Creativity in Las Vegas

by | Monday, October 25, 2010

I was recently invited to present a keynote address at the 21st Century Instructional Technology Conference (titled Elements of Technology) at the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clark County is the 5th largest school district in the country with over 300,000 students and it was a great privilege to be invited to present there. I was invited there by the Instructional Technology Department (led by Loretta Asay) and my contact person was Project Facilitator, Sherwood Jones. They are a great group of people and I truly had a wonderful time there.

Apart from the Keynote I also conducted a workshop on Creativity and Teaching with Technology. I had anticipated having around 25 people for the workshop but the room was overflowing (at least 15 more than I had anticipated). That did throw a few kinks into my routine but nothing that was unsurmountable. I am sharing below some of the things that people created during this two hour workshop.

I explained my idea of a creative idea or product as being Novel, Effective and Whole (the so called New NEW)! This led Terra Graves, Thomasina Rose and Kristina Ernest to create this acrostic poem.



Outside the Box

Here are a few more from Lisa Widmer, Katie Jones, Brent Mesenburg and Robert Jackson

The first two are limericks that summarize some of the things we had talked about in the first half of the workshop.

Creativity is our goal
Make it Novel Effective and Whole
When in doubt
Turn it about
And satisfy your soul

A second, funnier, version is as follows:

Creativity is our goal
Make it Novel Effective and Whole
When in doubt
Don’t Freak out
It’s quite alright if you stole

The same team wrote another poem, synthesizing some of the ideas we played with in the second half of the workshop.

Being creative is like heaven
Mimic the great Magellan
And fear not missteps
Just use the five steps
And crank that knob to eleven

The “crank the knob to eleven” of course being a response to the (in)famous scene from This is Final Tap.

A couple of other pieces that emerged from this team (can you tell this was a prolific group) was the quote:

“Tweak it to Teach it”

Somewhat along the same lines was Patrick Whitehead who suggested the following two:

Thinking is tweaking your mind

Think better… TWEAK your mind!

Apart from this display of verbal dexterity, the participants also completed a “letter search” task where they looked for letter that spell out the word “Relax, Repose, Reteach.” I had done a similar activity with students in our MAET program a year ago in Plymouth. Essentially what I did was create a somewhat awkward problem scenario the solution to which were the words Relax, Repose, Reteach. So these were the letters students searched for… and this is what they came up with.

Now for the twist! As it turns out one of the themes of the keynote (and the workshop) were the three words “Explore, Create, Share.” Students watched each of the three videos that we had created (see them here) as well as the mashup that had inspired us to begin with (see the original and the mashup here).

What the students didn’t know was that the three words (Relax, Repose, Reteach) could be rearranged to read… (surprise, surprise) the words Create, Explore, Share!! Here is what that looks like…

I must give a shout-out to High School Freshman Bryan Jones who I “volunteered” to help me out. He had a tough job, collecting all the pictures since there were multiple cameras (from regular digital cameras to iPhones), missing cables, a mac that was running Windows (which mean iPhoto wouldn’t cooperate)… and he had to pull everything together in around 25 minutes while the workshop was still going on… And he managed it without fuss and stress. Thanks!

Finally, we all watched the new Steven Johnson video “Where good ideas come from” and created demotivational posters based on what they heard and saw. Below is the video (just in case you haven’t seen it already) and below that the posters the students created.



Choose Wisely

Patrick Whitehead
Tim Hart


Karen Decker
Terry Ector

Don’t Worry

Michael C. Gregory


This is a hunch

Thomasina Rose
Kristina Ernest
Terra Graves


Brandi Mizner
Beth Pearson
Holly Marich
Laurie Koelliker
Gary Eisnor


Roger Mayo
Matt Keener

As you can imagine this was a hectic workshop for all of us. We covered a lot of ground and the participants also created some interesting artifacts that can have a life beyond the immediate workshop. What fun!

