Latest News from the Collaborative

By: Jim Reese

Read from our latest newsletter about everything PDC has  been up to!

About twice a month, the Professional Development Collaborative sends out a newsletter to its 1000+ subscribers to let them know about the projects we are working on; the relevant meetings or conferences at which we are presenting or that we are attending; and, of course, descriptions and reminders for all of the wonderful DC-PZ events that are coming up soon. This includes information about WISSIT–our annual summer teacher institute. In addition to being emailed to all of our subscribers, each newsletter will also be posted here, on our website. If you would like to access previous newsletters, you can click on the following link to our Mailchimp archive. While you’re there, you can also sign up for our mailing list!

June 15, 2018:

DC-Project Zero 2017-18 Year in Review

What a year it has been! With summer just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to take a step back and reflect on how much we’ve accomplished this year. Here are just a few snapshots of what 2017-18 has brought for the Professional Development Collaborative. We hope your year has been as rewarding as ours!

Workshops & Events
This year, we have had…
  • 8 events/workshops in 8 schools or museums in DC, such as:
    • These Schools Belong to You and Me: An Evening with Deborah Meier & Emily Gasoi
    • A Demonstration of Learning Lab at Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
  • Total attendance of over 300 educators
  • 7 Partner organizations

Children Are Citizens:

  • 400+ students
  • 25 classrooms from PreK3 through grade 2
  • 7 schools/early learning centers across DC
  • 5 cultural institution partners
  • Track record of 4 years of success
  • 1 fabulous book!


Agency by Design-DC: Making Across the Curriculum:

  • 21 teachers/administrators from WIS so far, with plans to create a DC cohort (see article below)
  • AbD has had broad success in ongoing projects in Oakland, CA, and Pittsburgh, PA, and has new projects here in DC and in Hong Kong (with an early childhood focus), as well as an online course open to anyone interested.
  • 190 new people added to the mailing list since Sept. 2017!
  • Launched two new affiliates:
    • PZ In Another Language
    • NOVA*PZ

*These bring us to a total of three affiliates, including DC-PZ-EC (early childhood)!

A Preview for 2018-2019

Children Are Citizens Conference Coming this Fall!

The inaugural Children Are Citizens: Civic Agency in the Early Years conference will be held at Washington International School’s Primary School campus on Friday & Saturday, October 5 & 6, 2018.

The conference will address three main questions: (1) What happens when we see young children as citizens in their own right with ideas about how to make their community a better place? (2) How do we build a curriculum around truly listening to children’s ideas and honoring their voices? and (3) How do we build agency in the early years through explorations of a community?

At the conference, participants will learn from and alongside early childhood researchers from Project Zero, practitioners of Reggio-inspired approaches to teaching and learning in the early years, cultural institution partners, and colleagues from the DC region and from around the country and world.

Conference content will focus on the exciting Children Are Citizens initiative in DC and other cities. Participants will see how the project has come to life in diverse classrooms, experience methods through which the arts, humanities, and sciences have been integrated into the curriculum, and have the opportunity to plan for starting something similar in their own setting.

Project Zero’s Mara Krechevsky and Ben Mardell, who originated this initiative and who have collaborated with educators in Reggio Emilia preschools for nearly two decades, will be keynote speakers over the two days.

The conference has been designed for educators in the early childhood to early elementary range. Goals are to:

  • Introduce and explore key principles of the Reggio-inspired Children Are Citizens project;
  • Assist attendees in adapting Children Are Citizens to their own setting by building an action plan; and
  • Build a network of early childhood-early elementary educators who can support one another beyond the conference in doing this important work.

The conference is being organized by the Professional Development Collaborative. Click here for more information and to register.


New Maker-Centered Learning Project Begins in DC

The Professional Development Collaborative and Harvard Project Zero (PZ) have launched a new initiative that will bring maker-centered learning practices to DC classrooms in a major way!

Called Agency by Design-DC: Making Across the Curriculum, this initiative aims to change the paradigm of traditional teaching and learning across the city by creating a network of educators who use a maker-centered approach in their classrooms.

Teachers involved will investigate pedagogical tools and strategies that support students in diverse settings, from preschool to high school and across content areas, while also considering how maker-centered learning may become more accessible to a wider breadth of young people.

Thanks to a 1:1 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation and a host of generous donors, Washington International School has engaged a research team with the Agency by Design project, or AbD, at Project Zero to establish an initial cohort of DC educators who want to infuse making into their classrooms.

The Collaborative will work with PZ Principal Investigator Edward Clapp–who has been featured in two past DC-PZ events–as well as Project CoordinatorSarah Sheya to explore major ideas put forward in the book Maker-Centered Learning, co-authored by Clapp, J. Ross, J. Ryan and S. Tishman.

All of those involved in this endeavor will attend a monthly seminar series with Clapp and Sheya in the first semester of the 2018-19 school year. They will build an understanding of what is meant by maker practices, trying them out in their classes and documenting the process along the way.

Over the past couple of years, Clapp has been working directly with teachers at Washington International School and at Van Ness Elementary School (DCPS). He and Sheya will also be featured presenters at this year’s WISSIT.

Below are just a few examples of the ways teachers at WIS and Van Ness have engaged their students in maker-centered practices in the past year:

  • High school students in a Theory of Knowledge course went on a “design hunt” around campus to explore the designed world around them. Once they settled on an object to examine closely, they debated two questions: “Is it art?” and then “What is art?”
  • Early elementary students created their own emojis, representing their unique traits, and wrote to tech industry leaders to propose their idea.
  • Middle school students took apart old musical instruments while studying the physics of sound, and then used their new-found understanding to build new musical instruments out of recycled materials.
  • Early childhood educators have established makers-paces in their classrooms that have allowed young children to make or take apart objects on a daily basis, or respond to challenges (such as making a catapult), with a focus on figuring out how things work or how to solve a problem.

Ultimately, through a focus on looking closely at the world around them, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity to act, the PZ researchers posit that maker practices can enable young people to act on their world in constructive ways.

This initiative represents yet another way that the Collaborative is bringing meaningful engagement with Project Zero ideas to DC educators. In the fall, we will share some work from the Making Across the Curriculum project with a wider audience in a DC-PZ event at the newly opened Design Center at WIS’s Tregaron campus.


Follow The Collaborative on Social Media

The Collaborative is now on social media in a BIG way!

“Like” us on Facebook at
Follow us on Twitter @pdc_wis.
We’ll post news, events, and photos on both platforms. Share us with all your educator friends!


To see all of our upcoming events, click here!