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About Learning for Real

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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Breathing with Álvaro

During the school day there is little opportunity to slow down and breathe. We are moving so quickly from one task to another to satisfy the curriculum and maintain the daily schedule that the time to reflect and process what is happening throughout the day is often neglected.

Just after lunch and recess, we pause to calm our bodies and prepare our minds for the afternoon ahead. Álvaro, a piano composition written by a dear friend in Spain, Pedro Sarmiento, plays softly as we enter the room. Without a word, we lie on our backs, close our eyes and focus only on our breathing, inhaling the positive air and exhaling the negative. As if by magic, we are transformed and ready to get back to the work of the day.

Upon hearing this beautiful music for the first time, the students shared visual images that came to mind. Those images eventually found their way onto paper.

Listen. What do you hear? What do you see in your mind?

Alvaro drawing-Aedan

Aedan’s drawing

Alvaro writing-Aedan

Aedan’s thoughts

Alvaro drawing-Claudia

Claudia’s drawing

Alvaro writing-Claudia

Claudia’s thoughts

Alvaro drawing-Divyanshu

Divyanshu’s drawing

Alvaro writing-Divyanshu

Divyanshu’s thoughts

Alvaro drawing-Miguel

Miguel’s drawing

Alvaro writing-Miguel.

Miguel’s thoughts

Alvaro drawing-Rayn

Rayn’s drawing

Alvaro writing p.1-Rayn

Alvaro writing p.2-Rayn

Rayn’s thoughts

 

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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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