A few randomly selected blog posts…

Designing Theory: New article

Designing Theory: New article

Theory is of incredible importance to scholars and researchers. Theories allow us to understand, explain and predict phenomena in the world. That said it is often difficult to say just where theories come from. The standard model—that data lead to laws, that in turn...

Gilbert Daniels, the gardener who changed our world

Gilbert Daniels, the gardener who changed our world

Note: I wrote and submitted this piece as an op-ed to the Indianapolis Star to be published on April 14, 2023, exactly 3 years after they had published Gilbert Daniels' obituary. It would have helped set the record straight about his amazing contribution to the world...

Scaling up the SCALE Instrument

Scaling up the SCALE Instrument

Back in 2017, Carmen Richardson and I wrote an article (Richardson & Mishra, 2017) in which we  proposed an instrument (Support of Creativity in Learning Environment: SCALE) designed to assess the ways in which a learning environment supports student...

Design thinking, some resources

I teaching CEP817, Learning Technology by Design in the spring semester. This is a course I love but it also one that needs to be redesigned. So I am always on the look-out for new resources that can help me rethink the class. I just came across the following website:...

Meeting Sanjaya Mishra

Yesterday I met with Sanjaya Mishra, a scholar and researcher in the area of distance education. Sanjaya and I first met at the Vidyakash conference a bunch of years ago and we clicked almost immediately. I always enjoy meeting up with him when I am in Delhi, though...

Jere Brophy, 1940 – 2009

There is a nice article in the State News about Jere Brophy including quotes from his daughter Cheri Spier, my department chair Dick Prawat, and my former advisee (now faculty member at Drexel) Aroutis Foster. Read MSU professor dies, honored by colleagues as field...

Momentary Lapis Lazuli of Reason: Academia for better or verse

Momentary Lapis Lazuli of Reason: Academia for better or verse

Graduate school can be a grind. Academia can be dull and dreary. But not if poetry and parody are brought into the mix. This is a volume of academic poetry titled Momentary Lapis Lazuli of Reason: Academia for better or verse. The poems in this volume are...

Rethinking 7/8 curriculum at Miami/Globe

Rethinking 7/8 curriculum at Miami/Globe

One of the most exciting parts of my job are the cool people I get to meet. Glen Lineberry is one of them. Glen is Principal at Miami Junior-Senior High School. He describes his school as a “small rural school on the move.” The first thing that strikes you when you...

The futility of existence, Part II: What now?

So there's this guy who wants to get into a balloon. Don't ask why but he does. So he inflates these large balloons and tries to squeeze into them. And he fails for the most part. And of course all of this is documented on YouTube. For instance you can see his second...


  1. Josh G

    Honestly, I think school and creativity are at odds with one another. School is about learning the proper way to do something. On the other hand, creativity is forging your own path.

    Also, I’m a huge fan of Steven Johnson.

  2. Mike FD

    Being creative is a great way to “use one’s brain”. It is also a great way to learn because the results are visible and the creator can take ownership and gain a sense of achievement(and pride).

    The comments associated with the photographs showed insight, and highlight the connection between thought and imagery. I felt spoilt as the viewer because the mental work had been done!

    Thanks for the post

  3. Punya Mishra

    Brent, you are too kind. It was a pleasure being with all of you for two days. The 2 hr workshop was too short by far – but it was fun, none the less. It was only when I started putting this blog post together that I realized just how much has been done!

    I hope to come back to CCSD sometime… hopefully we will be able to work something out for a more extended session.

    Take care ~punya

  4. Brent Mesenburg

    I considered being in your workshop a great honor. Being part of the Nevada Pathway project, we were required to view your Youtube video’s on TPACK. For my masters class we had to evaluate and summarize an article about technology in education….I wrote about TPACK. I consider it a great honor in my professional career that I had the opportunity to not only hear you, but also learn from you. Thank you so much.

    Brent Mesenburg


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