Agency by Design

Educational initiatives that emphasize making, design, engineering, and tinkering have been gaining traction in schools and organizations across the country. While maker-centered learning is not a new concept, recent and emerging trends suggest a new kind of hands-on pedagogy—a responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, and crossing boundaries.

Agency by Design (AbD) is a multiyear research initiative at Project Zero investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences.

The Framework
videosAgency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds

Agency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds

"Agency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds" explores the ways in which educators can develop teaching strategies that support student agency through maker-centered learning experiences.

Video by Alex Coppola

Field NoteJusticexDesign: Developing a Sensitivity to Designed Injustices

JusticexDesign: Developing a Sensitivity to Designed Injustices

Banner image courtesy of Agnes Gómez and her 5th grade students at Sacred Heart School (School year: 2019-2020).
Agency by Design and JusticexDesign (JxD) extend great appreciation to Jaime Chao Mignano for being a thought partner in conceiving of the JxD project as well as to JxD Origin Educators for their invaluable contributions to this work: Agnes Gómez, Angélica Guerrera, Anne Leflot, Ashley Beck, Gerald D. Smith Jr., Maria Fernanda García, Mark Perkins, Nick Loewen, and Sonia Chintha. Thanks also to educators Julie Rains and Lisa Yokana, who participated remotely in trying out some JxD tools during its pilot year. Sincerest appreciation to Edward P. Clapp and Jim Reese, as well as the Washington International School, for their generous and ongoing support in making JxD possible.
activities and practicesMaterials Exploration

Materials Exploration

This practice promotes noticing, play, and exploration. When learners have time to tinker with materials they can gain an understanding of the affordances, possibilities, and constraints inherent in a variety of making materials.

documentation and assessment toolsMaker Capacities: Observe/Reflect

Maker Capacities: Observe/Reflect

This tool is connected to the Agency by Design Making Moves. The Making Moves identifies three maker capacities that support a sensitivity to design, along with their associated learning moves. Here you’ll find three observation sheets, one for each of the maker capacities:  Looking Closely, Exploring Complexity, and Finding Opportunity.

activities and practicesMemorable Making Experience

Memorable Making Experience

A conversation starter and reflective activity for introducing young people and adults to making.

Field NoteTinkering Towards a Definition of Tinkering

Tinkering Towards a Definition of Tinkering

How do you define tinkering? In this post, Agency by Design principal investigator Shari Tishman tinkers towards a definition of tinkering that considers standard text book definitions, examples from real life tinkerers, and a consideration of the “symptoms” of tinkering.

activities and practicesPeople, Systems, Power, Participation

People, Systems, Power, Participation

A protocol for looking critically at content and developing a sensitivity to the role(s) of power and participation in the design of objects and systems.

activities and practicesVoice and Choice: Learner Workbook

Voice and Choice: Learner Workbook

This Learn Workbook supports engagement with the Voice and Choice protocol. Created by Julie Rains.