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!


Welcome Back!

Virtual WISSIT 2020 Recap

Our seventh straight year of WISSIT (the Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers) turned out to be our most challenging yet. With the Covid-19 pandemic preventing in-person gatherings, we made the decision in early April to shift our keystone professional learning event for DMV educators to an online setting. The verdict? Virtual WISSIT 2020 delivered!

Held Monday-Friday, August 3-7, Virtual WISSIT boasted 135 participants and over 50 presenters, all DMV educators. In addition, two Project Zero researchers, Ron Ritchhart and Sarah Sheya, delivered keynote addresses. All sessions were held on Zoom.

The institute content was built around three major themes, each of which served as the focus on a particular day: Building a Culture of Thinking; Encouraging Creativity & “Maker” Thinking in Children; and Learning Deeply with Museum Resources. 

On Monday, Ritchhart kicked off the week with a talk on ideas from a book he recently co-authored with Mark Church, The Power of Making Thinking Visible (Jossey-Bass, 2020). Six interactive courses that afternoon demonstrated Project Zero thinking routines in action as well as other strategies essential to creating a culture of thinking.

Wednesday featured Sheya who explored two maker-centered learning projects based in DC called Making Across the Curriculum and Justice by Design. Six interactive courses that afternoon highlighted practices from those two projects


On our last day, Friday, we held our virtual Day at the Museums. Three plenary session speakers started the day: Smithsonian Acting Under Secretary for Education Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar and local public school teachers Sher Anderson Petty and Ellen Rogers. They all shared ways they have used Smithsonian digital resources in their practice. Six courses following the plenary session talk, led by museum educators and classroom teachers, engaged participants in ways to integrate museum resources into the classroom. 


Learning groups, one of the most important features of WISSIT, met on four of the five days during the week. These small groups of participants, co-facilitated by experienced Project Zero practitioners, provided a welcoming space to process the week’s learning and to build a plan for putting ideas into action when the school year commences. 


Virtual WISSIT offered two special gatherings on Tuesday and Thursday of the institute week. Talk-Back sessions with Ritchhart and Sheya gave participants an opportunity to delve more deeply into ideas each of them presented in their plenary session talk. Art Happenings–immersive art-making experiences led by local artists and art educators–offered innovative and often joyful strategies for engaging with visual art, movement and storytelling.  

Reactions from participants included…

“This session helped me rethink the pandemic & shift my mindset from pessimism and panic to positivity and powerful change. It helped me remember my personal values (the why behind me getting into education) & the need to keep those at the forefront as we return to school in the fall. It helped me think of my community–my students, colleagues, & the community of educators we are building at WISSIT–and how to better understand them.”

“Great ideas and really re-energized my thoughts about education/teaching/learning.”

“I thought this was well done virtually. It allowed for collaboration, discussion, making time, and not too much screen time.”

“Considering this was the first time WISSIT was virtual, I think the logistics were incredible! It gave me a little bit of hope that distance learning can work this fall.”

We look forward to the day when we will be able to hold an in-person WISSIT again–fingers crossed it’s next summer. In the meantime, we are excited to offer a variety of opportunities for members of our growing DC-Project Zero network to continue to learn and support one another. Read on!


Deeper Learning in a Distance Learning World
Workshop Series

The PD Collaborative is pleased to announce an online workshop series that will take place every other Thursday this autumn through November.

Titled “Deeper Learning in a Distance Learning World,” the series will commence on Thursday, September 10. Each workshop will focus on a pedagogical tool or strategy developed at or inspired by Project Zero, and will feature a master educator from the DC-PZ network. 

All workshops will take place from 4:00-5:15 p.m. (US EDT). 

Each workshop will be capped at 18 participants; registrants will receive by email the link to the workshop session two days in advance.

On September 10, the series will launch with “Interrogating Legacy: Voice, Choice, and Critical Mending,” a workshop led by Jaime Chao Mignano, the STEAM Community Coordinator for grades 6-12 at Washington International School and a member of the leadership team for WISSIT and the Making Across the Curriculum project.

The series will run through Thursday, November 19. The dates, topics and workshop leaders for the first two workshops are listed below:

Thursday, September 10: 
“Interrogating Legacy: Voice, Choice, and Critical Mending”
Jaime Chao Mignano, Washington International School

Thursday, September 24: 
“Teaching Fish About Water: Critical Engagement with Media”
Kerri Redding, Washington International School

The remaining four workshops in the series will be announced in the coming week. 

Cost for a single workshop is $35. 

Click HERE to sign up!


Fall 2020 DCPZ Museum Workshops

For the last eight (!) years, we’ve held free workshops for DCPZ educators in the region throughout the academic year, most often in partnership with our local wealth of museums. This year will be no different! We’ve already lined up some terrific events with DC’s world-class museums. We’ll use museum collections and other cultural resources to help us wrestle with the burning questions of this challenging year: How do we keep learning fun and engaging when we’re stuck at home? How do we build a community of trust and brave thinking and questioning in a virtual space? How do we cultivate not just empathy, but also agency, in our students as they explore our imperfect world?

And don’t worry, we won’t forget to have some fun along the way!

Below are the dates and museum partners scheduled for this fall. We will send out sign-up forms about a month before each one.

September 23, 4:00-5:15pm: DC in the Classroom: DCPZ Workshop with Smithsonian Learning Lab  REGISTER HERE

How can we leverage the rich resources in our region for deeper learning? How can museums, and the Smithsonian Learning Lab in particular, help support your curriculum? In this DCPZ kickoff event for the 2020-21 school year, we will brainstorm together and begin to address these questions for our individual contexts. Tess Porter from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) and a local classroom educator will guide us through specific ways that the Smithsonian Learning Lab can enhance learning, especially in virtual settings. 

This workshop will be limited to 18 attendees.

October 2020 (date TBD): DCPZ Workshop with National Museum of Women in the Arts 

Join us with educators from the National Museum of Women in the Arts to explore how art and museums can help you build community in your digital classroom!

November 18: DCPZ Workshop with Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Join us with educators from the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum to learn strategies for facilitating difficult conversations in your classroom (virtual or otherwise) by diving into the fascinating intersection of science, history, and ethics.

Dispatches from the Distance Learning Trenches,

What fundamental shifts have you made in your approach to teaching and learning? 

What has been your biggest obstacle to date? 

What creative twists have you put in place? 

How are PZ ideas translating to the distance learning environment? 

Just like last spring, we will continue to collect stories and lessons learned from all of you.

Click HERE to submit.

Write us a description and reflection on what you’ve been doing; it should be between 2-6 sentences. We’ll share from your responses in our next newsletter.

Want to read past distance learning dispatches? Check them out on our blog post! 


Anti-Racism Resources for Educators:

Did you miss our June 2020 response to the protests and uprisings 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.


Follow The Collaborative on Social Media

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

“Like” us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter! 
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!