Creating ePubs in the Music Classroom

Book Creator is one of my favourite apps to use in my music classroom.

One of the advantages to using a general classroom app in music lessons is that the students already know how to use the app and therefore most times I do not have to spend time teaching them all the skills needed. On the flip side I have also worked together with their classroom teacher by introducing the recording side of the app in my classes while they have already learnt to write, type and insert images in class.

One activity my students love to do with Book Creator is make their own ePubs.

Below are 3 examples from my classroom that has served different purposes.

Whole Class ePub ‘The Animals in the Class’

First we looked at, and sang along to, a few nursery rhymes and songs that had been written into books e.g. The Wheels on the Bus, I’m a Little Teapot,  Old McDonald Had a Farm.

Next we rewrote our own version of The Wheels on the Bus using the title of ‘The Animals in the Class’.

Each student wrote and illustrated their own page on a piece of paper. Then in groups with a shared iPad, they inserted a photo of each students’ illustration on a separate page in Book Creator, adding their name. Next their group helped each person record using the ‘Add Sound’ audio tool in Book Creator, singing and playing instruments to their verse.

Each of the group Book Creator ePubs were then airdropped to my iPad and merged together into one class ePub.

Here is the result which they were extremely proud of:

Instrument Families ePub

To learn about the instrument families, My Year 1 (6 year old) students created an ePub showing each instrument family and recorded what each family sounds like.

Since the latest Book Creator update allows GarageBand files to be imported directly into a Book Creator page, this enabled my students to record their own track for each family using the virtual instruments in GarageBand and then inserting it onto the relevant page.img_1702

To save time I created a template for my students with the instrument family images already inserted and sent this to each child via airdrop.






I stepped the students through recording in GarageBand and then sending the soundtrack to Book Creator, inserting it as a button.

The students also took a screenshot of their GarageBand recording and inserted this from the camera roll.

Here is an example of their work.

Artist Project

One project I have done with my Year 6/7 classes is to review a song from their favourite artist.

The students inserted the lyrics of the song and then the song itself from their iTunes music.

The final task was to write a reflection on the meaning of the song, those that struggled with writing used video or audio to record their reflection instead.

Here is an example:

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Book Creator has allowed me to transform previous paper, pen and oral presentation activities into interactive projects, capturing my students performances into ePubs, creating an archive we can keep for years to come.

I hope these examples from my classroom inspire you to use Book Creator in your teaching too.



Teach to transform!


Gathering Video Assessment for Reporting

It’s that time of year again in Australian Schools with mid year reports due.

Now that I have finished and sent mine through, I would like to share with you how I use video observations to help me with my assessment.

Taking video footage in the classroom is really easy now that we have it readily available on iPads, iPods, phones and cameras. I have found that since taking footage of my students it is so much easier to assess, and I feel a lot more confident in the evidence I have gathered to back up my assessment grade.

There are 2 ways I gather video assessment in the classroom:


I record using either my iPad or iPhone and keep this for assessment.

This is an example from my Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 classes tapping rhythms using their magic wands (pop sticks with foam stars glued to them) and pipe cleaner notation.

This example is from my Year 6/7 class playing their arrangement on their own coded music instrument apps in Hopscotch


I ask my students to record themselves, or a partner records them on their iPad.

The files are sent to me via Airdrop or Dropbox.

Sometimes we combine this footage  in a Digital Portfolio using Book Creator or Explain Everything for parents to view.


This example is a Year 4/5 class creating a recorder portfolio.

Gathering video footage as evidence for assessment allows you

  • the flexibility to assess in your own time rather than grading on the spot
  • to view the students performance multiple times, especially helpful when there is more than one student in the performance
  • to review your original assessment for final reporting grades
  • to provide the evidence for parents if they question your assessment.

Are there activities that you can assess via video in your classroom?



Teach to transform!


List of Creative Commons Commercials


My current unit of inquiry with my Year 6/7’s is Media and Advertising, looking at the music in TV commercials.

I have created this blog so I don’t have to send my students to Youtube to search for Creative Commons commercial videos to use in their composing project.

Below are a few different type of examples I found. Where there is attribution information I have added it under the video.

