Ellis School unConferance

The Ellis School is counting on their reputation for being one of the top Design Thinking Schools in the country to inspire educators from across the county to rethink how they approach learning.

The Learning Innovation Institute at Ellis is hosting a Design Thinking unConference on October 18 at its campus in Shadyside. Lisa Abel-Palmieri, director of the Learning Innovation Institute, said the aim of the first-annual conference is to bring together K-12 educators from public, private and charter schools to share ideas and experiences for teaching creative problem solving to students.

The day will be guided by the Stanford University K12Lab Mindsets, Abel-Palmieri said.”The concept is that it isn’t a teacher giving students a problem and then telling them what the solution is,” she added. “It’s getting the student’s engaged in learning and giving them the bigger picture so they can develop empathy for the true problem.”

One example, Abel-Palmieri said, is to pose to students how would a school campus go about achieving environmental sustainability. Students would shadow leaders on campus, observe them, ask questions and then develop ideas and test them.

The event, sponsored by The Sprout Fund, has about 35 teachers registered so far, Abel-Palmieri said, including educators from the Environmental Charter School in Frick Park. She said the unConference format will group teachers into teams and let them pick a challenge that is unique to their own schools.

“The format is so important because we don’t want the traditional format of a keynote speaker telling them what Design Thinking is,” Abel-Palmieri said.

The event is free and The Sprout Fund will provide coffee and water throughout the day, with lunch catered by Metz Culinary.

To register or for more information, visit www.ellisinnovation.org

“It’s about making connections and bringing so many people to the table to learn from each other,” Abel-Palmieri said. “Too often we are silos between public, private and charter schools. Why can’t be all come together?”

Jill spent 18 years in journalism working as a reporter and editor for newspapers and television stations across the country, covering crime and courts and specializing in breaking news. A native Pittsburgher and single mother, she lives on the North Side.