TeachersFirst's Online Tools and Timesavers Editor's Choice

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This collection of Editors' Choice FREE, reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students save time using handy online tools that get the job done and make your classroom run smoothly. Find tools for organizing and communicating, managing your classroom, do-it-yourself creating, sharing links, useful utilities, saving paper, and much more.

Think of this as a handpicked list of "friendly favs" from the Thinking Teachers at TeachersFirst. For a more extensive collection, see our full listing of online tools. For more sophisticated tools to create full blown projects and more (conveniently sorted into categories), see the TeachersFirst Edge.  

 

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Text to Speech Reader - WellSource Ltd

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Drag, upload, or paste text files to convert your text to speech instantly. Choose from many voice and language options for replay. Other options allow control over the speed of ...more
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Drag, upload, or paste text files to convert your text to speech instantly. Choose from many voice and language options for replay. Other options allow control over the speed of your speech replay. Use the upload icon to save to your computer.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): chinese (48), french (84), german (60), spanish (105), text to speech (17)

In the Classroom

Share with world language learners to hear text spoken in the native language. Use this site with ESL/ELL students to convert small pieces of text to their native language. Use the speed options to slow down speech for students who are language learners. Use this site with students who have difficulty reading, especially when working with more challenging passages and text. Include a link to this site on your class website for students to use when learning new vocabulary in a different language and for your ESL/ELL students to hear something read or pronounced both in and outside of class.

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Classroom Architect - 4Teachers.org

Grades
K to 12
8 Favorites 0  Comments
Rearrange and design your classroom without having to move a desk using Classroom Architect! This online tool allows you to customize a design for your classroom layout using your dimensions...more
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Rearrange and design your classroom without having to move a desk using Classroom Architect! This online tool allows you to customize a design for your classroom layout using your dimensions and objects you want to include. Follow the directions to select your basic dimensions and drag and drop items in place. Free-draw items not among the ready-made objects. When finished, print your design. There is a save option in Classroom Architect; however, it only saves to the computer where you create the design. The site suggests taking a screen shot to paste into a document as the best option for saving.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): architecture (84), back to school (61), classroom management (145), Teacher Utilities (81)

In the Classroom

Save time and energy setting up your classroom with Classroom Architect. Tired of the same layout in your current classroom? Try something new using this site! Play around with different options and set up your room as you like. Save a copy for use when desks have been moved during parties, plays, cleaning, and other events. Share with students and have them create their own perfect learning environment. Then use their ideas as a writing prompt explaining why they designed the classroom the way that they did! Use this activity as math practice with measurement and graphing/proportion. Use this tool as a way to refresh your classroom for a new semester or unit. Allow student groups to design the layout for each quarter of the year.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Random Name Picker - Russel Tarr

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 0  Comments
 
When it seems the same students always volunteer with answers and help, try the Random Name Picker. Get your entire class involved using this colorful "game-like" tool. This colorful...more
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When it seems the same students always volunteer with answers and help, try the Random Name Picker. Get your entire class involved using this colorful "game-like" tool. This colorful wheel clicks when you spin. It cheers when you land on a name. The site uses HTML5 so it will work on iPads as well as laptops and PCs. There is no registration required. Input the names, save your lists with a password, and embed the Picker into your blog or website. You can even get a QR code. You also have the option to remove a name from the wheel once you have used it. For safety, use first names only!

tag(s): classroom management (145), Teacher Utilities (81)

In the Classroom

The obvious use for this tool is for selecting students to answer a question or do an activity. Other uses could include forming groups/pairs or creating seating charts. Allow students to use it when it's time to choose the next student. Instead of names, enter activities for P.E., rainy day recess activities, the next book your class will read together, or anything where you need to make a choice. You may want to save one wheel as a template when you know you'll be selecting several students. That way you can remove names from the list on the wheel you are using, but will have the original for the next time.

