Latest News from the Collaborative

By: Abby Krolik
03/01/2019

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!

March 1, 2019:

DC-PZ Workshop at
National Portrait Gallery/
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Around 25 educators woke up early this past Saturday morning to attend a five-hour workshop hosted jointly by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). We don’t often get the luxury–even at WISSIT–of spending a full five hours in a single workshop, digging into rich ideas around thinking and making connections, and the myriad ways in which humans have always expressed themselves. But that’s exactly what we did on Saturday, with expert facilitation and guidance from NPG’s Briana White and SAAM’s Elizabeth Dale-Deines (both are their institution’s School and Teacher Programs Manager as well as long-time practitioners of Project Zero routines).

The theme of the workshop was making connections between what we can see, think, and wonder, and how that can lead to deeper engagement–not just with artworks, but with any topic. This theme is suited particularly well to these two museums, both of which often describe themselves as not just art museums, but also history museums.

We started the morning with generating a list of the activities we do when we know we’re doing our best thinking (e.g., collaborating or problem-solving, or even “not thinking”) and then working in small groups to create a visualization of one of those kinds of thinking activities.     

Briana then moved us into the Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today to view Evan Roth’s piece, Internet Cache Self-Portrait. This work stretched our conception of what a “portrait” can look like or represent. It’s an extremely long stretch of vinyl on which a visualization of the artist’s internet search history of several months has been printed. After taking some time to absorb the intense visual impact of the piece, and discussing what we were seeing with the group at large, we used the Thinking Routine “Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate” in smaller groups to process our thinking and ideas about what the artwork represented.

After a quick lunch break, we dived right back into the galleries, this time with Elizabeth in SAAM’s new installation Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor. This exhibition displays 155 of Bill Traylor’s drawings and paintings–out of his lifetime total of over 1,000! This prolific artist was born enslaved in the American South, and lived just past World War II. With such a long life, he was witness to many major events in our country’s history, but his work is not about events or grand movements. Instead, it is a visual testimony to his personal experience of the world, which is why Elizabeth had us begin by exploring the exhibit in pairs and ignoring all text. With Traylor’s drawings as our only context, we could see it as the medium it was meant to be: a visual language. We then used an adaptation of “See-Think-Wonder”–with “Connect” added to the Thinking Routine–to try and unpack the message of one of his drawings. 

To conclude the workshop, we took time to reflect on everything we’d learned that day and brainstorm ways in which we could take those lessons back to our own context. It was inspiring to walk around the room and look at all the ideas that were percolating in our colleagues’ notes!

We are so grateful to have a truly thoughtful and creative group of educators in our DC-PZ network, and we can’t wait to continue the conversation at each of our upcoming events, including, of course, WISSIT!

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Summer Institute Shaping Up to Be Best Ever

Since January, the leadership team for the 2019 Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers: Connecting DC Teachers with Project Zero Ideas, or WISSIT, has been working diligently to assemble the most experienced and diverse faculty in the summer institute’s six-year history.

WISSIT focuses on pedagogical tools, frameworks, and strategies that have been developed at Project Zero (PZ), a research group located in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. PZ’s reach in the DC area is extensive, with our DC-PZ group numbering over 2,000 members. The list of schools and other educational settings in and around DC that have used PZ ideas to improve the quality of teaching and learning keeps growing. 

One of the goals of WISSIT is to highlight this work across the region and inspire others. Another is to demonstrate the power of Project Zero ideas in any type of educational setting. The three key themes for WISSIT are: Building a Culture of Thinking; Educating for Global Competence; and Encouraging Creativity and Maker Thinking in Children. 

This year, WISSIT will feature four prominent PZ researchers whose work encompasses one of the major themes of the institute. Ron Ritchhart leads the Cultures of Thinking project; Veronica Boix Mansilla has distinguished herself in the past decade for her work on Educating for Global Competence; and Edward Clapp and Sarah Sheya have led the Making Across the Curriculum project in DC.

In past years, WISSIT participants have come from schools in all eight wards of DC as well as the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Each year, we have also had attendees from museums, early learning centers, and educational organizations. In 2018, over 60 percent of those attending came from the public sector. Most schools sent teams of three or more teachers. 

Begun in 2014 with 125 participants and around 40 faculty members–all local educators, with the exception of several prominent researchers from Project Zero–WISSIT now fills up each year, maxing out at 230 participants and approximately 80 faculty members. 

This year, WISSIT will be held from Monday, July 29, through Friday, August 2. Registration opened in early January. The link for more information and for registration can be found here

The regular registration fee is a reasonable $900 for an intensive week of high-quality professional learning, including lunch on two of the five days and a reception on one of the evenings. A $200 discount is available for individuals who come on a team of three or more from the same school or site. This year, WISSIT is offering a limited number of scholarships to educators working in Title I (or equivalent) settings, or who are working toward licensure. The scholarship equals 50% off the regular registration fee. Contact WISSIT Director Jim Reese at jim.reese@wis.edu for more information.

WISSIT’s leadership team is made up of Jim Reese, who directs WISSIT and also leads the Professional Development Collaborative at Washington International School; Abby Krolik, who assists the PD Collaborative on a number of initiatives and who is in charge of WISSIT logistics as well as the content for the Day at the Museums; Kristen Kullberg, teacher and arts integration coordinator at Sacred Heart School, who, as a WISSIT Education Coordinator organizes the interactive courses; Vaijayanti Wagle, an educator at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, who serves as a WISSIT Education Coordinator directing the learning groups and fellows; Kerri Redding, teacher and Community Service Coordinator at WIS, who takes on a new role at WISSIT as Coordinator of Community Building and Inclusion; and Jaime Chao Mignano, STEAM Community Coordinator at WIS, who will oversee maker-related activities, including our popular “Happenings” on the Thursday of the institute week.

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