All posts by Patricia Pinciotti

Re-imagining Learning and Social Innovation

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This summer folks at the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab have been involved in an exciting social entrepreneurial activity. Found on our twitter feed from Ashoka Changemakers® and the LEGO Foundation was a RE-iMAGiNE LEARNiNG CHALLENGE. How can play transform learning to empower a generation of creative and engaged lifelong learners? Their goal is to map the landscape of innovation in education and build a global network of parents, educators, researchers, administrators and social entrepreneurs. After reviewing the criteria we decided that the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab fit the challenge and went about submitting our project.

The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab became one of the 600+ projects engaged in social innovation mapping utilizing crowd-sourced feedback to both review and shape the projects. Not only were we participants, Pat Pinciotti representing the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, served as a reviewer of other projects, providing feedback and resources to shape other innovative projects across the world.

“This was so exciting to read these diverse creative projects about play and learning from Brasil, France, Afganhistan, India, Costa Rico, NYC, Philadelphia and Ireland to name a few. Each one addressed areas that as a teacher educator I could contribute resources and specific ideas as a critical friend. Along the way, I interacted with some amazing change makers, some who I hope to bring to ESU to share their story.”

The feedback process resulted in two International validations for ESU’s C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, Pat was recognized as a “Trusted Reviewer” in the Challenge AND we reached the Pacesetter Level which takes us to the next step in the RE-iMAGiNE LEARNiNG CHALLENGE: Play2Learn. The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab is moving forward as a model of social innovation using design principles to address social barriers. On to the next LEVEL…..August 20th.



 You did not miss Mike Dawson last week. His C.R.E.A.T.E. lab CHAT is rescheduled for:

WEDNESDAY – APRIL 23RD – 3:00-4:00 PM – STROUD HALL 113      Refreshments immediately following in the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab.
Mike Dawson - Graphis Novelist


Making Learning Visible through Design Thinking

Innovation begins with a Creative Education.

At ESU innovative thinking and working is found in many places. Certain courses ooze with creative work, particularly courses in the Arts and Teacher Education.  In these courses students and faculty explore cutting edge technologies along with innovative processes to both pose and solve problems, while collaborating and thinking with their hands and bodies.   The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, in Stroud 107, is another space where innovation and creative thinking  abounds. The current provocation, Creating Identity: Becoming and Belonging provides multiple opportunities to play, wonder and create in words, images, and three dimensional forms. Currently, David Mazur’s letterform class has an exhibit of “Letters to my future self” in beautiful calligraphy.  Yoshi Tanokura’s costume design class dressed mannequins in costumes from the avant garde to Elizabethan finery. In the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, Rhonda Sutton’s reading class examined their identity as readers through creative journaling, while  Paula Kelberman’s graduate class in creativity explored “other selves” through three-dimensional mask-making.

Recently, sixty student teachers took part in a Making Learning Visible through Design Thinking workshop, led by Pat Pinciotti. They took on an innovation challenge in education using “Design Thinking” to pose and solve a problem. This constructivist approach  is consistent with the TE learning cycle, a critical and creative thinking process that undergirds all of ESU’s Teacher Education programs. The four parts in the process include:

Each team of six students was given a design challenge, some relevant to their ESU teacher education program, others related to teaching and learning strategies within classrooms, while some addressed more pressing global issues in education today.  The ten teams worked for 75 minutes and then shared their ideas with the large group using a variety of technologies.

The Design Thinking model is explained in Tom & David Kelley’s latest book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. Design thinking work at IDEO can be applied for use in today’s classroom. A one page article, “Can design help kids learn? (Metropolis_Feb09explores eight outstanding approaches to reshaping the classroom using innovative ideas similar to ones we used in class.

Please enjoy our student teacher’s reflections on the Making Learning Visible through Design Thinking Project. How did this “design/inquiry process” help you make your collaborative learning visible? What did you learn that was NEW about content, yourself, your team?  What wonderings do you now have about the topic you explored or the process itself? What are you thoughts about reshaping your classroom using design thinking? 




