Press Released: 25 Aug 2015

OPERA America Launches National Opera Teacher and Educator Source

operaamerica.org/NOTES

New Online Platform Showcases Exemplary K–12 Opera Learning Materials From North American Opera Companies

OPERA America, the nonprofit service organization for opera, announces the launch of its National Opera Teacher and Educator Source (NOTES), which provides a wide range of lesson plans and professional expertise to busy educators in an easily accessible online format. NOTES (operaamerica.org/NOTES) builds on OPERA America’s nearly three decades of leadership in opera education and was made possible by generous support from the Hearst Foundations.

Free and open to everyone, NOTES brings together more than 100 lesson plans, study guides and supplementary teaching materials for incorporating opera into K–12 classrooms. This intuitive platform allows users to search the resources by opera title, grade level, subject area, time of project and other criteria. With features such as the ability for users to add comments about ways they have incorporated specific resources into their lesson plans, NOTES is an interactive, community-focused tool.

The resources within NOTES were provided by professional opera companies across North America and carefully curated by OPERA America, resulting in a diverse collection of materials that work in a variety of classroom settings. The contributing opera companies have extensive experience with school partnerships, serving thousands of classroom teachers and music specialists each year. In addition, OPERA America has also contributed two of its own Common Core-aligned lesson plans and three new videos that illustrate how the lesson plans may be carried out. New resources from additional opera companies will be added to NOTES on an ongoing basis, ensuring that the platform is relevant and valuable to the broadest array of users.

“Not only does NOTES help foster appreciation and understanding of opera in young people, but it encourages educators to incorporate opera into the broader learning arena. Opera can be used to bolster essential skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and reading comprehension,” stated OPERA America President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “We are deeply grateful to the Hearst Foundations for their support in bringing this project to life, and OPERA America looks forward to seeing NOTES become an essential resource for educators.”

By aggregating teaching materials from across North America in an easy-to-use online format, NOTES enables educators to access diverse and valuable resources at any time and from any place, overcoming barriers of cost, time and geography that limit existing opera learning programs. “Opera can be a game-changer in the classroom, and while thousands of teachers already enrich their classes with multidisciplinary learning and partnerships with opera companies, it can be a challenge for many to find high-quality, adaptable curriculum,” stated Leah D. Wilson, OPERA America’s director of learning and leadership. “Now, teachers can access the best opera learning resources no matter where they are.”

NOTES was developed in close consultation with curriculum specialists and both new and veteran school teachers, ensuring that the collection of resources would meet the needs of a wide spectrum of educators. Their input led OPERA America to focus on modular activities that are easily incorporated into classroom settings and that provide multiple entry points for learners. Many of the lesson plans also meet Common Core and National Core Arts Standards, and NOTES allows teachers to search specifically for these materials. Assessment tools and video demonstrations have been included to help teachers use the lesson plans to their fullest potential.

“I love the amount and quality of the resources,” stated Meredith Mooney, an elementary school music teacher in Manvel, Texas, who tested a beta version of NOTES. “It's such a wonderful and ambitious plan to gather resources from all over the country in one helpful place. I wish this site was available when I created an opera with my students last year; it would have made many aspects of introducing the project easier.”

Seanna Burke Silver, a music educator and specialist on Long Island who also tested NOTES, remarked, “There is nothing else like it for opera education. The approachable search criteria help educators know what to choose for their classrooms.” In reference to the lesson plans designed by OPERA America, she added, “These activities are great icebreakers for putting your classroom in a creative space.”

NOTES is the latest example of OPERA America’s 30 years of dedication to opera learning. In the 1980s, OPERA America developed the pioneering Music! Words! Opera! (M!W!O!) program, a series of textbooks and curriculum materials that empowers classroom teachers and their music colleagues to take a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the arts and guides students through creating their own opera productions. With the generous support of the Hearst Foundations, over the last 25 years, OPERA America has offered hundreds of M!W!O! professional training and development workshops for thousands of teachers across North America.

NOTES was created through the generous support of the Hearst Foundations.

Explore the NOTES platform at operaamerica.org/NOTES.

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