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HelloSign - Joseph Walla

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Obtain and send signatures on documents with HelloSign. This service allows you to email documents and receive legally binding signatures through email and other services. The free...more
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Obtain and send signatures on documents with HelloSign. This service allows you to email documents and receive legally binding signatures through email and other services. The free service permits three per month. HelloSign also syncs with DropBox, Box, Evernote, and SkyDrive. Sign up using your email or Google account then follow steps on the Getting Started link. Upload documents from your computer or allowed services to edit and sign, add a message and recipients then send. Send up to three free documents per month with a free account. There is the option for a 30-day free trial period of some of the premium features, however, this review is only for the "always" free features.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (170), organizational skills (107)

In the Classroom

Use HelloSign to obtain parent signatures on IEP's, behavior notices, and more when parents are unable to physically sign documents. Have administrators send evaluation documents for teacher signatures electronically. Use anytime a signature is required without having to mail documents or have the signer present. You will, of course, want to be sure that a "clever" student is not doing the signing for his or her parents! Make sure to verify email addresses through a phone call or other means.

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Remind - Remind 101

Grades
K to 12
12 Favorites 1  Comments
Remind is a safe and easy way to send reminders to students and parents via text message or email. When sending a text, the site is set up so that ...more
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Remind is a safe and easy way to send reminders to students and parents via text message or email. When sending a text, the site is set up so that students & parents do not see the teachers' phone numbers nor do the teachers see the students' phone numbers. Create an account. Any phone that can receive text messages will receive these. Communication through this site is safe and secure. You only see the names of your students, not their phone number, and they only see your name -- not your cell phone number. With Remind you can schedule reminders for the future, translate your message into 70 languages, send photos, PDFs, voice clips, and see who has read your messages.Be sure to obtain parental permission FIRST, as standard messaging rates apply.

tag(s): chat (45), DAT device agnostic tool (170), microblogging (28), Teacher Utilities (81)

In the Classroom

Set up accounts for all your classes, and even your extracurricular activities, to send homework, project, and supply reminders. Remind students of upcoming events, practices, or things they need to bring to class or practice. You could also use this to communicate with parents (allow them to sign up for text message updates at back to school night). Share this site the first week of school to save time throughout the entire year. Remind parents of big tests, report cards, field trips, deadlines, back to school night, sneaker days, conferences, and more. Set up a faculty reminder group within your school for emergency closures and more.

Comments

Love this site! I'm using it to send reminders to students about overdue library books and/or fines! Terri, VA, Grades: 9 - 12

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Brief.ly - Brief.ly

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Brief.ly is a simple way to share a "bundle" of links at the same time. Enter up to 30 links and captions you want to share (one per line or ...more
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Brief.ly is a simple way to share a "bundle" of links at the same time. Enter up to 30 links and captions you want to share (one per line or click the wrench for more options). Brief.ly will generate a unique URL. When opened, a Table of Contents page lists the sites included. When you open the bundle, each site appears and tabs appear along the top of the page that allow you to easily jump from one recommended site to the next. This site is very easy to use and helpful for all ages, as long as they can read. With your membership, you can edit the contents of your list later, without resending it or changing the single link.

tag(s): bookmarks (54), organizational skills (107)

In the Classroom

Brief.ly is a lifesaver for every classroom, teacher, or school. Whenever you are sharing multiple sites at centers, during small or whole group presentations, or even sites gathered for a research projects, Brief.ly takes away frustration and saves time! Save different content areas, subjects, or study links in one simple click. Gather all grade level websites on your school webpage, and list all classes. Unclutter your own class webpage or blog with just a few links. Sending links to parents or colleagues could not be any easier! Collaboration within classes, groups, or home is a snap! Improve organization for yourself and your class. As students work on group projects, they can share their link list easily. Use a class account so students do not have to register, and you can watch what they are using for sources.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Teachit Timer - teachit.co.uk

Grades
K to 12
15 Favorites 1  Comments
TeachIt Timer is an online alternative to the traditional countdown or stopwatch timer. This free online timer displays a countdown timer and a count-up timer at one time. The most...more
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TeachIt Timer is an online alternative to the traditional countdown or stopwatch timer. This free online timer displays a countdown timer and a count-up timer at one time. The most incredible feature is that it allows you to schedule a series of up to eight timed alarms. There are also eight choices of sounds from whistles to bells to barking. Launch the timer right from your screen or download it to your computer to have easy access.

tag(s): classroom management (145), organizational skills (107)

