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!

November 2, 2018:

Agency by Design-DC:
Making Across the Curriculum


How do we best prepare young people for a rapidly changing world? Many leading education experts advocate interdisciplinary, project-based learning. Paired with design thinking, this “maker-centered” approach–a methodology providing a framework for looking closely, exploring complexity and finding opportunity–embraces the development of a wide range of dispositions and hands-on skills. Emergent research on this approach from Project Zero shows promise for students, especially those from historically marginalized communities, to engage more meaningfully with content and to make rich connections across the curriculum on their own.

The PD Collaborative is partnering with PZ researchers on a new initiative called Agency by Design-DC: Making Across the Curriculum. The project explores the implications for teaching and learning in schools across DC by creating a network of educators who use a maker-centered approach in their classrooms.

Since January 2018, two Agency by Design (AbD) researchers from PZ, Edward Clapp and Sarah Sheya, have been working alongside a cohort of Washington International School teachers–across disciplines and grade levels–introducing AbD concepts as well as various related pedagogical tools and practices.

Two major strands of inquiry guide the investigation:
(1) How can the practices of maker-centered learning be applied across content areas and grade levels? and (2) How can the practices of maker-centered learning be applied to better reach and engage students–especially young people from historically marginalized communities–who struggle to excel within traditional educational structures?

In September, this group expanded to include 30 teachers from public schools across DC who are now engaged in deep professional learning. The DC cohort meets monthly for a seminar series with the Project Zero researchers to explore the AbD framework and pedagogical tools. Smaller groups then meet bi-weekly in learning groups to share documentation of the way these practices are playing out in classrooms.

The DC cohort includes teachers from H.D. Cooke Elementary School (DCPS), DC International Public Charter School, MacFarland Middle School (DCPS), Roosevelt High School (DCPS), and Van Ness Elementary School (DCPS).

AbD has been a leader in investigating the maker mindset, developing pedagogical tools to nurture it, and documenting the variety of ways it manifests itself in schools. One particular focus concerns the relationship between agency and empowerment, and its application to the local community and social justice initiatives. The project posits that the maker mindset aids in “fostering young people’s sensitivity to the designed dimensions of the world [and] may be a powerful way to increase their sense of agency.”

You can learn more about the project and all it is doing in DC and across the country by visiting a newly revamped website at This DC project is being funded through a generous 1:1 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation.


Beyond WISSIT: Putting PZ Ideas Into Action


Approximately 40 educators from all over the DC region joined us on Tuesday, October 23, at Sacred Heart School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC for our annual DC-PZ kickoff event, “Beyond WISSIT: Turning PZ Ideas Into Action.” For the second year in a row, we have started our free DC-PZ professional development series with “Beyond WISSIT” as a way to remind ourselves that WISSIT is not just an isolated event, when we get excited about new ideas, only to forget all about them in the whirlwind that is the start of the new school year! It’s a chance to add fresh energy to the ideas that have been percolating in the back of our mind since August. It’s also an opportunity to see what other educators are doing with PZ ideas in their individual settings.


This year, we had seven workshops facilitated by a mix of WISSIT instructors, fellows, and participants. Attendees had a choice of hearing about teachers’ experiences with maker-centered learning, documentation, and the building of classroom cultures of thinking; practicing with different types of Thinking Routines and dialogue techniques; and attending a kick-off meeting for the newest DC-PZ affinity group, DC-PZ for People of Color (a.k.a. DC-PZ-POC). The seeds for this group were planted during this past summer’s WISSIT, and it’s now seeking PZ educators of color and allies who are interested in building a supportive community and in using PZ-inspired tools to address issues of equity and inclusion.

A big thank-you to our hosts, Sacred Heart School, and to everyone who facilitated a session!


Featured Event: 
Portales/Gateways Exhibit: Educators’ Night with DC-PZ & Art Education DC

Thursday, November 29, 2018, 4:45pm-7:00pm
Carlos Rosario School Harvard Street Campus,
1100 Harvard Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009



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