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As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the... Read more

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All Aboard

Having an authentic field experience engages students on numerous levels. It shows how the work we do in our classroom translates and is applied to the real world. The purpose for everything we do is connected to something meaningful and real for students.

A trip to the train station brought to life our study of setting. We weren’t just reading books about train stations and looking at pictures and paintings, but getting an up-close, detailed tour of our very own Union Station in Washington, DC. Our tour guides, Michele, Debbie and Jamie dazzled us with stories about the history of the station and the trains that pass through everyday. We boarded the Acela, receiving a first class experience from all Amtrak personnel busy at work. One of our composers, Daylon, was invited to take a seat in the conductor’s chair. At the helm of all controls, Daylon rang the bell, turned on the windshield wipers and adjusted the side view mirrors.

The members of each job group huddled together during the tour, making notes of important information that could be useful in their respective jobs. From the unique perspectives of set design, music composition, lighting, costume, acting, writing and public relations, students were able to get design ideas for the opera and come to know this amazing historical building.

All aboard!!

We arrive to Union Station.

We arrive to Union Station.

Daylon takes over as conductor.

Daylon takes over as conductor.

Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company is invited to the Columbus Club.

Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company is invited to the Columbus Club.

We move through the station.

We move through the station.

Public Relations Officer Samantha gets addresses from Michele.

Public Relations Officer Samantha gets addresses from Michele.

We observe the main hall of Union Station.

We observe the main hall of Union Station.

We talk with Amtrak personnel out on the tracks.

We talk with Amtrak personnel out on the tracks.

Michele shares pictures from a special book about Union Station.

Michele shares pictures from a special book about Union Station.

Michele tells the history of the station.

Michele tells the history of the station.

Set Designer Sofía takes notes about the trains.

Set Designer Sofía takes notes about the trains.

Emmah, Angel and Katie relax on the Acela.

Emmah, Angel and Katie relax on the Acela.

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Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families.

Sixteen years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process of creating the opera as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning.

She currently teaches at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is creating another original opera with her third grade students.

Read more of Mary Ruth’s blog Learning for Real.

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