In the Classroom

There are many uses for this practical online tool. At the beginning of the school year, display on your interactive whiteboard or projector to time or count down any classroom activity. That will get the students in the habit of checking how much time they have left. Project the time TeachIt Timer while students take a test, solve a drag and drop, practice speeches, rotate between learning centers, or join cooperative learning groups. Be sure to turn up the volume! When rotating between centers or taking turns in a cooperative learning group, schedule the time sequence to keep everyone on track.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

Comments

Great timer resource to use with visual students. Melissa, , Grades: 0 - 5

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Down For Everyone Or Just Me? - downforeveryoneorjustme.com

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
Are you trying to reach a website, and it just isn't working? Down For Everyone Or Just For Me provides a quick answer. Enter the url for the site you ...more
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Are you trying to reach a website, and it just isn't working? Down For Everyone Or Just For Me provides a quick answer. Enter the url for the site you are checking (such as google.com) and click "or just me?" to find out. The result will tell you if it is just you or if there is a network outage. There is no registration required! This is especially handy to help diagnose partial Internet outages such as when your Internet provider cannot reach a site, but the REST of the world can ... or if your school's filter is blocking the site.

In the Classroom

Add Down For Everyone Or Just For Me to your bookmarks for quick and easy checks when websites won't connect. Share a link on your class website or blog for students to find and easily use this tool at home.

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calmCounter - James Barrett

Grades
K to 8
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Keep track of the noise level in your classroom using the calmCounter "Calmness Counter." This colorful tool is simple to set up and use. Hook up a microphone and watch ...more
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Keep track of the noise level in your classroom using the calmCounter "Calmness Counter." This colorful tool is simple to set up and use. Hook up a microphone and watch the calmCounter respond to the noise level in your classroom. This is a concrete way to quantify noise level needed for goal setting and behavior (sound) management. Even the young can understand this tool's "thermometer."

tag(s): classroom management (145), music theory (44), sound (106), Teacher Utilities (81)

In the Classroom

Share calmCounter at the beginning of the school year with a projector or your interactive whiteboard. Have your class practice different noise levels and come to an agreement about where the thermometer should be for different activities. Display calmCounter on your interactive whiteboard or projector during your troublesome, noisy times: centers, indoor recess, or group work. If you have an autistic or noise sensitive student, calmCounter can help your class become more aware of their noise levels. In music class, use to aid students in understanding dynamics in written music such as pianissimo, mezzo forte, and forte. During your science unit on sound, use calmCounter to show a rudimentary measurement of different types of sound.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Online Voice Recorder - 123apps

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Just as the name says, Online Voice Recorder allows you to record your voice from your computer and save the file. With no membership required, this is a free and ...more
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Just as the name says, Online Voice Recorder allows you to record your voice from your computer and save the file. With no membership required, this is a free and simple recording treasure! Simply push the record button and follow screen prompts to ALLOW the application access to your computer's microphone. Talk as long as desired. Then listen to the recorded playback. Trim and edit the length using easy sliders as desired. Save your finished version in mp3 format using the link.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): fluency (24), preK (281), speech (86), spelling (165)

In the Classroom

Have students practice spelling words orally, record speeches, practice reading fluency, and much more using Online Voice Recorder. After recording, allow students to listen to the playback and reflect upon the quality of their work. Do before and after recordings of students to share with parents during conferences to demonstrate reading progress. Have students record weekly summaries for what has happened in your class to share on your class website or blog (you will have to upload the files). Record weekly or daily homework assignments and share as a voice recording on your website. Save file space by replacing old files with new ones. Online Voice Recorder would be an excellent resource for recording and sharing more complicated directions for projects and assignments (adding you voice intonation and cues!). Your weaker readers and ESL/ELL students may do better with a combination of written AND auditory directions. Provide the link on your class website for students to use at home for additional practice in spelling, reading, practicing reports, and more. Share this site with parents at Back to School Night. Have students write and record audio book reviews others can play on iPads in the school library. If you have gifted students in your classroom, this tool is simple enough for even the youngest to be able to record audio mini-dramas portraying a historic figure, poetry readings, and more. Be sure to show them how to NAME and download the files to the local computer! Anything they can say out loud can become a creative project recording. Don't forget about recording musical performances or practices.