To find more creative commons videos use ‘creative commons’ in your Youtube search term.

Look at the information below the video in Youtube (select ‘show more’) to view the type of creative commons license.

Or use this website:

Argos Christmas Advert 2015 – #JustCantWait


Published on Nov 6, 2015

The Argos Christmas Advert 2015. Immerse yourself in a world of colour, excitement and energy with the Argos Christmas ad, #JustCantWait for Christmas. Get free Same Day Delivery when you spend £50, or collect in store in as little as 60 seconds with Fast Track. Go Argos.

Argos TV Advert – Fast Track Collection

Published on Nov 6, 2015

Get set for new Argos FastTrack Collection! Now buy online and collect your order from Fast Track counters in store. We’ll have it ready in as little as 60 seconds. Go Argos.

Nike Hypervenom : Mirrors ft. Neymar Jr. (Nike Commercial 2014)

Published on Mar 15, 2016

As Neymar Jr. readies himself to return to the pitch, Nike has teamed up with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy once again for a new commercial entitled “Mirrors”.

Starring the Brazilian forward, the spot focusses on the the new Hypervenom boots that he’ll be playing in this season and draws upon Neymars ability to trick the opposing team’s defence. “This is Neymar Jr. in his Hypervenom boots,” says Nike. “This is what it’s like to try to stop him.” The Hypervenom Phantom is now available at Nike.

Directed by Johnny Green

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, USA
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Copywriter: Dylan Lee
Art Director: Bertrand Fleuret
Producer: Jeff McDougal
Agency Executive Producer: Matt Hunnicutt
Visual Effects: Dan Williams
Agency Producers: Jessica Staples, Endy Hedman
Production Company: Reset
Director: Johnny Green
Editors: Kirk Baxter, Scot Crane
Post Production Producer: Sean Costelloe
Music: Wu-Tang Clan with Kool G Rap

Easy Egg Advert

No details provided


Winx Club – Sirenix Dolls Commercial! Portuguese!

Winx Club™ created by Iginio Straffi © 2003-2014 Rainbow S.r.l. and Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved.

Design a Friend from Chad Valley – Available at Argos

Dress her, style her, be her friend. The DesignaFriend collection available only at Argos.

Chad Valley Summer and Winter Dolls House – As seen on TV.

The Summer Winter Dolls house offers two styles of play. On one side the house is full of warm colours with a summery background and on the other there are chilly icicles and frozen looking walls! These two contrasting themes will spark imaginative stories as your little one learns through play.

Danette Raffle TV Commercial Ad Iran 2014 (Danone)


Published on May 6, 2014

A Production of “FINAL TARGET” Production House. 2014

Director: Reza Milani
D.O.P: Hosein Jalili
Production Manager: Meysam Kaed
Creative Director & Copywriter: “EAMA NAGHSHINEH” Creative Team.
Amir Shahrabi. Alireza Soltani. Parisa Torabi. Shahrokh Moeini
Set & Costume Design: Farnoush Rangamiz Naieeni (Performed by Shahnam Rezayi)
Directors Asst. Casting & Arrangement: Mehdi Bahmani. Baharan Bani Ahmadi
3D Animation & CG: Majid Khademian
Video Edit: Amir mohsen Salmanizadeh , Ami Rad
Composer: Ashkan Dabbagh
Special thanks to all of the cast & crew & Final Target Client Service Dept.



Teach to transform!


Music and Media Advertising Unit of Inquiry – Best TV commercials for 2015

This post was written for my Year 6/7 class so that I could provide them with TV commercials to view in one place without sending them to Youtube. Feel free to use it as a resource with your students too.

Central Idea:

Media has the power to influence thinking and behaviour.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • The influence of music as a form of media.
  • The ways music connects with an audience.

Key Concepts:

  • Perspective
  • Responsibility
  • Form

Your Tuning In Task:

We Are Learning To:

Analyse how music connects with an audience using the elements of music to influence our thinking, emotions and behaviour.

What I am Looking For:

A description of how elements in the music make you feel, why you think the music evokes this response and what was the intent for this choice of music.

This Is Because:

Media has the power to influence thinking and behaviour.

