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!


June 18, 2020:

2019-2020 Wrap-Up

What a year, right? Can anyone even remember January, let alone September? We always like to do a round-up of the school year and all of our initiatives as a way to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, but this year it feels especially necessary. Not only is it important to lift each other up in fraught times like these, but we also feel the need to remind ourselves that this year was so much more than just the pandemic. 

DCPZ Workshops:

Despite things being put on hold in mid-March, we held 5 workshops this year, including an inaugural virtual workshop! Two of these workshops were held at museums we hadn’t been to before for DCPZ events (National Museum of Women in the Arts and National Museum of Natural History). Over 120 of you attended these events! We’re excited to start planning for next year’s series, whether we get to meet in person or virtually–and we would love to have your input to guide us! See below for a link to a survey about the DCPZ workshop series.

Children Are Citizens (CAC):

Our second annual CAC conference held last October was an even bigger success than the first one! Well over 100 educators gathered for two days of diving deeply into the ways that we can foster civic agency and empower children to lead their own learning, starting in the earliest years of school.

Thanks to funding from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the DCPS Office of Federal Programs and Grants, the PD Collaborative has led a Children Are Citizens project at three sites in DC’s Ward 8: Excel Academy (DCPS), St. Thomas More Academy, and Sunshine Early Learning Center. Tiffany Bell and Margaret Ricks, DCPZ members and experienced early childhood educators, have co-facilitated a seminar series for teachers in the project and supported their students’ projects. The initiative was cut short by the school shutdown in mid-March, but we have plans to continue in the fall. 

Museums Go Global:

Eight educators from a wide spectrum of school types and grade levels gathered for monthly workshops from February-December 2019. These workshops focused on educating for global competence using digital museum resources and Global Thinking Routines. Each educator developed two extensive lesson plans over the course of the 10 months using the Smithsonian Learning Lab as the platform. You can explore each of their lesson plans by searching for the hashtag “#goglobal” on the Learning Lab site. 

This project was conceived and managed in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and was funded by a generous grant from the Longview Foundation. Each participating educator made enormous strides in the ability to recognize how global competence skills and dispositions can be taught, how to use museum objects effectively with learners, and how to write replicable lesson plans for educators around the world who access the Learning Lab. We hope to continue and expand upon the successes of this program.

Making Across the Curriculum Consortium:

Inspired by the Project Zero Agency by Design initiative, the Making Across the Curriculum (MAC) consortium brings together teams of teachers from schools all over the DMV region for professional learning rooted in making and design thinking. Through a seminar series led by Project Zero researchers Edward Clapp and Sarah Sheya, the initiative explores the promises and practices of maker-centered learning: making, hacking, taking apart, exploring systems, etc., with a focus on fostering agency in young people to act on their world in positive ways, as well as challenging systems of oppression.

Teachers of all disciplines and grade levels stretched themselves beyond the usual types of assignments and assessments as they engaged their students in creative, hands-on activities that brought out fresh perspectives and deeper understanding of course content. This year, the consortium consisted of over 50 faculty and staff from four sites: Barrie School; Sacred Heart School; St. Thomas More Catholic Academy; and Washington International School. 


Launched with a cohort of 10 “maker experienced” educators from six diverse schools across DC, including Title I public schools, Title II Catholic schools, and an international independent school—and with support from Washington International School—the JusticexDesign (JxD) initiative is investigating pedagogical strategies that encourage young people to engage critically with design in their world. 

Led by Sarah Sheya, JxD’s pilot-year participants engaged in collaborative inquiry—experimenting with tools, meeting in person and online to exchange and share learning, planning classroom collaborations, and challenging themselves—and one another—to approach their teaching practices through the lenses of systems thinking and social justice. Educators co-developed maker-centered classroom tools—soon to be published on the AbD website—that support young people to develop a sensitivity to injustices in design, consider the roles of power, participation, history, and context in designs and (re)designs, and reimagine oppressive systems and content they encounter.