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Rewordify - Neil M. Goldman

Grades
4 to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Rewordify helps you understand what you read. Paste any text or website into the box to rewordify the text into simpler language. Easier to understand words replace difficult text shown...more
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Rewordify helps you understand what you read. Paste any text or website into the box to rewordify the text into simpler language. Easier to understand words replace difficult text shown with highlighting. Click on the highlighting to view the original, more difficult word(s). View excellent student and teacher demonstrations showing how to use the website. You have the option to choose how Rewordify displays the results using the options in the settings. Several options allow for easy personalization of results.

tag(s): reading comprehension (131), vocabulary (301), vocabulary development (114)

In the Classroom

This site is a must for saving and bookmarking for classroom use! Start the school year out by posting the link to Rewordify on your class website for student and parent access from home. Be sure to share with learning support and ESL/ELL teachers and students. Be sure to share a link on your classroom website and parent newsletter for use at home. Save a link to Rewordify on classroom computers for students to easily paste text from any website to read in a simpler format. Copy and paste any difficult text into Rewordify and display on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to enhance student understanding or show meaning in complex texts. Have students guess meanings from context clues in the more complex version, then share the "rewordified" view to test their guesses. Have students create a word cloud of difficult words identified using a tool such as Wordle (reviewed here), Tagxedo (reviewed here), or WordItOut (reviewed here). Have students take a screen shot of passages that have been "rewordified" to share and discuss.
 

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Happy Class - David Cole

Grades
K to 6
5 Favorites 0  Comments
HappyClass is a FREE automatic classroom seating chart maker. HappyClass creates charts in minutes based on your students' needs and relationships. Type or paste your class roster into...more
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HappyClass is a FREE automatic classroom seating chart maker. HappyClass creates charts in minutes based on your students' needs and relationships. Type or paste your class roster into the website and configure the virtual desks to look like your physical classroom. The contextual menu provides options to make sure relationship factors are prioritized as well as student needs (like front or back of the room). Need a student to stay in the same seat? Pin them to the seat (not literally of course!). Edit each student's unique needs at any time as your students change throughout the year. The happiness indicator automatically determines if the student is sitting in an ideal situation. A smiley face means all is well, a so-so face means it could work, and an uh-oh face means the current seating configuration could lead to a negative classroom environment. Seating chart results are immediate with one click of a button. Not happy? Generate a completely new configuration with another click. Print your chart in a snap for your lesson plan book. The free version (Lite) includes an unlimited number of students in one editable class roster and one room setup at a time. You can add, edit or delete students, rearrange the room, or change relationships and needs of that one class over and over. The freebie limits make this well suited for self-contained classes, not teachers who see different classes throughout the day.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): back to school (61), charts and graphs (203), classroom management (145), gamification (82), Teacher Utilities (81)

In the Classroom

HappyClass is a great site to make sure seating preferences in IEPs /504 plans are met even before the first day of school. Create differentiated cooperative learning groups throughout the day in seconds. Printing charts is quick and easy. Change the configuration of your room by dragging and dropping desks. Clear the chart and start from scratch. More time to focus on instruction! Save this in your "back to school" online files!

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Printable Paper - printablepaper.net

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 0  Comments
Download and print many types of papers easily from Printable Paper. Lose the excuse, "I don't have any graph (or other) paper!" Choose from popular types such as lined paper ...more
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Download and print many types of papers easily from Printable Paper. Lose the excuse, "I don't have any graph (or other) paper!" Choose from popular types such as lined paper (college or wide rule), several forms of graph paper, letter templates, and much more. Use the categories listing to find specific options to narrow your search such as different forms of penmanship paper, score sheets, or music papers. There are even several different comic page templates and storyboard templates for storytelling or story mapping. Click on any paper image to download in PDF format. A special heading for teacher resources includes lesson plan paper and more. The specialty papers include doorhanger patterns to decorate and cut out. Don't miss the printable games.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): charts and graphs (203), comics and cartoons (58), handwriting (19), letter writing (18), musical notation (37), preK (281)

In the Classroom

This site is a must bookmark for classroom use. Use anytime you need graph paper, writing paper, music sheets, etc. Share a link on your classroom website for student use at home. Share this site with parents at Back to School Night. Share this site with older students the first week of school. Now there is no excuse for not doing homework because of not having the correct type of paper! Some of the papers have alternate uses, such as using quilting graph paper to create and study geometric shapes.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Proofread Grammar Base - GrammarBase.com