Here are 7 of the best adverts for 2015.

Download this Word Document and open in Pages. Music&MediaAdvertising_TI_task

As you watch the adverts, record your response in the document.

Use these musical elements to help describe the music:

Tempo – fast/slow

Dynamics – loud/soft

Pitch – high/low

Tone Colour – the use of certain instruments or sounds

Texture – thin/thick, layers of sound

Form – sections, change in music, repeating sections

Style – a specific style of music chosen for a purpose

Ribena: You Can’t Get Any More Ribenary

A creative advert for the blackcurrant Ribena drink.

Android: Friends Furever

Pairs of different animals playing/roaming together. “Be together. Not the same.”


Nike: Short a Guy

Follows a normal kid through a series of games with professional athletes because they are all “short one guy”.


Atlantic Group: 37 Days

Electric heaters advertised by growing a garden in a glass room 8000 feet above sea level surrounded by -30 temperatures in British Columbia. Melting ice reveal seeds and garden beds, hibernating butterflies and vegetation which grows into a garden after 37 days.


Comcast Xfinity: Emily’s Oz

Comcas Xfinity is a verbal guide for people with visual disabilities. The Advert is a visual representation of a blind girl’s explanation to what she sees when watching the Wizard of Oz.

Lexus: Beyond Utility

Talks about their advertising campaign.


Dove: Choose Beautiful

An experiement by Dove where women had to choose between walking through the Beautiful Door and the Average Door. #Choosebeautiful


Answer this question:

How does music influence and connect with the audience?


Australian Curriculum:

Explain how the elements of music communicate meaning by comparing music from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music (ACAMUR091)

Analyse composers’ use of the elements of music and stylistic features when listening to and interpreting music (ACAMUR097)


Coding Music Instrument Apps in Hopscotch & Tynker

Why should we bring coding into the music room?

Because not only is it cross curricular and ticking the STEAM methodology of teaching, it is also asking our students to think about the fundamentals of music. What is it we need to consider when making an instrument? Pitch, melody, and/or beat, rhythm, tempo and tone colour.


hopscotchThe best iPad apps I found for coding music apps is Hopscotch and Tynker. Hopscotch is a simple coding program with limitations on design and sound files and its userface is unique to itself. Tynker is a bit more like Scratch with it’s userface and coding blocks and has more options in the ability to design and create and more sound files are available. Both apps still give enough scope to create both a melodic and percussion musical instrument and an authentic unit of work covering these objectives:

Knowledge: Musical instruments are invented and designed to play the pitch, melody, and/or beat, rhythm, tempo, tone colour.

Skills: Code a music instrument which, when tapped, changes its look in some shape or form and includes more than one sound/tone/note.

Summative Task 1:

Play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together as a class, each student playing on a correctly coded melodic instrument matching the Boomwhacker notes and colours.

Twinkle TwinkleBoomwhacker _sample

Hopscotch example


Boomwhacker Piano

Boomwhacker Spin Piano Note Names

Tynker example

Boomwhacker Piano


Summative Task 2:

In groups, arrange a composition to perform a simple song using your own coded musical instrument app in an iPad Band.

Hot Cross Buns_4 part arrangement_Sample

Hopscotch examples


Hopscotch Hot Cross Buns Performance

Check out some Hopscotch instrument apps my students have created and yours can too!

Piano and Percussion App

Tap the squares to play the piano, tap the circles to play percussion/abstract sounds (N.B. this project is best played in the iPad app as it does not play so well in a web browser due to its complexity)


Sound Effects Pad App


Tap the emoji images to play the abstract percussion sounds (plays fine in a browser)

Drag to Play App


Drag the parrot on top of images to play sounds (plays fine in a browser)

Tynker examples


Tynker Hot Cross Buns Performance

Check out some Hopscotch instrument apps my students have created and yours can too!

Animal Sounds


Touch the animals to play the sounds

Winter Wonderland Percussion App


Touch the animals & objects to play the sounds


Purchase this Unit of Work from my

Music Room Tech series


  • Hopscotch Instructions (Tynker coming soon)
  • IB Unit of Inquiry
  • Australian Curriculum links
  • Step by step visual instructions
  • Charts
  • Scores
  • Arrangement worksheets

Have a go at coding instruments in your music classroom.