The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab has some exciting experiences to explore your IDENTITY.                     Words, collages, journal making, painting, portraits and funny faces are ways to highlight who we are on any given day. So come and play, stop by and create who you are?             What have YOU done creative today?

OPEN: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 11-4 in Stroud 107

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein   ~   Mask by Amy Jorgensen


Where do creative ideas come from?

The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab is open with a NEW Provocation for spring 2014!

The new provocation, CREATING IDENTITY: Becoming and Belong required a new look, a new…well identity. We struggled to find the right feeling  to set the tone that would engage visitors in these new exciting explorations. We all decided that “identity” needed something reflective, maybe even metallic. So we looked at a variety of paints and colors. Nothing was quite right..and we all left for winter break, hoping for an inspiration.

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Traveling is a great way to jog your creative brain. You do not need to go to exotic places — just different ones. Place yourself in different environments with different people and begin to pay attention and document your inspirations. Over break I visited family and friends in Ohio…taking me away from the pressing goals of the new semester and into a storehouse of memories, thoughts, feelings, and daydreams about time past.  In a funky cafe in Cincinnati, Ohio I sat staring at a wall, taking time with a creative friend, enjoying past adventures woven with ideas about teaching while lamenting about not being able to find a color for the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab. And all of a sudden I saw what was right in front of me…not one color, but a pattern of colors with the reflection of silver and gold on a wonderful pale blue wall.  Scott Barry Kaufman , author of “Ungifted: Intelligence redefined” talks about the special collision between our inner and outer world as being the best place to uncover creative ideas.  That wall was my creative collision for identity, so I snapped a photo to document my inner/outer connection.

Identity is a dynamic concept. We are forever becoming, absorbing new ideas about who we are, trying them on, selecting, editing, and redefining the colors that “fit” for the moment. Our interactions with others in different places and situations affords opportunities to belong in increasingly intersecting circles that create the pattern of who we are. The design on the cafe wall, the colorful movement of silver and gold leaves in a store window reminding me of the song “Make new friends and keep the old…” and the changing lines and values in a hotel lobby painting set the feeling for CREATING IDENTITY: Becoming and Belonging.

The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab is open on Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-4:30 and Wednesday from 10:00 -4:30. Stop by the lab and explore your IDENTITY or CREATE a new one!  Check out our Calendar of Events…Lots of becoming and belonging going on in February, March, and April. Travel down to Stroud 107, put yourself in a different kind of space and uncover your creative ideas.





The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab team is in the process of making decisions for our spring provocation – Identity: Becoming and Belonging. This interactive space will include some very exciting ways to explore and create your identity including a range of multi-literacies: art, writing, drama, and technology.

One of our most pressing questions is – WHAT COLOR IS IDENTITY? Add your color ideas here and if we pick your color you will receive a CREATIVE SURPRISE!  All suggestions must be in by January 13th.



Screen shot 2013-12-05 at 7.00.53 PMThe exhibit A CREATIVE SPECTRUM is open from 10 am – 4 pm daily in Stroud 1-7.  Stop by and see the learning and creativity that was generated from our initial provocation COLOR & LIGHT in the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab over the fall semester.  The five themes that emerged from the documentation are curated within the exhibit and encompass:

  1. “Felt Sense”, what learning in the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab feels like;
  2. Thinking with your Hands, the powerful connection between the hands and brain, particularly through the playful use of loose parts;
  3. A Creative Mindset and the imaginative work produced in a space dedicated to innovation and creative problem-solving;  
  4. Color & Light Understandings gained through the provocative explorations;
  5.  ESU Sees COLOR,  a social media exploration of the colors student see weekly around ESU that were then instagrammed to the Picture Blog on the website . Please post your comments after you visit the exhibit on this page….REPLY.

The success of the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab is built on the collaborative engagement and creative energy of multiple people across campus and in the larger community. Over 150 people visited the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab from September to November. We are amazed at the outpouring of generosity from faculty and students who shared their expertise freely both in the lab, across campus and as far away as the University of Illinois. We are grateful for the good work and support from the following people.

