Learning for Real

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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October 3, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Discover the Music Inside: A Big Part of our Great Story (VIDEO)

We are Discover the Music Inside Kids Opera Company. After reflecting on the experiences we have shared since school began, the students were able to synthesize the metaphors, inspiring song lyrics, profound books and all we have lived together these last five weeks to arrive at their company name. It will surely serve us well […]

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September 18, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Others Matter (VIDEO)

Late Friday afternoon as the first week of school drew to a close, I asked company members what they had learned over the five instructional days. Samir, who rarely contributed ideas during discussions and group sharing, raised his hand and responded, “Others Matter.” As hands shot up around the circle and students generated a comprehensive […]

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September 6, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Live a Great Story

On day one, I presented the incoming company members with the directive, Live a Great Story. I simply asked, “What does this mean to you?” Their responses, so authentic and introspective, launch our year-long journey of discovery. “Write my story.” ― Eugene “I want to live my life like a story, make it beautiful and […]

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June 20, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

Bigger Than Our Barriers (VIDEO)

Back in September, Take Off the Mask Kids Opera Company was invited to present its original opera on The Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. We knew then that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and that we must work hard and persevere to deliver […]

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May 26, 2016 | Mary Ruth McGinn

What I Want For My Kids

After a particularly difficult session in art class one day, where class behavior failed to meet the company’s expected protocol, I asked a question. What seemed to be a simple question, led to introspective thought about the future. “How many of you think you will have children when you grow up?” Almost every hand in […]

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