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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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Failure: A Poet’s Perspective

As we write our opera story and continue to explore the many sides of failure, we realize that we must find a way to break through the thoughts and feelings that hold us back and keep us from reaching our goals and being who we truly are.

Writing poetry gives us an outlet for releasing our deepest emotions. Oftentimes, when young children compose poetry, like all else, they look to models and examples of the genre for ideas in technique and style. The poems they read and hear recited are all they know. A rhyming element almost always finds its way into children’s verses. Unfortunately, when rhyming is at the center of composing for kids, it is often forced and superficial. When we are free to write words, phrases and verses without concern for specific technique, we get the real, raw expression of self.

(Insert writing here.)
David B

Failure is the light

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In teaching, we must always think about our purpose and keep it at the heart of all instructional decisions. Why read and write poetry? How will this benefit our students as they move through school and through life? These questions will drive us as educators to do what is best for our students.

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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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