Teach to transform!




21 iPad Apps for the Music Classroom: General Education and Music Specific

apps for the music room

Your school has purchased a class set of iPads or implemented a 1-1/BYOD structure, so which apps should you deploy or ask your students to purchase?

The following 21 apps are the ones that I have found over the past 4 years to be of great value in my classroom (Kinder-Grade 7) and is my current app deployment list for 2016. This list varies from year to year depending on my program.

seussBandDr. Seuss Band by Oceanhouse Media $1.49

Used for: practicing playing rhythms along with music


RealXylophoneReal Xylophone by Gismart (google and app store adds) – free

Real Xylophone by Gismart without adds $2.99

Used for: exploring all the different types of xylophones, also is an inter-app audio app for Garage Band


percussionsPercussions by CRIMSON TECHNOLOGY, Inc $5.99

Used for: virtual percussion instruments that can be played multiple different ways


Rainbow Music Notes by Tie Zhong $1.49RainbowMusicNotes

Used for: learning note names



YPGOrchestraYoung Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten by The Britten-Pears Foundation – free

Used for: information instrument families and the orchestra


madpadMadPad HD – Remix Your Life by Smule $ 4.49

Used for: creating your own live and recorded loop music


garageBandGarageBand – free

Used for: playing and recording music

Check out these blog posts for some of the projects I have done


Novation Launchpad by Novation – freenovation_launchpad

Used for: creating loop music and record directly into GarageBand via inter-app audio


propellerheadFigure by Propellerhead Software AB – free

Used for: creating loop music and record directly into GarageBand via inter-app audio


GrooveMaker 2 FREE by IK Multimedia – freeGroovemaker

Used for: creating loop music and record directly into GarageBand


yellofierYellofier by Boris Blank $4.49

Used for: creating music using matrix format is also an inter-app audio app.


The following apps are generic education apps. I use then to techify my music activities and to display work samples, research and project work and sharing/gathering files. The best part about using generic education apps is that often the classroom teacher has already taught the students how to use these apps so you don’t have to do this, saving you time!

showbieShowbie – Paperless Classroom by Showbie Inc. – free or purchase upgrade for extra tools

Used for: gathering student work, assessing work, providing resources to the students, communicating with students.


Pages – freepages

Used for: presenting research and projects


iMovie – freeimovie

Used for: recording soundscapes, presenting music, filmscoring

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


Explain Everything™ Interactive explaineverythingWhiteboard by Explain Everything – $5.99

Used for: digital portfolios, gathering student work, assessing work, providing resources to the students

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


Book Creator by Red Jumper Limited – $7.99book-creator-icon-large

Used for: digital portfolios, gathering student work, assessing work, providing resources to the students

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


Popplet Lite by Notion – freepopplet

Popplet by Notion – $7.99


Used for: brainstorm presentation


inigma-qr-code-readeri-nigma QR Code, Data Matrix and 1D barcode reader by 3GVision – free

Used for: scanning QR Codes

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


DropboxDropbox by Dropbox – free

Used for: providing students with files, students uploading files for assessment

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


photodicePhoto Dice by MachWerx – free or $1.49 no adds

Used for: creating your own dice using music or notation images in your photo roll. A roll the dice to create rhythm patterns to compose or to play games like yahtzee, bingo etc.

Check out this blog post for some of the projects I have done


hopscotchHopscotch: by Hopscotch Technologies – free

Used for: coding virtual instruments, simple composing with Code.


I would love to hear about the apps you have found to be essential in your classroom



Teach to transform!



Adding Tech in the Music Classroom – Photo Dice App


I used to dread making custom dice for my classroom, unless you are lucky enough to have wooden cubes to paste pictures onto, one step on a cardboard template dice from a
student and there goes your fabulous creative lesson.

photodicePhoto Dice by MachWerx iPad app is now my answer to this problem!

I use Photo Dice for games and composing activities in my classroom.


AddingTech_yahtzee  AddingTech_Bingo


Add 5 dice to the screen and roll. Lock the dice you wish to keep and roll again.