Virtual WISSIT is Full

Virtual WISSIT, which will take place from August 3-7, reached capacity in early June and now has a waiting list. We are excited to announce the line-up of plenary session speakers:

  • Monday’s opening session on August 3 will feature Project Zero researcher Ron Ritchhart, speaking specifically about his new book, The Power of Making Thinking Visible, and addressing the conference theme, Building a Culture of Thinking.
  • On Wednesday, August 5, Project Zero researchers Edward Clapp and Sarah Sheya will explore the DC-based Making Across the Curriculum and JusticexDesign initiatives, focusing on the theme, Fostering Creativity and “Maker” Thinking in Children.
  • For our Learning Deeply in Museum Settings theme on Friday, August 7, Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, the Acting Under Secretary for Education at the Smithsonian Institution, will share ideas about ways museums can support schools. Then, two WISSIT faculty members, Sher Anderson Petty and Ellen Rogers, will demonstrate powerful learning strategies using digital museum resources. 

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the institute week, we will “gather” for a plenary session in the morning and offer six interactive courses–co-led by outstanding facilitators–in the early afternoon. Each day’s plenary session and course offerings will address one of the institute’s themes.

Participants will be placed in learning groups that will be co-led by experienced Project Zero practitioners. These groups will meet four times during the week, providing a space for participants to process what they are learning and to make plans for putting ideas into practice when they return to their home setting. 

Virtual WISSIT will also offer Art Happenings online on Tuesday, August 4, and Thursday, August 6. A popular feature of WISSIT for the past two years, Art Happenings are led by local artists and makers, and give participants an opportunity to engage in fun, hands-on activities.

If you are interested in registering and joining the waiting list for Virtual WISSIT, or want to learn more details, go to this link


Dispatches from the Distance Learning Trenches,
Now a Blog Post–with a New Dispatch!

We loved hearing from teachers in our DCPZ network about how they made the switch to distance learning this spring. We decided to make those dispatches available beyond this newsletter by turning them into a blog post on our website. 

All indicators show that we are far from done with distance learning, meaning your stories are not done, either. We will continue to share your dispatches next school year as your strategies evolve. If you would like to share a reflection with us, you can still submit to this form at any time.

You can read the latest dispatch from 5th grade teacher Agnes Gomez of Sacred Heart School of DC on the blog post! It’s all about adapting a maker-centered lesson plan and author program to the virtual classroom.


Anti-Racism Resources for Educators:

Did you miss our response last week to the current protests and uprisings still happening around the country in response to police brutality and killings? You can find it again on our website as a blogpost here.

Included in the list of resources is a useful webpage put together by our own DCPZ’er Kerri Redding. Kerri developed this page for Upper School students at Washington International School and asked her permission to share it widely. You can check it out on the list or here.


DCPZ Survey

We Want to Hear from YOU!

WISSIT and our free DCPZ workshop series have become cornerstones of what we do here at the PD Collaborative. It is important to us that we design these workshops around your needs, so that they continue to be something that you look forward to as a source of rejuvenation during the academic year. 

We would love to hear from as many people as possible about why they did or did not attend one of our DCPZ workshops this past year and what they would like to see in our offerings for next school year. The survey takes 5-10 minutes to complete (depends on how much detail you want to give us!). Your responses will help us serve you and your professional development needs as best we can!

Take the DCPZ Survey here.

DCPZ In the World

Forbes Article Features National Gallery of Art and DCPZ Educators 

Earlier this month, Forbes magazine published an article highlighting the Artful Thinking approach that educators at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) have been using for over a decade. Featured in the article are DCPZ members Julie Carmean and Dena Rapoport of the NGA, as well as teachers Kristen Kullberg and Greg Landrigan of Sacred Heart School, and Tondra Odom, a retired DCPS teacher. All five have been on the faculty of our annual summer institute, WISSIT. 

Congratulations to these outstanding educators for this recognition!

Congratulations are in order for Greg Landrigan a second time for being honored with the Golden Apple Award from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC!


Follow The Collaborative on Social Media

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

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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!