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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

Amy Burvall: Keynotes and Workshops

I’ve decided to update my list of talks and workshops and compile all into a pdf menu.

I’m able to customize most of them to fit certain time frames or address specific needs. I really love the “deep dives” or 3-4 hour workshops with groups of 20-50. The variety of offerings related to my book with Dan Ryder, Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom can also be given with Dan if he is available. I’ve done two TEDx talks (TEDxHonolulu 2011 and TEDxWestVancouverED 2017), Ignite talks at SXSWEdu, IpadPalooza, and ISTE, as well as keynoted events such as Alan November’s Building Learning Communities and FISA in Vancouver, Canada.

Other offerings include bespoke consultancy on digital storytelling, visual literacy, visible thinking (including metacognition and digital portfolios), tech integration, IB Theory of Knowledge, and of course, creativity.

I love doing voice-overs and graphic facilitation for events as well, and have even dabbled in creating custom graphics for clients to use in their media.

Perhaps my favourite thing is designing creative learning experiences for all ages. Beyond the K-12 organization, I have done this for several corporate conferences and professional development retreats and aspire to work with museums.

All my slide decks are comprised of my original artwork. All resources are available to participants, and for most of my offerings, I include membership to my curated online communities so the conversation and learning can continue well beyond the event.


Keynote: The Rigorous Whimsy Mindset

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in creativity.

Time: 1 hour (can be adapted to 1.5-2 hours)

Amy shares insights from her book with Dan Ryder: Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, which stems from the belief that “if they build it they will get it”. Critical Creativity is students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content. When students make connections, transform knowledge, and articulate the reason behind their creative choices, learning becomes more sticky, meaningful, and authentic. This keynote explores the Why and the How of creativity in learning, addressing how creativity works, and offers practical tips for implementing creativity in any lesson, for any age group, and any discipline.

#getSmART: Lessons from Artists

Ideal for: anyone interested in creativity, art, or learning (this can be adapted to suit specific audiences)

Time: 15-20 min (“TED” style) or 1 hour

While everyone is both a work of art and an artist, not everyone thinks like one. What can the ways in which famous artists lived their lives, as well as their creative processes, teach us? In this inspiring talk Amy Burvall shares poignant takeaways from the lives of DaVinci and Michelangelo, the Impressionists, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Kahlo and Warhol. Through anecdotes, quotes, and metaphorical imagery, these apologues serve as digestible life lessons educators and leaders can embrace in their own intellectual and creative lives and share with students or team members.

*this talk was given at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities 2015 and, in a different form, at TEDxWestVancouverED 2017

Keynote: Meaning from the “Madmen”

Ideal for: educators K-12 and Higher Ed; administrators; Corporate; anyone interested in creativity

Time: 15-30 min “TED” style talk or 1 hour

Amy shares insights from midcentury marketing minds, exploring takeaways from the creative thinking of iconic innovators in advertising: George Lois, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Hal Riney to name a few. Their work and approach provides insight into teaching, learning, and making, and this talk attempts to highlight key analogies that can be used to improve pedagogy at all levels. Some key topics are:

Embrace the Essence; Truth = Relevance; Understand the Now; Dip into Other Buckets / Play With Others; Strive for Simplicity; Feel Trumps Fact.

Keynote: Once Upon a Faerie Tale

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development)

Time: a 15-30 min “TED” style talk or a 1 hour keynote

What can faerie tales teach us about learning, teaching, and working? Amy shares takeaways from famous faerie tales, including the power of “three”, “leaving bread crumbs”, and dealing with the “scary woods”. Through use of metaphor from these well-known narratives, Amy highlights ways in which we can work, communicate, and learn with the utmost empathy, creativity, and productivity.

Keynote: PunkED

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development)

Time: a 15-30 min “TED” style talk

What can the ethos of punk rock teach us about effective pedagogy? Amy explores themes such as “bricolage”, “DIY mentality”, and “Going Rogue for Right” in this unique, inspiring talk with an edgy vibe.


Intention: Interactive Keynote/Workshop

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in creativity.

