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Professional Development Workshops for Educators

Embrace the power

of drama and

creative writing

across the curriculum to expand student perspective, deepen understanding,  

and build empathy.  

"I took away endless tools to add to my teaching practice.  I felt safe imagining characters. I learned more about writing in this course than any other class when I actually used a pen."

Participant in "Standing in a Character's Shoes" Workshop

Project Zero Classroom 2018

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Arts Integration:

Construct and Demonstrate Understanding Through an Art Form 

Respond to the needs of your community.

Mary Hall's rich depth of source material offers presenters opportunities for authentic connection across cultures and communities.

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Social and Emotional Learning

Strengthen Students' Skills Along with Curricular Content

Discover how to excite students about writing and deeper reading through multi-layered activities that  build empathy through imagination. 

Present a Workshop

Many workshops now available as online learning. Contact me with your interest. 

Standing in a Character’s Shoes: Deeper Meaning Through Monologues

Presented at the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education Annual Meeting, the Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts, Harvard's Project Zero Classroom, and nationwide since 2010.

Explore ways to help students imagine, improvise, and write dramatic monologues that reveal the emotions beneath a character’s words—the subtext—and how those emotions change—the turning points. Look beyond the surface facts of a text, image, or event. Discover how questioning and inferring can enrich students’ empathy and deepen understanding of literary, historical, or imagined characters.

For teachers of Grades 3 – 5 and 6 - 12.     

90 minute  - 2 hour online synchronous session or 2 - 3 hour in-person session. 


New Workshop

Self-Awareness and Resilience

through Writing and Art

Presented in 2020-21 at the National Gallery of Art, the Washington International School, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Smith Center, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and more.

How might close looking at a work of art and reflective writing help our students build their social-emotional capacities? This workshop invites participants to "See, Feel, and Connect" with contemporary works of art to help name and navigate our emotional responses to an unknown. Participants will discover how creative writing, slow looking, and group reflection can deepen understanding of self and community and strengthen social and emotional skills during times of challenge and change.

Best for teachers of grades 4-12,

families and communities.

60 minute or 75 minute online synchronous session

90 minute or 2 hour in-person session.

New Workshop

Thinking with Emotions:
A Superpower for Learning

Presented in 2021 at the Artful Teaching Project, Juneau, Alaska, DC's Friendship Public Charter School 2021, Ohio's Kennedy Center Collaborative 2022, Utah's Learning Edge Conference 2022 and more.


A robust, fluent relationship with emotions is not only central to a child’s well-being; it is essential to their thinking and learning. Inspired by the innovative, joyful work of African American artist Alma Thomas, this workshop features interactive activities that use poetry and movement to strengthen critical and creative thinking while building students’ self-awareness, self-agency, social awareness and relationship skills.


For teachers of all levels,

families and communities.

90 minute or 2 hour online synchronous session

2 - 2.5 hour in-person session.

Comments from Participants:


"This was an incredible experience for me and walked me through the steps I can use with my students to connect and react to works of art while developing essential threads of empathy and curiosity, and provoke critical thinking."

Participant in "Standing in a Character's Shoes," National Gallery of Art, 2021

"The course allowed me to see how

I can use images and art to allow students to connect with content in a deeper way."


Arts Integration Master TeacherProgram, 

Prince George's County, Maryland, 

March 2022

"I truly valued the opportunity to consider and experience the value of emotions as a catalyst for deep learning. MaryHall made a clear connection to how the arts provide a meaningful and safe pathway to access and explore our emotions, as well as better understand the emotions and perspectives of others."

Amy Rautiainen

Artful Teaching Project Coordinator

Juneau School District

Presenter of "Thinking with Emotions:

A Superpower for Learning," 2021.

"The writing of the students was like nothing I've ever read or heard from them. They realized that what they see and think is great ... We all "see" things differently because of our different experiences. Seeing students not second guess themselves and develop a deeper sense of community within the classroom of their peers and teachers is priceless. Who knew discussing and writing about art could have such an impact?"

Dr. Tanisha W Smith, Director 
Tupelo Public School District Structured Day Program, 2022.

NEW:  Creative Writing Inspired by Visual Art
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Writing on Your Feet with Picasso

Presented at the National Gallery of Art, the Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers and nationally and internationally since 2014.

Discover new tools to enrich student writing, inspired by Picasso’s mysterious painting, The Family of Saltimbanques. This interactive workshop uses close looking, drama, and creative writing to dive deeply into a visual text and emerge with multiple narrative possibilities and complex characters.  Discover imaginative ways to engage students in story and character creation before they ever sit down to write.

For teachers of Grades 5 - 12.      2 - 3 hour in-person session.  

NEW:  90 minute online version of "Standing in a Character's Shoes" inspired by this painting.

Understanding Multilayered Stories In Writing and Art

Presented at the National Gallery of Art, the Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers, and nationally since 2017.

How can we inspire students to imagine and write stories that are rich in plot, character, and detail?  This interactive workshop invites participants to step inside a work of art to explore the power of a multilayered narrative.  Participants will engage in close looking, multi-sensory word-sketching, and creative writing. Discover how multiple perspectives layer meaning into a narrative and its interpretation.

For teachers of Grades 7 - 12.       

90 minute online or 2 to 2.5-hour in-person session.  

The Power of Place in Writing and Art

Presented at the National Gallery of Art, the Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers and nationwide since 2014.

How can we encourage students to explore setting beyond just being the place where a story happens? This interactive workshop invites participants to step inside a work of art to explore the power and possibilities of setting as mood, meaning, and metaphor. Inspired by a Hudson River School or African American artist Hale Woodruff landscape or an Italian cityscape, participants will engage in close looking, word-sketching, and creative writing.  

For teachers of Grades 5 - 12.     

90 minute online or

2 - 3 hour in-person session.

Bellying Up to Bar Italia:
Expand Perspective and
Uncover Complexity

Presented at Smithsonian American Art Museum and

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 2019.

Invite your students to step in to Paul Cadmus’s  painting Bar Italia to explore the complexity of perspective taking. Through a multi-stepped process, participants imagine multiple characters’ perspectives, and then demonstrate their understanding of the satirical painting through imagined, improvised, and shared dramatic monologues. Reflection focuses on how perceptions shift and expand through close-looking, deep questioning and empathy.

For teachers of Grades 5 - 12.      1 3-hour session.

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