Roll the dice and place a counter on the bingo card on the corresponding note.

Download Music Note Yahtzee Template: AddingTech_Yahtzee

Download Music Note Bingo Template: AddingTech_Bingo qrcodeMusicRoomTech_Yahtzee

Download MusicRoomTech_Yahtzee
dice (scan the QR code to download directly onto your iPad)


I also use Photo Dice to compose rhythms.

Add 4 dice to the screen (all with one beat notes/rests) and select roll.


  • Ask the students how many different combinations you can make from the dice
  • Write the rhythms down or use notation beat cards
  • Play each rhythm
  • Compose a 4 bar rhythm pattern by rolling 4 times
  • Add a percussion instrument dice, roll to select which instrument to play.
  • Have 6 groups of students, each with one of the instruments on the dice, roll to see who plays and what their rhythm will be.qrcodeMusicRoomTech_1beatnotes

Download MusicRoomTech_1beatnotes dice (scan the QR code to download directly onto your iPad)


How to use Photo Dice

Create Custom Dice

  1. Touch the settings cog in the bottom right corner
  2. Select Photo Dice
  3. Select Create New Photo Dice at the bottom of the screen
  4. Name your dice
  5. Select Done in top right corner
  6. Touch the grey squares and select Photo Library to insert an image saved there, or take a photo
  7. You can email the dice you have created by selecting Email Custom Dice at the bottom of the screen (see Sharing Dice below for ideas of sending the custom dice to your students)
  8. Select <settings and then back in the top left corner to return to the app

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Add dice to your screen

  1. Touch the 3 squares in the bottom left corner
  2. Touch the dice in the bar at the top of the screen, there is no limit to the number of dice.



  1. Touch Roll or shake your iPad
  2. If you have multiple dice you can lock one or more from rolling by touching on them, a circle will appear around the dice you have locked in place


Sharing Dice

In the Custom Photo Dice template screen you can email the custom dice to your students.

Since my students do not have email, I email it to myself. From my email I save the dice template to Dropbox or Google Drive and create a QR code with the shared link for my students to scan and then open the file in Photo dice.

I would love to hear some more ideas on how you use dice in your classroom.



Teach to transform!



Create your own MIDI musical instrument with Scratch and the Makey Makey


Coding is the new buzz word in primary education with many schools starting to teach it with the emphasis on teaching STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

It is also possible to add in the Arts, with new research showing  that teaching STEAM (STEM + the Arts) projects significantly impact learning.

Intrigued by this, I attended a workshop on coding in the classroom run by Stephanie Kriewaldt @stephkrie to see if I could add coding into my music classroom.

I was introduced to a computer and web-based program called Scratch, which is a simple coding program for use with students as young as Grade 3.



We were also shown the Makey Makey Invention kit, invented to be used as a fun, electronic circuit MIDI controller using conductive materials as the triggers for computer games.

Seeing the Makey Makey attached to fruit and controlling a very simple piano coded in Scratch (the fruit being the piano keys), I came away from this workshop enthused to write a 10 week unit of work for my Grade 6/7’s titled

SC_Makey Makey_FC_smallScratch Coding for the Music Room: Makey Makey Edition

as it would fit perfectly with their IB PYP classroom Unit of Inquiry on inventions.


I started by creating some projects in Scratch myself, connecting them with the Makey Makey, setting up stations around the room for students to investigate.


See the slideshow below.

We also talked about virtual instruments coded for use on iPad’s and computers and discussed how MIDI instruments are played.

Check out my Scratch  Percussion with Metronome project 


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I created a Scratch tutorial for my students to learn to code music sounds into scratch. Then sent them off on the summative assessment task to invent their own musical instrument, by coding a virtual instrument in Scratch and then inventing their own MIDI instrument to play their virtual Scratch instrument using the Makey Makey.

The result was fantastic, my students were extremely proud of their work, so much so that they wanted to share their projects with their parents and the school community on Graduation night. Below is a slideshow of my student’s projects:

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Scratch Coding for the Music Room: Makey Makey Edition

is part of my Music Room Tech series with Bushfire Press. It includes everything you need to teach, including tutorials, scratch project files and more.