Time: (can be adapted to 1.5 – 4 hours)

Amy shares insights from her book with Dan Ryder: Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, which stems from the belief that “if they build it they will get it”. Critical Creativity is students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content. This interactive keynote explores the nature of creativity and its importance in learning experiences. Participants are guided through various exercises from the Creativity Catalog in Intention which are applicable to any content area or age group.

Workshops: Critical Creativity

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in creativity.

Time: 1-2 hours for each part

Amy introduces a host of activities from her book with Dan Ryder, Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom which can be adapted to any content or subject area. Participants will engage in creating with words, images, sounds, “stuff”, the body, social media, and others and explore how these “recipes” for intentional creative expression can be seamlessly integrated with any curriculum.

Part I: Creating with Words, Sounds, Images

Part II: Creating with Stuff, the Body, Others, Social Media

Deep Dive: Critical Creativity

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in creativity.

Time: 5-8 hours (best as a 2 day workshop of 4 hours each)


Participants will identify benefits of creative expression as a means of deeper understanding

Participants will experiment with creative exercises and strategies applicable across the content areas

Participants will design a plan for integrating creative expression into their impact areas

This workshop is based on the book Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder (EdTechTeamPress,2017). Critical Creativity is:

“students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content”. When students make connections, transform knowledge, articulate the reason behind their creative choices, learning becomes more sticky, meaningful, and authentic. How might we choreograph an epiphany, remix an analysis, doodle a movement, costume a theme, hashtag a philosophy? Acts of making needn’t be limited in size or scope, method or medium, nor need they be mere exercises of imagination or engineering. Creation reveals comprehension. Our students’ increasingly diverse toolbox for expression, both analog and digital, emboldens the creative spirit into a force for authentic understanding, a vehicle for demonstrating proficiency. Come with an open mind and nagging curiosity; leave with a concrete plan and bevy of strategies for integrating innovative imagination into your daily classroom practice.

This workshop will offer participants an opportunity to practice various activities applicable to any classroom within the following themes:

Wonder-Fueled Writing: Creating with Words

Listening is Knowing: Creating with Sounds

Seeing the Beauty of the Bigger Picture: Creating with Images

Building to a Better Understanding: Creating with Stuff

Shape of the Content: Creating with the Body

Collisions and Collaborations: Creating with Others

Dare to Share: Creating with Social Media

We’ll examine how creativity thrives on context- time, trust, and tools – and how carefully crafted constraints or “recipes” can actually increase the potential for creative thinking.

Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom is a “living book” – each activity in the Creativity Catalog is assigned a unique hashtag so that educators can share and the authors can curate examples of how teachers around the globe are using and remixing the strategies.

Cultivating Creativity in Work and in Life

Creativity is not just for artists. Creativity is an essential human trait and has been identified as one of the key skills for an unpredictable, ever-changing future in the age of automation. From the C-Suite to the Kindergarten classroom, everyone wants to think and act more creatively. Creativity is often confused with talent, but it is in fact a way of being, and something that can be cultivated as a mindset and capacity. The business sector needs flexible, agile thinkers and risk-takers for broad, strategic planning as well as troubleshooting tactical problems. In all divisions of education, learners and teachers need to tap into innate curiosity, grow creative confidence, and tinker with possibilities and perspectives. Creativity can be personally cathartic, sharpen our critical thinking, and make us masters of communication. Most importantly, creativity is content agnostic – all ages and all domains benefit from thinking and working more creatively.

What this workshop offers:

  1. Insights into “Creativity Literacy” – just what is the nature of creativity and how does it work?

  2. Exploration of creative concepts such as metaphorical thinking, remix, wonder, dot-connecting, shifting perspective, environments, ideation, and habits

  3. Hands-on, fun practice with a variety of digital and analog tools and mediums

  4. A set of “creative constraints” that can be used as prompts for students or teams of any age and in any discipline

  5. Understanding and practice of creative problem-solving skills to spark and sustain innovation

What is the vibe of the learning experience?

Abraham Maslow noted that “all creativity involves purposeful play” and Albert Einstein defined creativity as “Intelligence having fun”. The workshop experience is full of joyful learning! It is highly interactive and involves learning by doing, collaboration, lots of making, and reflection.

