Latest News from the Collaborative

By: Abby Krolik

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 2000+ 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  institute for educators. In addition to being emailed to all of our subscribers, each newsletter will also be posted here, on our website. If you would like access to previous newsletters, you can click on the link to our Mailchimp archive. While you’re there, you can also sign up for our mailing list!

May 13, 2020:

What to Expect
@Virtual WISSIT 2020


It should come as no surprise that the seventh annual WISSIT will be offered through an online platform. Our faculty are keen to take on this challenge, fully confident that we can re-create the ‘magic’ of WISSIT as in years past. Please consider joining us!

The institute will still take place during the week of August 3-7. Our hope is to be able to return to the face-to-face model in summer 2021.

The leadership team of Virtual WISSIT 2020 has been working diligently to plan for a powerful learning experience. Many of the same features of past WISSITs will be in place, as will many of the same faculty. 

WISSIT Content:
Project Zero researchers Ron RitchhartEdward Clapp and Sarah Sheya will be featured speakers during the week. Content at Virtual WISSIT will connect to three major themes: 

  1. Building a Culture of Thinking;
  2. Encouraging Creativity and a ‘Maker Mindset’ in Children; and
  3. Learning Deeply in Museum Settings.


Virtual WISSIT will continue to offer interactive courses, all of which will be co-facilitated by experienced educators from school or museum sites. Participants will be placed in learning groups that meet four times during the week to reflect on WISSIT content and craft an action plan for adapting Project Zero ideas to specific contexts.

WISSIT Registration:
Registration re-launched this past week at the same site, linked here. As we have reduced the number of hours participants will need to commit during the week (in order to limit screen time), the registration fee has been halved, to $450 per person. Schools and organizations sending a team of three or more participants will pay $375 per person. And we have a limited number of scholarships on offer, at 50 percent off the regular registration fee, for educators in Title I settings or for those enrolled in a full-time teacher preparation program.


We intend to record all plenary session talks and interactive courses. All participants will have access to these recorded sessions for six months after Virtual WISSIT ends. In this way, participants for the first time ever will have access to all interactive courses on offer.

If you had already registered for WISSIT 2020, you should have received an email from our Registration Manager Sarah Wells ( about options. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sarah or Virtual WISSIT Director Jim Reese (


DCPZ Re-Caps:
National Museum of Natural History
& National Portrait Gallery/

Smithsonian American Art Museum


To say this spring didn’t unfold the way we expected it to would be an understatement of enormous proportions! Luckily, the global pandemic didn’t stop us from finishing out the year with two fantastic DCPZ museum workshops.


Just before COVID-19 hit the DC region (officially), a dozen or so educators gathered at Q?rius Lab, part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). We heard from Dr. Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization, who told us a bit about his work as a curator, academic, and educator (he teaches anthropology at George Washington University). Our discussion with him about globalization and education segued neatly into an activity that museum educators Nicole Webster and Colleen Popson had planned for us. 


Based on the upcoming exhibition at NMNH on cell phones, Nicole and Colleen led us through a take-apart activity with a variety of cell phones that spanned from the old “brick” style to much more recent smartphone models. We used the Agency by Design Thinking Routine “Parts-People-Complexities” to explore the systems behind the production, assembly, transportation, and marketing of these ubiquitous and complex machines that we use every day. 




Last month, we gathered in a very different way with Elizabeth Dale-Deines and Briana Zadavil White–museum educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, respectively. We had been scheduled to have a workshop with the two museums back in March, but the closing of all of the Smithsonian museums, just 24 hours before, forced us to postpone and then completely rethink how to do the workshop. Briana and Elizabeth, being the adventurous and creative educators they are, adapted not only the content of the planned workshop so that it could fit into a shorter time-frame (down to 90 minutes from the original four hours), but also the structure for participation, so that the interactive aspects of the workshop weren’t lost in the new digital context.


We had over 40 people participate in our first foray into Zoom-powered teacher workshops! Elizabeth and Briana seamlessly led us through several Thinking Routines, including a sensory-driven “Step Inside” and “See-Think-Feel-Wonder” with different artworks from their museums’ collections. With Elizabeth, we focused on the work of Japanese-American artist Chiura Obata, featured in one of their current exhibitions: Chiura Obata: American Modern. Briana gave us a peek into their current exhibition, the Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today (you can visit it virtually here!), which features the winners of their triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. 


Group discussions were facilitated through the chat box on Zoom, while the breakout room function was used to enable small group conversations. Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, constructive, and encouraging. While we hope for a return to in-person gatherings next school year, it is good to know that we can still provide the high-quality professional development that we always strive for, regardless of the circumstances.


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