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
Resources
Field NoteHow Can Understanding What We Value as Educators Shape What We Assess in Our Classrooms?

How Can Understanding What We Value as Educators Shape What We Assess in Our Classrooms?

What do we want our learners to be like when they leave our classrooms at the end of the year? What does authentic learning look like in a maker-centered classroom? Your response to these questions might be an indicator of what type of learning you value as a teacher. Inspired by Carlina Rinaldi and her writing on the relationship between documentation and assessment, we used these questions to identify what types of learning or dispositions teachers value most within their contexts. Think of it as a lens for looking at learning. What we quickly realized is that the values educators bring to their work have implications connected to assessment.

Field NoteCuriosities, Collections, and Curating: Considering Maker Portfolios

Curiosities, Collections, and Curating: Considering Maker Portfolios

AbD researcher Jessica Ross elaborates on her role in the Open Portfolio Project by asking the question: What advice can we offer young makers as they document their making throughout their lifetimes?

thinking routinesParts, Perspectives, Me

Parts, Perspectives, Me

This routine helps students explore complexity by encouraging them to look closely at the details of something, considering its various viewpoints, users, and stakeholders, and reflecting on their own connections and involvement with it.

activities and practicesCritical Sensitivity to Design Questions

Critical Sensitivity to Design Questions

A set of questions for students and educators that support critical inquiry and awareness when approaching human-designed objects and systems.

documentation and assessment toolsDocumentation Templates

Documentation Templates

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.

publicationsIdentifying What Matters

Identifying What Matters

In this essay, leaders of the Agency by Design Pittsburgh network Peter Wardrip, Jeffrey Evancho, and Annie McNamarra describe their process of pursuing documentation and assessment strategies for maker-centered learning that are based on the values educators bring to their work in schools and other settings. Using the metaphor of big rocks and little rocks as introduced by Steven Covey, the authors describe the process of identifying one’s values and documenting and assessing student learning from the perspective of one’s values. They then articulate the lessons they have learned and their suggestions for moving forward. The core findings that emerge from this work are: (a) identifying one’s values is challenging, (b) documentation requires practice, (c) one’s values are linked to one’s content, and (d) visibility supports measurement.

videosExploring Complexity: A Capacity of Sensitivity to Design

Exploring Complexity: A Capacity of Sensitivity to Design

Educator Gus Goodwin shares how his students engage with the Agency by Design capacities during a design and engineering challenge, specifically highlighting the capacity Exploring Complexity.

Video by Alex Coppola

Featured photo by Jaime Chao Mignano

documentation and assessment toolsLooking at Student Work Protocol

Looking at Student Work Protocol

A protocol that provides structure for collaboratively examining documentation that includes student’s products and processes and offers an opportunity for educators and learners to reflect back and plan for next steps.