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!


DCPZ Launches Year 9
of Free Workshop Series

On Sept. 23, we kicked off our annual DCPZ workshop series with the topic of bringing DC into the (virtual) classroom! Since 2012, DCPZ has provided free, high-quality professional development to educators in the DMV region. The pandemic hasn’t slowed us down, as we have planned a full slate of engaging workshops on offer all through the academic year. You can view our full calendar of events here.

The PD Collaborative’s Jim Reese and Abby Krolik began the inaugural workshop by reviewing the wealth of resources available to educators in the DMV and sharing lessons learned from past experience with establishing effective community partnerships. These include sharing specific learning goals with your partner, so that they become the focus of planning from the start, and making the experience integral to the learning. We then went into breakout rooms for small group discussions around strategies and ideas for incorporating community partnerships and resources into lessons.


Guest presenters Tess Porter, from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (which created the Smithsonian Learning Lab), and Sher Anderson Petty, high school English teacher in Montgomery Co. Public Schools, explored ways to use the Learning Lab and Smithsonian museum resources to deepen student learning. 


In particular, Tess demonstrated various functions of the Smithsonian Learning Lab–a free, online platform for accessing Smithsonian resources and building lesson plans. Sher followed with a classroom teacher’s perspective on how the Learning Lab can enhance student learning in any discipline. In addition to explaining how she uses the Learning Lab with her English literature students, she led us through some of the Project Zero thinking routines that she pairs with artworks in order to hone her students’ ability to read closely and analyze a text. The Learning Lab recommends the application of thinking routines to museum resources and provides detailed guidance on how to use them effectively.

While we missed being in the same physical space with participants, these online Zoom workshops allow us to continue learning from each other and pushing our ideas forward!

Our country has seen unprecedented disruption in education this year, and yet remarkable innovations in teaching and learning are happening right here in our region!

Last spring, the PD Collaborative (PDC) teamed up with the KID Museum to co-lead a regional festival as part of the national Remake Learning Days Across America initiative. Due to the pandemic, that festival had to be postponed, but, to make up for it, this year’s festival will be a year-long celebration of learning innovation across the country and in our region.

On October 13, educators from 16 regions across the U.S., including the DMV, will launch this celebration and unveil plans for the upcoming Remake Learning Days Across America festival, now in its fifth year. They will also share details about the soon to be released Learning Forerunners Across America report. This report details system-wide, impactful and scalable learning innovations from those 16 cities, regions and states. 

The Learning Forerunners Across America report, put together by internationally renowned organization HundrED, in partnership with Remake Learning and The Grable Foundation, focuses on one system-level best practice from each region that can foster innovation at scale. An initiative of the PD Collaborative will be honored as the DMV’s innovation–stay tuned for more details on that after the 13th!

The launch on October 13 will include information about each innovation and a preview of upcoming Remake Learning Days Across America events. Attendees will also engage with performances by Funky Fly Project, a live maker activity, and many special guests, including choreographer Maria Torres; 9th U.S. youth observer to the United Nations Dustin Liu; founder Bill Strickland and student Jason Garland of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, and Emily Dawn Calandrelli, host of Emily’s Wonder Lab on Netflix.

Jim Reese will appear, along with national partners PBS KIDS and Digital Promise, to share information about why family-engaged learning is critical. Remake Learning Days Across America Producer Dorie Taylor of Pittsburgh noted that she hopes “parents, caregivers and educators across all communities will be inspired by the learning kids are doing alongside their caring adults and think about what they hope to see in their own communities.”

Families and educators can register for the kickoff event, taking place on Tuesday, October 13, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET/4:00-:005 p.m. PT, right HERE. And it will be available on YouTube after the event. 

Remake Learning Days Across America is generously funded by the Grable Foundation, Schmidt Futures, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William-Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

In January, there will be a regional kick-off event for the DMV festival (more details on that coming soon) that will bring together educators (virtually) for a fun-filled Zoom “party.”

The official Remake Learning Days Across America festival in the DMV will take place from May 8 – May 22, 2020!


Dispatches from the Distance Learning Trenches:
Karin Tooze & Monica Caetano

“We Wear the Mask”
Karin Tooze, Upper School English, Washington International School 
(Adapted from the Washington International School’s “@WIS” community newsletter.)

Karin Tooze, a new Upper School English teacher at the Washington International School, used making as a way to help her grade 10 students create an authentic connection to a poem they were studying, while also building a foundation for establishing relationships in the classroom–always a key part of the first days of school, but even more important in this time of distance learning.

As an introduction to their study of Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred, Karin and her students read Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask,” which focuses on former enslaved people hiding their pain behind smiles. Karin, inspired by her colleague Nick Loewen (an active member of our DCPZ network), asked the students, “What kinds of things does the speaker keep in front of, or ‘wear,’ on the mask, and what does he keep behind his mask?” She then asked the students to consider these questions for themselves: “How many times do we hide behind things? What sort of masks do we wear with others? What do we keep on the inside?”

 Then, as a way for the students to introduce themselves to each other (and to her), Karin asked them to answer questions about themselves, their place in history, the way others might view them, and something few people know about them.

From the answers to these questions, Karin asked her students to create their own mask: “They used their creativity to color and put things on the outside of the mask that they thought represented them or what people knew about them. Those could have been words, images, whatever. I also asked them to decorate the inside of the mask with things that they didn’t show the world, but I said they didn’t have to share those images publicly if they didn’t want to. Also, I wanted them to physically create this mask to give them time off their screens!” After they uploaded their masks to their class Padlet and discussed them as a class, each student was asked to write a poem about oneself, using the answers to the above questions and their mask as a guide.

While in the past she might have used a different template, this year Karin thought it was appropriate to use a template that looked like the masks we have all begun to wear as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a clever way to tie this older poem to our present-day reality, and also served to help Karin learn more about her students as individuals.


“Making with Our Feelings”
Monica Caetano, Kindergarten Spanish immersion teacher, Washington International School

Monica Caetano also used making in a virtual setting as a way to build community in her Kindergarten classroom. In a conversation about feelings, she invited her students to share “happy experiences.” She said this helped students start to explore varied perspectives among their classmates, and ensured that everyone participated and got to know each other in a positive way. 

She then gave them the instruction to make “our happy face” with materials they had at home. “We had a lot of fun, listening and making our free design of our favorite feeling!” she said. Below are the results!

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!

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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!