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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

FISA BC 2016: Make du Jour- Fostering Daily Critical Creativity


For the video of my presentation (sans slides):

To view slides:

FISA2016 Make du Jour: Fostering Daily Critical Creativity from Amy Burvall

For the Storify of tweets from my presentation click here

People have always told me I was “creative”  – and to be honest, that was not always considered a good thing. “Creative” meant whimsical. “Creative” could oftentimes allude to “moodiness”. And, above all, “creative” meant non-conformist. Growing up I thought being creative had something to do with artistic talent, or, in my Middle School years, the ability to wordsmith and invent elaborate literary scenarios in my “creative writing” courses. Like many, I thought you were born with a pre-determined degree of creativity and that was it – you could either use it or abuse it. Moreover, we weren’t introduced to the concept that exploring any career in the creative industries (I’m not even sure I was aware of what those entailed), could be financially lucrative or in the least bit stable.

My Ideas - 56

Our insight into Creativity has changed, and so has the world. We now understand more about the processes that make creative people productive and successful, and it is evident that the future economy will rely on innovators and creative thinkers rather than factory workers. I don’t think any educator I know has missed Sir Ken Robinson’ s iconic TED talk  in which he boldly states:

“creativity is as important as literacy”


But why? And if it is, then how can we go about teaching it to our future generations, if it is at all “teachable”? What kinds of opportunities and environments can educators provide that will foster and nurture student creativity? Can the process of making help children think more critically and learn content effectively?

For the past several years I’ve been deeply involved in my own creative projects, most of which have incorporated some sort of digital component – from the tools to the platforms to which I share my work. I’ve been privileged to spend the last 15 years of my 22 year teaching career working in schools that emphasize project-based learning and portfolio assessment. Now, I write curriculum based on Creativity and Innovation for EdgeMakers, with students in Brazil, Colombia, India, Arizona, and New York. As a personal fascination, I love reading about the creative processes of famous artists, musicians, authors, and thinkers as well as curating readings on the nature of Creativity itself.

What I’ve learned is that creativity is a WAY, like a “Tao of Dot-Connecting”, and that it can be, to a certain extent, “taught” so that students hone their creative thinking capacities. I am pretty sure that is what happened to me – my mother did activities with me like the “line drawing game” or “wonder walks” and designed my bedroom to be conducive to my creative exploration and expression. She was also constantly making and remixing (repurposing old clothing as newly sewn chic outfits, for example). This was a culture of creativity, and that can be possible in any classroom.


For my FISA BC 2016 interactive presentation, we will be addressing these questions:

Why is it imperative that we cultivate creative thinking with ourselves and our students?

To what extent can creativity be learned and practiced?

What sort of social and physical environments foster creativity?

What is the relationship between creating and learning? (how do  we learn by making? how does creating help us think critically?)


I’d love for participants to get a head start and add your responses to the Google Spread Sheet. (In case you are wondering why I made a spreadsheet rather than a Google Form, which is more aesthetically pleasing, I like the fact that in the spirit of transparency one can see others’ responses).



The overall outline for the presentation is as follows, but keep in mind we will break into partner groups or work independently to practice some different strategies.


  1. Creativity – The Why and the What

  2. why is teaching creativity necessary and how is it possible?

  3. what does it mean to be a creative thinker?

  4. curiosity, courage, connecting dots

  5. tinkering, the power of play and why of whimsy

  6. divergent thinking and design

  1. Creative Thinking – the How

  2. creative constraints

  3. creative habits / schedules

  4. remix and mashup

  5. abstraction

  6. visual thinking

  1. Critical Creativity – Learning from Making

  2. practical ideas for cultivating critical thinking and metacognition with making

  1. Creative Environments – Inside, Outside, and on the Web

  2. the personal creative environment 

  3. optimizing the classroom for creativity

  4. creativity gone mobile (exploring external environments)

  5. assessing and reflecting (how do we assess creative “makes”? how do we ask students to reflect on their creative processes and work?)

  6. crowdsourced creativity (in face to face and virtual environments)



You are also welcome to join the MakeduJour Padlet I’ve created to populate with crowdsourced ideas.




At the end you will have a reflection/ call to action challenge using a strategy I developed called “Wow, How, Now?”

WOW: what surprised or delighted you? What is something you are excited about trying?

HOW: what is a question that lingers for you? What are some of your wonders?

NOW: what are your big takeaways…what is your commitment to implement one or more of these ideas into your life and teaching? What specific ideas can you try right away?

You are welcome to tweet these with the conference hashtag and/or #makedujour (text, annotated images, or sketchnotes). You may also email them to me at or respond in the comment section of this blog post. If you join my G+ community full or resources, you may also post there, in the #showyourwork section.


Looking forward to exploring Creativity with you in beautiful Vancouver! I hope you will have a tool box of practical strategies to implement in your classroom by the end of the session.

Note: Please bring a writing tool and notepad if you have one and, if you like, your device so you may tweet. I will post the slide deck to my SlideShare after the conference so you will not have to take notes.


Join my curated G+ Community on Creativity in the Classroom

Join my RemixED G+ Community on Remix, Mashup, and Re-contextualization

Join my Visual Thinking G+ Community

Watch my TEDx talk

Check out my series of History-based parody music videos

Find my Visual Creative Projects / art / sketchnotes on the Web

View some of my other blog posts on Creativity

View my Bedley Brothers Interview on Creativity Tips for Teachers

View my Adobe Ignite #CreativityEDU webinar 

View my keynote at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities 2015

Learning Bird Webinar: Make du Jour 

Learning Bird blog series, Part I: The Way Back to Wonder

#criticalthinking #creativity #canada #fisabc #making #KenRobinson #conference #googlespreadsheet #Vancouver #amyburvall

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