Keynotes and Workshops
that have an impact upon daily practic

In the current economy, very few schools have money for professional development. With resources being so scarce, every hour of staff learning must be practical and full of impact. It must pass the test of Monday morning - equipping teachers with powerful techniques to improve student results. Better questioning. Stronger inference. Improved comprehension. Persuasive thinking and writing.

Jamie's sessions pass this test. They are exciting because of his dramatic presentation style, but they are also sensible and down-to-earth.


Popular Topics

Contact Jamie at to arrange a day.


Blue Sky Learning

Jamie McKenzie has developed a series of presentations and workshops that will stress learning strategies promoting student comprehension, invention and production at the highest possible levels of excellence and rigor - strategies that will require more of students than the Core Standards. After ten years of dismal educational reform efforts that have effectively lowered the bar, he is calling for an approach that is far more demanding and worthwhile. These sessions will be marked by optimism, inspiration and challenge.

Eight Presentations or Two Days of Workshops

You can pick any of these sessions for a conference or might combine several of them into one or two workshop days.


Engaging students in making good new ideas.
Every student a thinker!

Recent photographs of Jamie leading hands-on workshop for the Department of Defense Schools in Frankfurt, Germany. Photos courtesy of Jack Higbee

How can teachers equip students with both the skills and the attitudes to fuel a lifetime thirst for discovery?

How can teachers inspire students to wrestle with great challenges and questions of import?

How can teachers develop a respect for novel ideas, original thought and production marked by excellence?



Learn how to get off
the beaten path — how to explore
and develop fresh possibilities.

Unlock the rare, the fresh
and the often hidden ideas
that may inspire original thinking.

Breaking the Code

Comprehension of difficult material must be a priority teaching students how to read and then understand across a dozen or more types of information. In this session, Jamie lays out an approach to inference that empowers students to tackle even the most challenging passages, photographs, databases or videos. He suggests a toolkit of interpretation strategies that will sharpen the thinking, clarify the vision and tighten the students' grasp of elusive meanings and possibilities.

Finding the Right Stuff

Even though the Web has made access to information quite easy, there are many times when the most important information is quite hard to locate. In this session, Jamie shows how significant research requires sharply honed search skills that include an awareness of the Hidden Web as well as search engine options that can free one from the "filter bubble" caused by surrender to Google's helpfulness. He provides an approach to questioning and exploration that will help students manage the new information landscape and wrestle with the intangible, impalpable, and ambiguous. When the goal of research is the solving of mysteries and the creation of new understandings as opposed to mere cut-and-paste scooping, students must be quite ingenious — resourceful, enterprising, inspired, clever, and skillful.

Mother of Invention

Most curriculum documents now call for students to come up with good new ideas instead of relying upon conventional wisdom and the thinking of others. If we wish all students to be capable of innovative thinking, then synthesis strategies should be central to any learning program. In this session, Jamie outlines the types of strategies that should be included in everyone's synthesis toolkit and suggests adult learning strategies to equip all staff with those strategies as well as ways to share them with students.

Making the Case

If we expect our students to take a stand on the important issues of the day as well as their own lives, then they must be able to support their choices and positions with a well structured series of arguments bolstered by adequate evidence and a logical framework. In this session, Jamie shows how we might lead students past the investigation phase into the argumentation phase.


Are any of the claims in this video suspect? mythical?

Debunking the Myth

In these times of spin, deception and false claims, debunking has become a survival skill. Things are often quite different from what they appear to be. When we accept claims and reports at face value there is a substantial risk that we will be hoodwinked. In this session, Jamie sketches out the kinds of critical thinking skills that will enable students to see beyond the surface claims to weigh authenticity, value and veracity.

Blue Sky Thinking

We expect the young to make this a better world - to dream,to aspire and to reach for the stars. Langston Hughes once spoke of dreams in a manner that has great significance for this generation . . .
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

In this session, Jamie shows how wondering, wandering, hoping and dreaming may team to inspire students to conceptualize new possibilities.


Closely related to Blue Sky Thinking, imagining relies quite strongly upon visual thinking and vision. This kind of visualization has always been an interest of effective teachers, but it has rarely received the formal attention it deserves in curriculum documents across the globe. Given the global culture's reliance upon images to communicate and the vital role visualizing plays in developing future scenarios, imagining should be a prized habit of mind. In this session Jamie shows how we can equip students to increase the power of their imaginations.

Challenging and Changing

Things could be different, but in order for the young to see those possibilities, they must learn to challenge and question the way it has always been and the way it is spozed to be. This is as much a matter of attitude as a set of skills. For centuries the holders of power have chafed at the idea of teaching the young to challenge authority of ask how things might be changed. This resistance continues today in the corridors of power, whether they be school district offices, corporate offices or palaces. The emperor still parades without clothing and without any complaints. In this session, Jamie devotes special attention to the attitudinal aspects of this challenging behavior.

To bring Jamie to your conference, your school, or
your region, send him an email asking about costs and dates.