The activities allow participants to practice new thinking in real time and gain takeaways for a sustainable creative practice.

Who benefits from this learning experience?

  1. Educators in any division (K-Higher Ed)

  2. Team leaders / Coaches / Facilitators / Administration

  3. Anyone interested in understanding the nuances of creativity and improving their personal creativity / developing a creative habit

Corporate: Cultivating Critical Creativity

Ideal for: Learning and Development (L and D); facilitators; managers; corporate leaders

Time: 2-5 hours

This workshop explores the Why and How of creativity in learning and working, addressing how creativity works, and providing participants with a host of opportunities to practice divergent and lateral thinking. The emphasis is on meaning through making, with content and discipline-agnostic strategies, collaboration, design, and reflection. We’ll examine how creativity thrives on context- time, trust, and tools – and how carefully curated constraints can actually increase the potential for innovation. Participants will leave with concrete, practical tips for implementing creativity in any lesson or group facilitation and how to grow in one’s own creative capacities in personal and professional life.

Workshop: Image is Everything (Visual Thinking)

Ideal for: anyone interested in Visual Thinking/Literacies or Media; educators K-12 and Higher Ed (can be adapted to corporate facilitation)

Time: 2-4 hours or all day (can be adapted to 1 hour)

This hands-on workshop will explore the “Whys” of visual literacy and offer participants an opportunity to tinker and play with a variety of strategies applicable to any curriculum or learning environment. We’ll experiment with ways to use visual language for personal knowledge management, amplification of knowledge and creative work, critical thinking, social interaction (conversation),and other forms of creative and intellectual expression.

Topics include: iconography, metaphorical thinking, synthesis, sketch-notes, infographics, graphic design, film, and photography.

Workshop: RemixED

Ideal for: educators K-12 and Higher Ed; anyone interested in media, digital technologies or remix culture

Time: 2-4 hours (can be adapted to an all day workshop)

Our students are engrossed in remix culture – they are the appropriation and re-contextualization generation. Remix calls for knowledge and understanding, critical, higher-order, and design thinking, a variety of tech skills, and, frequently, collaboration and navigation in the greater media landscape. Most importantly a remix task offers students a chance to truly transform a work and create something unique – something that will contribute to their digital presence and legacy. This session is part pedagogical/philosophical and part participatory / hands-on. Attendees will leave with a “goodie-bag” of resources and ideas as well as have the opportunity to develop, practice, and share several types of remix projects.

Workshop: Think Like a Coder

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in CT or coding

Time: 2 hours (can be adapted to 1 hour or up to 4 hours)

Learning to code is undoubtedly one of the most sought after skills, but the first step to understanding how to think like a coder. Computational thinking is more than a skill set – it’s a mind set, and it’s something we all do to some level in our daily activities. In this workshop, participants engage in strategies like decomposition, abstraction, pattern-spotting, and algorithms in a completely analogue environment. That’s right – no digital technology is needed! We explore habits of mind such as tinkering, remix, perseverance and debugging, and identify ways in which computational thinking can be acknowledged and practiced in the classroom or organization. Participants will also receive an extensive curated list of coding and CT resources.

Workshop: Mad for Metaphor

Ideal for: anyone involved in the communication of ideas (learner / teacher / corporate)

Time: can be adapted for 1-4 hours

Images can essentialize the cumbersome in beautiful ways. They have a “stickiness” for the viewer and challenge the critical thinking of the creator. This immersive, hands-on session explores the power of metaphorical thinking paired with visualization. Participants will have a chance to sketch with the creative constraints of over 25 prompts. These exercises will both push one’s thinking and hone visual communication skills.

Workshop: What Would DaVinci Do?

Ideal for: anyone interested in creativity, art, or learning (this can be adapted to suit specific audiences)

Time: 3-4 hours

In this inspiring workshop participants will first learn about the lives and creative processes of pivotal visual artists that shaped their artistic output. We will then visualize and “soundbit-ify” our big takeaways collaboratively and create unique manifestos based on our findings. Finally, we will brainstorm practical uses for these “lessons from the artists” – both in our lives and work/classroom spaces. This session is for anyone interested in how creativity works and how to foster creative thinking, perseverance, and resilience in oneself and one’s students or team.