Protagonists – Color & Light Planning Team: Diane Cavanagh, Special Education, Nancy Daniels, Community Educator, Sara Hoffman, Grad Assistant, David Mazur, Art & Design, and Pat Pinciotti, ECE/ElEd

Supporters – With expertise and energy to make it happen: Curt Burton, Andrea Briller, Julian Costa, Pam Kramer-Ertel, Brenda Friday, Lindsay Godin, Jill Nobel, Armar Madineni, Lyndsay McColgan, Mary Frances Postupak, Peter Prium, Amber Trunfio, Stroud Courier,  Gina Scala, John Stabinger, Evan Stokes, Luis Vidal, WESS Radio, Andrew Whitehead, Melanie Zabowski and the Departments of Special Education and Rehabilitation and Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

Collaborators – Engaged students and others  in C.R.E.A.TE. lab learning: Peter Prium ~ Philosophy, ESU Art Association, Nancy Daniels ~ Community Educator; Rhonda Sutton ~ Reading classes, Alberto Alegre ~ ECE classes, Andrew Whitehead ~ ECE classes, David Mazure ~ 2 D Design class, Pat Pinciotti ~ Projects & Play and Teacher Researcher classes, Diane Cavanagh ~ Rehabilitative Services class, Beth Scockman ~ Media Technology, Liora Bresler ~ University of Illinois, Aesthetics in Education class,  Liaisons & Principals ~ ESU Professional Development Schools

The SPRING PROVOCATION will be Creating Identity: Becoming and Belonging. Join us and get your Creative ON!

Colorful Expressions

All you need is a wall, a sidewalk, and a piece of chalk! ESU Student ART Association and the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab co-sponsored a Chalking event to expand ideas about Creativity and Color into the campus environment. What transpired was more than just “making marks”, but social interactions revolving around collaboration and extending another’s image or idea. The event also became a social media with messages to be shared visually and communicated to others through instagram, tweets, and texts. Everyone left, whether a chalker or observer left with a smile.

A Reggio-Inspired Journey

Last fall three College of Education professors and two students traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy on a Study Tour to explore a constructive approach to educating young learners. Our conversations were rich with ideas about teaching and learning across the US and globally, since our group included educators from across the world. With Reggio pedagogistas and our colleagues at the Loris Malaguzzi International Center , in classrooms, and over great food and wine in the lovely town of Reggio Emilia we talked and wondered and dreamed.


Elise DeCasale, Diane Cavanagh, Margaret Benson, Evan Stokes; Photo by Pat Pinciotti 

Our conversations continued after returning from Reggio and resulted in a collaborative reflection from the Study Group (REGGIO Study Tour Beliefs) along with visits to Reggio inspired schools in Florida and Brooklyn. The questions we kept asking ourselves was how can we bring this exciting way of thinking and working to our ESU campus? How can we use Reggio-inspired ideas to promote creative thinking and innovation across campus? How can we bring the experience of a “pedagogy of listening” and the documentation process to our teaching? Where can we promote opportunities to value diversity, a hundred languages, learning relationships, and aesthetic experiences and inquiry in our own ESU environment? Our goal was to make this happen….

We believe that Innovation begins with a Creative Education and so we began broadening our conversations to include faculty across campus and within the College of Education to make this dream a reality. The result of our Reggio-Inspired Journey is the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab housed in Stroud 107. The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab is a place for provocative ideas, creative inquiry, and documented discoveries about learning and teaching. Each semester there is a provocation to explore both in the C.R.E.A.TE. lab, with events and happenings across campus as well as a virtual environment supporting social media interactions. Visit our website often and come to our events or stop in our C.R.E.A.T.E. lab and get energized. The initial provocation is Color & Light with protagonists from Art & Design (David Mazur), Media Technology (Richard Otto), Nancy Daniels a community educator, and Diane Cavanagh (Special Education) and Pat Pinciotti (ECED/ELED).

Our journey has just begun, but as they say in Reggio…“Utopia serves to make us walk, not accepting mobility as a strategy to life. It is the walking together that makes the road.” Come join the adventure!