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
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.

Field NoteDeveloping a Sensitivity to the Design of Teacher Learning Communities

Developing a Sensitivity to the Design of Teacher Learning Communities

A community of teachers and researchers work together in Cambridge, MA and Temescal, CA to learn more about how students understand design in the world.

Field NoteMaking Circuits Work: A Learning Journey

Making Circuits Work: A Learning Journey

Agency by Design researcher Jessica Ross explores circuitry by engaging in a hands-on journey to build a flashing LED light from scratch.

thinking routinesPARTES, PERSPECTIVAS, E EU


A rotina ajuda os estudantes a explorar a complexidade ao encorajá-los a olhar atentamente para os detalhes de algo, considerando uma variedade de pontos de vista, de usuários e de partes interessadas e refletindo sobre as próprias conexões e seu envolvimento com o objeto ou o sistema em questão.

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.
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.

thinking routinesPENSE, SINTA, SE IMPORTE


Essa rotina encoraja os estudantes a considerarem as diversas perspectivas de quem interage em um sistema particular. O objetivo dessa rotina é ajudar os estudantes a entender no que as diversas pessoas que participam de um sistema pensam, o que sentem e com o que se importam de uma forma particular em função de sua posição no sistema.

documentation and assessment toolsAbD Framework: A Guide for Educators

AbD Framework: A Guide for Educators

A resource for educators to explore the ways you can use the Agency by Design Framework and Making Moves/Indicators.