About Our Keynotes










Workshop Keynote Speakers


Garfield Gini-Newman

Garfield Gini-Newman blends humor with a deep understanding of effective curriculum design centered around the infusion of critical thinking for all. 
As an associate professor at OISE/University of Toronto and a senior national consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium, Garfield has worked with thousands of teachers across grades and subjects, helping them to frame learning around engaging and provocative activities and authentic assessments. 

Requests for Garfield’s services have taken him from Asia to the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean and across North America. His interest in effective teaching and learning has led him to actively explore the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching and learning in the digital age. Garfield has spoken across Canada and internationally on critical thinking, brain compatible classrooms, curriculum design and effective assessment practice, and nurturing 21st century skills in a digital world. In addition to his work at the University of Toronto and delivering workshops, Garfield has also authored several articles, chapters in books and seven textbooks and has taught in the faculties of education at York University and the University of British Columbia. His most recent book co-authored with Roland Case, Creating Thinking Classrooms has received widespread praise from leading educators across Canada and internationally. 


Lisa Grocott

Lisa Grocott's love of learning was evident even back when she got expelled from kindergarten for leading her peers in a vocal protest to go to 'big school'.
Years later after a string of excellent setbacks Lisa was rejected from teacher’s college, failed first year law and ended up studying design. From the first day Lisa believed she had finally found her way home — for the designer’s speculative yet reflective mode of inquiry perfectly suited her interest in a process that promoted learning-through-failing. 

Engaged by this new experiential mode of learning Lisa went on to get a MFA in Fine Art and a M.Des. in Communication Design before doing a Ph.D. in design research and reflective practice. Yet for all the years in formal education Lisa’s real insights about education came from one month in a total immersion Maori language course in New Zealand and a semester abroad at the National Institute of Design in India. Similarly, the real lessons came from diving in and founding a design studio with lots of vision and no plan, or being a dean of academic initiatives at Parsons School of Design, New York during a period of transformative change. Unsurprisingly Lisa’s best teachers have been the graduate students she has taught at RMIT University, Melbourne and at Parsons and of course her son’s – who teach her every day that the true measure of learning is nothing to do with grades or assignments and everything to do with engagement, self-insight and feedback.


Robert Coven

Robert Coven is an award-winning teacher dedicated to helping students become full participants in their education. He has worked with colleagues in multiple disciplines to create innovative pedagogies designed to allow students to develop expertise and delve into subjects in ways that provide deep, permanent, and transferable understanding. Coven uses conceptual modeling
 – a method he developed with Carole Hamilton, an English teacher and colleague – to provide students the means to break through conceptual barriers and come to understand threshold concepts.

Coven has been a high school history and architecture teacher for the past 20 years. He came to teaching with a background that includes time spent in banking, as a retail executive, and in architecture. His education is equally varied. Coven’s BA in international economic relations is from University of California, Berkeley. He also has a master’s in architecture from the University of Wisconsin and master’s degrees in history from the University of Delaware and the University of Chicago. Coven is currently completing a dissertation for a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at North Carolina State University.


Cindy Klinar and Blanche Davidson

Cindy Klinar has studied the education process for over 20 years, spanning grades K-8, with an emphasis in language development.
Her most recent exploration has positioned her as a design coach in the Design Learning class offered as a specials rotation at Perry Elementary School. It is here that students grow their abilities to explore, create, communicate, collaborate and reflect within their current grade curriculum as they build a strong mindset that allows them to be in control of their learning. The position has challenged her to redesign her own thinking of what it means to teach.


Blanche Davidson is the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Teacher at Perry Middle School in Perry, Ohio. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Industrial Sales at the University of Toledo. Her Ohio teaching license is in Secondary Mathematics, Grades 7 – 12. Prior to accepting the call to teach, Blanche worked for 20 years in the chemical and construction materials industries, rising to the level of Director of Marketing in her last position. Blanche was named the 2015 Lake County Science Teacher of the Year sponsored by Lubrizol. She has also received the NEOACS Dr. Roy V. Harrington Award.