How do we best prepare young people
for a rapidly changing world?

In response to this question, many leading education experts advocate interdisciplinary, project-based learning. Paired with design thinking, this “maker-centered” approach–a methodology providing a framework for looking closely, exploring complexity and finding opportunity–embraces the development of a wide range of dispositions and hands-on skills. Emergent research from the Agency by Design initiative at Project Zero shows promise for students, especially those from historically marginalized communities, to engage more meaningfully with content and to make rich connections across the curriculum on their own.

The Professional Development Collaborative is leading a project called Agency by Design-DC: Making Across the Curriculum (MAC) that aims to change the paradigm of teaching and learning in DC schools by creating a network of educators who use a maker-centered approach in their classrooms to better empower their students to make their mark on the world.

The second annual MAC conference will take place at WIS on Saturday, May 16, 2020!
For more details and registration, click HERE.
“A key goal of maker-centered learning is to help young people and adults
feel empowered to build and shape their worlds.”
~Agency by Design website

There are two major strands of inquiry for this project:

(1) How can the practices of maker-centered learning be applied across content areas and grade levels?

(2) How can the practices of maker-centered learning be applied to better reach and engage students–especially young people from historically marginalized communities–who struggle to excel within traditional educational structures?

Teachers involved in the project are learning about AbD pedagogical tools and practices in professional development seminars and then are trying them out in the classroom. They bring documentation of student learning to share with their peers.


The initial phase of the project, funded by the Edward E. Ford Foundation and matching funds, included an ongoing researcher-in-residence program. Starting in February 2018, Edward Clapp and Sheya, two Agency by Design (AbD) researchers from Project Zero worked alongside 15 Washington International School teachers, across disciplines and grade levels, introducing AbD concepts as well as various related pedagogical tools. In fall 2018, this group expanded to include 25 teachers from the following public schools across the DC metropolitan area:

  • H.D. Cooke Elementary School (DCPS)
  • DC International Public Charter School
  • MacFarland Middle School (DCPS)
  • Roosevelt High School (DCPS)
  • Van Ness Elementary School (DCPS)

In May 2019, the Collaborative hosted the first-ever Making Across the Curriculum Conference! Educators from around the DMV area gathered at WIS’s Tregaron Campus to hear directly from the teachers who participated in this initiative over the previous year. Clapp and Sheya were the keynote speakers.

In the current academic year, the project lives on as the Making Across the Curriculum Consortium. Four schools (Barrie School, Sacred Heart School, St. Thomas More Academy, and Washington International School) each have recruited a cohort of teachers to participate in MAC. They meet for seminars with Clapp and Sheya four times a year, while also gathering in school-based learning groups to explore AbD ideas.


To learn more about how this project is going, read this blog post published on the Agency by Design website!