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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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photo of Digital Clock drawing- Manuela

Life…It’s No Digital Clock

We begin the year with a powerful metaphor suggested and defined on the first day of school. While gathered in our morning circle at the beginning of the day, I asked the students to tell me the time as we were determining how to proceed with our daily schedule. With this initial question, much is learned. Who looks at the clock and knows immediately the exact hour and minute of the day? Who looks at the clock with bewilderment? Who studies the clock carefully trying to figure it out? Who does not look at the clock at all? In this short period, a specific direction for classroom instruction began to take shape.

Jovan stated the time as 9:18. As with all questions posed, I asked Jovan to explain his thinking and show how he knows this is indeed the time. He headed to the back of the room, stood on a chair and pointed to the clock, beginning his explanation. Meanwhile, in the circle, Parker turned to me and whispered, “It would be easier with a digital clock.” Acknowledging this brilliant remark, I shared Parker’s thought with the newly formed opera company and asked, “Is school supposed to be easy?” Most shook their heads and said no. “Why not?” And a chorus answered, “We wouldn’t learn anything.” I thanked Parker for teaching us our first major lesson in class, in life.

The next day students were strategizing to find solutions for a problem in math. Someone grumbled, “This is hard.” Another replied, “It’s not supposed to be a digital clock.”

 
photo of Digital Clock- Kathryn page 1photo of digital clock -Kathryn page 2
 

photo of Digital Clock drawing- Manuela
photo of Digital Clock- Manuela Page 1photo of Digital Clock- Manuela page 2
 
photo of Digital Clock Drawing- Parker

photo of Digital Clock- Rayn Page 1photo of Digital Clock- Rayn page 2

photo of Digital clock drawing- Nebi

Easy will take you to nothing.  Hard will take you to learning lots of stuff.” – Janoah

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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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