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
pictures of practiceT-Stool Project

T-Stool Project

In this picture of practice essay, educators Ilya Pratt and Jeanine Harmon share a community “Design + Build” project. Fourth and fifth grade students from North Oakland Charter School and Park Day School find an opportunity to work together to build T-Stools for classrooms.

Field NoteDesigning and Making with English Language Learners

Designing and Making with English Language Learners

Thi Bui teaches art and multimedia at Oakland International High School, a public high school for immigrants students’ where command of the English language is one of the last things to be taken for granted.

documentation and assessment toolsTell Me More!

Tell Me More!

These conversation-starters help learners become sensitive to the presence of the Making Moves in their own and others’ learning. They also help learners have substantive conversations about the Making Moves with their peers.

Field NoteHacking Simple Systems: The Tale of an Incomplete Soccer Uniform

Hacking Simple Systems: The Tale of an Incomplete Soccer Uniform

Oakland Learning Community Tatum Omari’s builds on her experience with system redesign to hack her daughter’s soccer gear.

publicationsParticipatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom presents a systems-based approach to examining creativity in education that aims to make participating in invention and innovation accessible to all students. Moving beyond the gifted-versus-ungifted debate present in many of today’s classrooms, the book’s inclusive framework situates creativity as a participatory and socially distributed process. The core principle of the book is that individuals are not creative, ideas are creative, and that there are multiple ways for a variety of individuals to participate in the development of creative ideas. This dynamic reframing of invention and innovation provides strategies for teachers, curriculum designers, policymakers, researchers, and others who seek to develop a more equitable approach towards establishing creative learning experiences in various educational settings.

activities and practicesLearning Walk

Learning Walk

This practice supports co-inspiration and the cross-pollination of ideas during maker-centered group work.

thinking routinesThe MCL Hacker Helper

The MCL Hacker Helper

Just as the broader Agency by Design framework for maker-centered learning encourages people to be active creators of the designed world, the Hacker Helper Tool invites educators to view the breadth of educator resources associated with the Agency by Design framework as malleable. This tool provides prompts to support educators as they “hack” existing Agency by Design tools, practices, and thinking routines to work better for their learners.

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