Workshop: The Cloud is our Campfire

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in creativity, media, or digital storytelling.

Time: 2-3 hours (can be adapted to and all day workshop)

We are a social, storytelling species. Amy’s tagline, “the cloud is our campfire”, alludes to the present state of storytelling – enabled by digital tools and amplified by connectivity. In this workshop, Amy highlights some inspiring examples of combinatorial creativity – how can we “crowdsource” creativity to develop shared artistic and narrative experiences? Participants will explore ways to create collaboratively, starting from the individual and proceeding to an organizational and global level. 

Workshop: Sparks and Embers

Ideal for: educators K-12 and Higher Ed; administrators; anyone interested in metacognition or creativity

Time: 1-2 hours

Amy shares unique Introduction, Provocation, and Reflection strategies for creative and critical thinking. What types of introductions may learners engage in that create a sense of culture? What kinds of “do nows” and provocations help learners become immersed in the content from the very start? As they wrap up a project or unit, what are innovative ways learners may reflect upon their work and process? How can technology be leveraged to amplify their thinking and creativity, and extend the learning beyond the campus? This session will explore innovative,fun, challenging strategies educators or any group facilitator will find useful to increase interest and thoughtfulness in any content area.

Mobile Sapiens: Found Art & Story Safari

Ideal for: conference participants; educators K-12 and Higher Ed; anyone interested in creativity/ making

Time: 1-2 hour OFF SITE exploration (can be adapted as a retreat)

For this unique, fun, scavenger hunt-like experience participants will need a sense of adventure, a mobile device (list of relevant apps will be shared before the event), and a desire to create some found art and narrative. Experimenting with found art sharpens one’s senses and better prepares the mind for creative thinking – that is, connecting dots in unique ways. Participants get a chance to explore the surrounding environment, co-create with each other, and hone their individual sense of playfulness and creativity. Strategies may also be used in classrooms or in team-building, and everyone leaves the workshop seeing the world in a different way.

Workshop: Grow and Show an Idea

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development); anyone interested in communication

Time: 2 hours (can be adapted to an interactive 1 hour talk)

This talk / workshop explores effective ideation strategies (how to generate ideas) and amplification strategies (how to communicate ideas and gain traction). Participants practice techniques for both individual and collaborative idea-making and hone their visual and verbal communication skills using a variety of digital and analogue tools.

Workshop: #DigitalDada

Ideal for: educators (K-12, higher ed); anyone interested in creativity, art, media

Time: 1-2 hours (can be adapted to an all day workshop)

What happens when the artist…meets the app? The inter-war avant-garde art movement DADA is celebrating its centennial, but never has it been more relevant. Just as the Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara and Max Ernst made us rethink what art was and who an artist could be, digital technology has democratized both the production and distribution of creative work. Moreover, in this exponentially changing world, thinking like an artist is essential.

This workshop explores why that is so, and offers participants a chance to tinker with Dadaist and Surrealist techniques using powerful apps in innovative ways. How can concepts such as Chance, Assemblage, Exquisite Corpse, Montage, and Readymade be used learners to further their thinking, or leaders to amplify a message?

We will work in a hybrid environment, mixing the analog with the digital. All you will need is a mobile device – that multi-media studio in your pocket and the following recommended apps:

Enlight, Over, Paper 53, Splice

Creative Culture-Building

Ideal for: administrators/ leaders; educators (K-12, higher ed, Learning and Development)

Time: ongoing consultancy, deep-dives (can be adapted to a 1 hour talk)

How might we cultivate a creative culture in the organization? Amy shares ideas for “culture-building” – practical and innovative strategies any team, organization, or school can use to foster a sense of creativity, trust, and collaboration. Participants explore a variety of “creative constraints” that can spark divergent thinking as well as tips on maximizing the creativity potential of the physical space.

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