Grades
4 to 12
3 Favorites 1  Comments
Proofread Grammar Base is an instant grammar check program. Paste any text into the box to view errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, style, or plagiarism. Results display listing...more
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Proofread Grammar Base is an instant grammar check program. Paste any text into the box to view errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, style, or plagiarism. Results display listing the number and type of errors. This site does not correct the errors for you. Errors are also underlined in your document. Make corrections, then choose to check again until all corrections are complete.

tag(s): grammar (205), plagiarism (35), spelling (165)

In the Classroom

Use Proofread Grammar Base on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to demonstrate grammar and spelling mistakes and proper corrections. Share with students as a resource for editing and proofing written work. Proofread Grammar Base does not provide corrections, so that is left up to you (or your students) to come up with the proper edits on their own. Start using Proofread Grammar Base at the beginning of the school year and have students keep track of the type of errors they make. This way you can see when you need to teach a whole class mini lesson for a particular grammar concept.

Comments

It will check for mistakes, but the report that goes with it appears to be only a free trial. Deborah, VT, Grades: 7 - 12

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Chart Jungle - Wendy Shepherd

Grades
K to 4
1 Favorites 0  Comments
Find and print many useful charts at Chart Jungle. Topics include story starters, homework charts, reading logs, and more. Chart Jungle also includes alphabet and number flash cards...more
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Find and print many useful charts at Chart Jungle. Topics include story starters, homework charts, reading logs, and more. Chart Jungle also includes alphabet and number flash cards to print and use. Other interesting printables include the digestive system, clocks, and skeletons. Choose any chart to print directly from your computer. Although this site does include a lot of advertisements, there are many timesavers and treasures.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): charts and graphs (203), classroom management (145), flash cards (39), handwriting (19), homework (38), organizational skills (107), presidents (134), printables (39), time (138)

In the Classroom

Use Chart Jungle as a resource for charts for use throughout the school year. Familiarize yourself with this site at the beginning of the school year. Use the reading chart for students to record the minutes spent reading at home. Use the homework charts to help your students stay organized. Share the flash cards link with parents to use at home.

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UnShortenMe - Unshort.me

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
This tool reveals full urls for links that have been shortened using URL shortener tools (like bit.ly, tinyurl.com and others). Many of the URLs created by the shortening sites are...more
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This tool reveals full urls for links that have been shortened using URL shortener tools (like bit.ly, tinyurl.com and others). Many of the URLs created by the shortening sites are blocked by school content filters (because the shortener websites are actually blocked). Try un-shortening the URL with this tool to access the content and to know what you are headed for! Enter the URL and click the button. Shortened urls can also hide undesirable content, so seeing the "real" url can prevent embarrassment such as opening something unexpected in front of others.

tag(s): browser (9), internet safety (122)

In the Classroom

Use this to access sites especially those shared with your PLN through RSS or Twitter. Many times, the original link is not blocked but the shortened URL is because of the shortener service's url. Save this tool in your favorites to access when needed.

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WishyBox - WishyBox.com

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
Organize an online wishlist. Create an account using your Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or Windows Live login, then begin creating a list. Add items including links to any website for purchase....more
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Organize an online wishlist. Create an account using your Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or Windows Live login, then begin creating a list. Add items including links to any website for purchase. Organize using the drag and drop features on the site. Make your list private or share with family, friends, or the world. Gift purchases are not shared with the owner of the list, only family or friends, thus keeping the surprise of gift giving alive!

tag(s): service projects (22)

In the Classroom

Parents often want to donate items to classrooms or schools but may not know what is needed. Create a WishyBox list for your classroom so others can share the joyful gift of learning! This is a great tool to share at Back to School Night! Make a list of books needed for your classroom library, items needed for classroom centers, extra supplies, etc. Share with your Parent Teacher Organization as a resource for creating a wish list for items for the school library, playground, or any other school items. Use this site for a community service project for your classroom. Create a WishyBox list for a family in need in your community and have students bring in items to donate. Use WishyBox as a real world way to extend the gift of giving!

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