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
publicationsMaker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds

Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds

The Agency by Design guide to implementing maker-centered teaching and learning

Maker-Centered Learning provides both a theoretical framework and practical resources for the educators, curriculum developers, librarians, administrators, and parents navigating this burgeoning field. Written by the expert team from the Agency by Design initiative at Harvard's Project Zero, this book

  • Identifies a set of educational practices and ideas that define maker-centered learning, and introduces the focal concepts of maker empowerment and sensitivity to design.
  • Shares cutting edge research that provides evidence of the benefits of maker-centered learning for students and education as a whole.
  • Presents a clear Project Zero-based framework for maker-centered teaching and learning
  • Includes valuable educator resources that can be applied in a variety of design and maker-centered learning environments
  • Describes unique thinking routines that foster the primary maker capacities of looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity.

A surge of voices from government, industry, and education have argued that, in order to equip the next generation for life and work in the decades ahead, it is vital to support maker-centered learning in various educational environments. Maker-Centered Learning provides insight into what that means, and offers tools and knowledge that can be applied anywhere that learning takes place.

Field NoteA TEDx Talk about the Maker Mind: Why Having a Sensitivity to Design Matters

A TEDx Talk about the Maker Mind: Why Having a Sensitivity to Design Matters

Agency by Design project manager Jen Ryan describes her experience discussing the “maker mind” at TEDxDirigo.

Field NoteWhen a Ship is not a Ship—It’s a Sabre-toothed Cat! A Story of Maker Empowerment and Collective Agency

When a Ship is not a Ship—It’s a Sabre-toothed Cat! A Story of Maker Empowerment and Collective Agency

Ilya Pratt, AbD Oakland Leadership Team member and Design+Make+Engage program director at Park Day School, tells a tale of maker empowerment and collective agency through the story of Kyle and the saber-toothed cat.

pictures of practiceMaker Empowerment and Resourcefulness

Maker Empowerment and Resourcefulness

A practice that promotes the capacity of looking closely is the Elaboration Game. This picture of practice essay shares a version that was adapted by educator Tatum Omari for a group of young learners to examine a tortilla press during their unit of study about bread 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.

publicationsSlow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning Through Observation

Slow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning Through Observation

Slow Looking provides a robust argument for the importance of slow looking in learning environments both general and specialized, formal and informal, and its connection to major concepts in teaching, learning, and knowledge. A museum-originated practice increasingly seen as holding wide educational benefits, slow looking contends that patient, immersive attention to content can produce active cognitive opportunities for meaning-making and critical thinking that may not be possible though high-speed means of information delivery. Addressing the multi-disciplinary applications of this purposeful behavioral practice, this book draws examples from the visual arts, literature, science, and everyday life, using original, real-world scenarios to illustrate the complexities and rewards of slow looking.

thinking routinesImagíne si...

Imagíne si...

Esta rutina primero apoya el pensamiento divergente, a medida que los estudiantes piensan en nuevas posibilidades para un objeto o sistema; ​​luego apoya el pensamiento convergente, a medida que los estudiantes deciden la manera más efectiva para construir, manipular, re/diseñar o alterar un objeto o un sistema.

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.