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!

October 12, 2018:

Inaugural Children Are Citizens Conference

The PD Collaborative sponsored the first–and what we hope will become an annual–Children Are Citizens (CAC) conference last Friday-Saturday, October 5-6. It was a fantastic success! The energy throughout the two days from participants and faculty was strong, focused, and filled with excitement for learning about how to empower our youngest students to take an active role in their communities.

Many thanks to the staff at WIS’s Primary School campus for hosting the conference.

For four years, CAC has brought DC teachers together from a variety of schools to engage children aged 3-7 in helping to make the nation’s capital a better place to live. Ten schools, over 60 classrooms, and approximately 1,000 students have been involved in this project inspired by the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and research at Harvard Project Zero.


The structure of the two days resembled an abbreviated version of WISSIT, our five-day summer institute. Each day began with a plenary session to provide context and insight into the CAC initiative as it has played out in classrooms across the city. Additional plenary sessions were scattered throughout the two days, including a panel discussion with school administrators on supporting teachers in the project and two others featuring teachers sharing their CAC projects.

Interactive courses on each day were led by a mix of classroom teachers and educators from local cultural institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, DC Public Library, Imagination Stage, and Inner City-Inner Child. These courses allowed participants to try their hand at specific strategies or learn about resources for their classrooms. Participants were placed in “Action Groups”–similar to WISSIT’s Learning Groups–focused on processing new-found knowledge together and coming up with action plans to take back to their schools for implementation.


At the closing session on Saturday afternoon, various participants shared specifics from their action plans. For example, a team of teachers and administrators from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, created a metaphorical mobile that illustrated the way they would build on their inquiry-based approach in early childhood classrooms to include Children Are Citizens ideas. Other educators presented ideas such as taking neighborhood walks with their students; connecting with local cultural institution partners; and creating space in classrooms to document children’s ideas about good citizenship practices.

Project Zero researchers Mara Krechevsky and Ben Mardell started the CAC initiative several years ago, with the support of WIS, and they were both on hand at the conference to present on the initiative’s history at the plenary sessions and to teach an interactive course on documentation.

Participants literally came from around the world to attend the conference! Here’s the breakdown of representation this past weekend:

  • Approximately 120 people in total (including participating teachers and administrators, faculty/staff, volunteers, and guests)
  • 3 countries and 7 states–plus DC and Puerto Rico
  • 33 traditional public, public charter, independent, religious, and higher education schools (participants and faculty)
  • Four local cultural organizations


Here are just a few things that participants had to say about the conference:

“The biggest take-away I have from the conference (I think I had many) is the part about actually listening to children’s voices. We do document and notice when there is a “buzz.” However, when we are making decisions in the school, are we taking their opinion into account? This question I take back home for further exploration.”

“These [plenary sessions] should be MANDATORY to have all/most faculty aware of the importance of Children Are Citizens.”

“You sparked a fire within to change how I look at teaching children!” 


Beyond WISSIT: DC-PZ Kick-Off, 10/23


For five years, the Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers (WISSIT) has immersed over 1,000 local educators in Project Zero ideas. What happens when participants return to their home base? How do we keep the enthusiasm for those ideas alive? How do we get inspired to build on what we learned in the summer?

These questions and more will be on the agenda as DC-Project Zero kicks off its seventh year of sponsoring a free professional development series with “Beyond WISSIT.” The event will be held on Tuesday, October 23, at Sacred Heart School, from 4:30-7:00 p.m. The event will feature two breakout sessions facilitated by WISSIT faculty.

RSVP using this link by Wednesday, 10/17/18, if you plan to attend. As always, we need an accurate head count for the caterer.

Sacred Heart is located at 1625 Park Road NW in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC. There is limited parking in the school parking lot off Park Road, on-street parking near the school, and paid parking at the DC USA complex at 14th and Irving.

Please don’t feel you need to have attended WISSIT to take part in this event! WISSIT explores pedagogical tools and strategies related to three key themes: Building a Culture of Thinking; Educating for Global Competence; and Encouraging Creativity and Maker Thinking in Children. All are welcome!


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