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As a teacher with 31 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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Strike ‘n Spare

What goes into determining the perfect title for our original opera? As company members ponder a catchy title that will grab the attention of the audience, they generate ideas based on the following criteria.

The title should entice audience members, evoking questions and thoughts about what will transpire on stage. It should capture the essence of our theme and thesis or central message without divulging too much of the story. The title should connect in some way to our setting and present a powerful metaphor on which to ruminate. Via paradox, play on words, alliteration or other literary element, a profound title emerges.

With various suggestions to consider, Harness the Stars was left to study all possibilities and come to consensus. They could select one of the ideas previously stated, or construct a new idea to present to the company. Either way, a plausible defense would be necessary to prove the title worthy. All were expected to be prepared for this decision making process, upon entering the classroom the next day.

Due to weather emergency, school was cancelled the following day. From home, as I sat sipping my morning coffee and working frantically on the computer to salvage the missed instructional day, I noticed a new entry for the title assignment on Google Classroom. Aedan, who had been silent in this workspace until now, offered an opera title and justified its relevance. As I considered his idea, I saw multiple possibilities to connect, reflect on and incorporate the criteria stated above.

First thing the next morning, I presented Aedan’s contribution to the company. Company members loved it. They discussed and defended it. They unanimously accepted it as the title for our opera.

Strike ‘n Spare

This snow day was indeed a productive one. Thank you, Aedan.

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Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 31 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. Eighteen 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 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. The profundity of the work, the transformation of the students and a desire to “bring to light” new ideas in education, inspired Mary Ruth to share this way of thinking and learning. In 2006 she was granted a Fulbright Scholarship, sponsored and funded by Teatro Real and Fundación SaludArte in Madrid, and a sabbatical from Montgomery County, to travel to Spain to develop and implement a similar program there. She lived there two years training teachers and working side by side with teachers and students in their classrooms. The reception of the project was overwhelming. Mary Ruth returns to Madrid every summer to train a new team of educators and artists in the process. In the summer of 2018, she joined forces with The Kennedy Center to offer the opera training for teachers in the Washington Metro area. She currently teaches third grade at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland Read more of Mary Ruth's blog Learning for Real.

Comments

One Response to “Strike ‘n Spare”

  1. Avatar
    On February 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm responded with... #

    Brilliant! I look forward to hearing more about this opera!

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