View my introduction video below.



Teach to transform!



Scratch Coding for the Music Room- Makey Makey Edition

10 uses for Typedrummer in the classroom

Being a teacher who always looks for ways to creatively capture students attention, I was extremely excited two weeks ago when I found this awesome website which works on both computers and tablets


First I planned to use it as an introduction activity for my first music lesson of 2016, however during the lesson my students inquired, investigated and morphed the activity into a lot more, showing me the potential this website has for not only the music classroom but for use in other subjects as well.

Here are 10 ways to use Typedrummer, the first 9 are general classroom uses, number 10 is a classroom music lesson.

1. Welcome messages – I had this displayed on the data projector as students came in.



2. Spice Up boring content – The most boring time in the classroom is setting up your rules and boundaries at the beginning of the school year, this year I presented mine by typing each one in typedrummer.


3. Instruction List – type a list of instructions for students to follow.



4. Instruction step by step – type each instruction as students complete them, This I found to be an awesome tool for packing up instead of raising my voice above the noise of the class.


5. Names – teacher/students introduce themselves typing their name, investigate different combinations, first name, last name, full name.



6.  Answers – ask your students a question, ask them to answer it in typedrummer.



7.  Presenting a statement – maybe this is the answer to a question, the start of a presentation or the introduction for an exposition.


8. Spelling activity – change one phonogram at a time or practice your spelling words.


9. Question and Answer  – one student asks a question, the other answers. In this example it is a Maths question, note that type drummer does not have sounds attached to numbers, therefore the words need to be typed.


10. Music Lesson – investigate the different sounds and loop combinations created when typing letters and changing the text structure.

  • 1 letter, 2 letters or 3 letters
  • reverse the word


  • put each letter on a new line




Teach to transform!


Part 2: Planning IB PYP in the Specialist / Single Subject Classroom 2014 Overview

I have had some great feedback on my initial post about specialist/single subject music planning in an IB school. Apologies for not writing this one sooner.

This post is a wrap up of my programming in my 3rd year of teaching in an IB school. Please note I still see myself on a learning journey in my IB planning and each year I change it slightly as I begin to understand the inquiry method better, through professional conversations with people in my workplace and at conferences.

In 2014 I continued to plan linked UOI only where I saw an authentic link and the rest of my program was covered by the Stand Alone UOI running over the whole year.

There are units that went well and units that didn’t, as I’m sure occurs in your classroom too.

2014 was the first year I took part in Exhibition.

While there wasn’t an authentic link with the Central Idea or Lines of Inquiry, I helped my students to create one of their presentation pieces to show their learning over the Exhibition.

Music-Room-Book-7_COVERTo show what the students had learnt through Exhibition they rewrote the lyrics of the song Putting It Out There to reflect their understanding of the CI & LOI. The they arranged, played  and recorded all parts of the song into GarageBand, presenting this at their exhibition stalls on their iPads. We used an app called Explain Everything to create a Digital Portfolio, where the parents were able to read the lyrics, see a screen shot of their GarageBand project and play the song at the same time. The song is from Fairbairn, Leehy & O’Mara, 2011, Music Room: A developmental classroom music program, Book 7 –Upper Primary, Bushfire Press   

Here is an example of the project. 


To learn more about Digital Portfolios view my Digital Portfolios blog post.

My units are available for download below. Feel free to use them as a basis to help you plan.

A step by step guide to the Exhibition project is in the pipeline for publishing with Bushfire Press, stay tuned.

I will follow this post in a few weeks with a wrap up of 2015.



Teach to transform!



WLPS Reception PYP Music Overview 2014

WLPS Reception PYP Music Overview 2014








WLPS Music Year 1 Overview 2014_Page_1

WLPS Music Year 1 Overview 2014







WLPS Music 2 Overview 2014_Page_1

WLPS Music 2 Overview 2014




WLPS Music 3_4_5 Overview 2014

WLPS Music 3_4_5 Overview 2014





WLPS Music 6_7 Overview 2014

WLPS Music 6_7 Overview 2014





WLPS_Music_UOI_Form & Style_6_7_2014