Learning for Real

September 26, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Inspired by Aida (VIDEO)

There’s no better way to start the year than to be inspired by our professional counterparts from The Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center. From lighting, to set design and construction, to costume and makeup, singing and dancing, conducting the orchestra and being in the grand venue of the opera house, we were on […]

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September 5, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Ready to Learn New Things About Life

We begin the academic year with renewed energy and determination to discover our hidden gifts and talents and to use them in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves. On the final day of school in June, I met my incoming class. As always, I asked the students to write what they were thinking and feeling […]

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May 9, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

The Maze (VIDEO)

On a beautiful, sunny morning while on a retreat in Buckeystown, Maryland, I happened upon a magnificent labyrinth. Its circular stone path called to me. I had no choice but to enter. As I took my first step into the maze, I thought about my students and their challenging journey this school year. I decided […]

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May 2, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

The Art of Collaboration (VIDEO)

Merriam Webster defines collaboration as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” When stated as such, the act itself sounds relatively simple to achieve, yet most of us struggle in situations where we are expected to work together to accomplish a common goal. We see this everywhere . . . in […]

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January 25, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

On the Rink (VIDEO)

Though almost half of the class had never roller skated before, the company decided that the best setting for our opera story would be a skating rink. So, last week we went on a field trip to Wheels Skating Center in Odenton, Maryland. Owner and professional skater, Pam Muegge, welcomed us and opened her rink […]

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January 3, 2017 | Mary Ruth McGinn

What Really Matters? (VIDEO)

The goal is that each day will be purpose driven and meaningful in a way that engages and excites all students in the learning process. When we notice that much of our space is filled with the “silly, stupid things” that get in the way of learning, it’s time to step back and ask ourselves, […]

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November 22, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

A Letter to America (VIDEO)

The day after the election, my students wanted to talk. They wanted to tell me how they were feeling and what they were thinking. I listened. Then I encouraged them to write their thoughts in a letter to America. Below are excerpts from their writing. I am hopeful as I think about the future of […]

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October 31, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

The Island of Judgment and Criticism (VIDEO)

In education today, play and improvisation are often regarded as frivolous, fluff, a waste of time. In reality, they hold the key to learning and understanding the world around us. By creating an environment and simulating a situation to explore our opera theme of judgment, students bring to life an imaginary world by improvising a […]

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October 28, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Lyric Writing: A Collaborative Effort (VIDEO)

We are now in the process of introducing all jobs in the opera company. As a writer, a chief responsibility is composing song lyrics. Given a familiar story about fishermen from The Congo, small groups set to work crafting lyrics for an aria to be sung by one of the main characters, Benguela. Generally speaking, […]

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October 24, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

My Anger Dragon (VIDEO)

In talking with my students about living a great story, I simply asked, “What parts of our story can we control and what parts of our story are beyond our control?” Several shared that anger sometimes gets the best of them and they are not able to control it. For this reason, every day after […]

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