related to various Chagim and Secular Holidays. Students enjoy a weekly Lower School Friday Oneg Shabbat, as well as communal musical Hallel, creating a sense of community through music.

Music literacy skills continue to develop through engagement in creating, performing, and responding with voices and instruments. Students learn how to play the recorder, in preparation for their performance in the Link-Up program, which culminates in a concert at Carnegie Hall where students sing and play as part of the orchestra.

The Ramaz Lower School music program culminates as students prepare songs for a grade-wide Zimriah performance based on a particular theme, value or Chag. They learn and perform repertoire in unison and two parts.

LIBRARY

Fourth-graders are already independent users of the library and its print resources. Our librarians collaborate with our technology teachers to teach students the important research skills they apply to social studies and science research projects. Students are introduced to the Library’s subscription databases and learn to access the Ramaz e-Book collection for their research. We continue to read aloud to further develop the auditory comprehension and critical thinking skills. The Library’s extensive collection of both English and Hebrew books allows students to read and think about new and divergent ideas. Book browsing and selection allows students to identify and explore their own areas of interest and demonstrate personal responsibility. Our program helps students develop a love of reading and become lifelong readers. The librarians often partner with classroom and specialty teachers to support and enrich the classroom experiences.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The mission of fourth grade physical education is to use physical activity to teach students the physical, cognitive, and social skills necessary to develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

We focus on providing students with communication skills that will help to create stronger relationships among classmates. Kindness, respect, sportsmanship and good listening skills are continuously addressed throughout the year. During our cooperative units, students are able to apply their movement concept skills, spatial awareness, teamwork, and good communication.

Our goal is to provide children with confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to enjoy participating in various activities and sports. The students are able to participate in competitive, organized games by applying their prior knowledge. Their throwing, catching, passing, and shooting skills have become proficient enough to excel during games and to be able to successfully move onto middle school.

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