Dr. David Hyerle – Thinking Maps Developer Visiting Thinking Schools Ethiopia in Addis Ababa 3-8 March 2012

2 March 2012
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

Dr. David Hyerle, Thinking Maps® developer, Thinking Schools International co-director and Thinking Foundation founder, will be visiting Thinking Schools Ethiopia (Eminence Social Entrepreneurs) next week on March 3-8, 2012. During this visit, he will meet and discuss the Thinking Schools Ethiopia project and Thinking Maps with select government officials and partners from the government and private sectors. This includes experts and leaders from Addis Ababa Education Bureau, Ministry of Education, NGOs and major Ethiopian universities. Dr. Hyerle will be visiting government schools in Addis Ababa and doing public presentations in addition to the above meetings. He will be arriving from South Africa where he participated in last weeks Thinking Schools South Africa conference. For additional information on Dr. Hyerle’s visit, please contact Bereket Aweke, Thinking Schools Ethiopia coordinator (select contacts in the menu).

David Hyerle, EdD, is an author, researcher, seminar leader, and keynote speaker focused on integrating content learning, thinking process instruction, and collaborative leadership across whole schools. He is founding director of the Thinking Foundation www.thinkingfoundation.org, a nonprofit organization supporting research in cognitive and critical thinking development for the purpose of creating thinking schools nationally and internationally.

Download the complete article as a PDF file.

The creation of his Thinking Maps® model emerged from his experiences as a middle school teacher in inner city Oakland, California, USA. His development of Thinking Maps® was also informed by his work with the Bay Area Writing Project and the Cognitive Coaching model.

Among his numerous professional books and articles based on visual tools research, David wrote the foundational training materials for Thinking Maps and guided the professional development process with Thinking Maps, Inc. The Thinking Maps model is used across the United States and the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, Ethiopia, South Africa and many other countries. David co-wrote the training guide Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership and edited Student Successes With Thinking Maps, a professional book presenting background research and documenting the professional development outcomes from the implementation of Thinking Maps.
Video above to the right is a short trailer from upcoming documentary  Minds of Mississippi – an extraordinary story about students and a whole school district on thinking…

David is co-director with Richard Cummins of Thinking Schools International that currently has projects in United Kingdom (over 400 schools), Norway, South Africa, Malaysia, Ethiopia and other countries. www.thinkingschoolsinternational.com.

David earned a doctorate and bachelor’s at the University of California–Berkeley and has served as a visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Education.

In the video below David Hyerle interviews a Special Needs student on her use of Thinking Maps and writing about Dr. Martin Luther King.
See the complete case study on Learning Prep.

Dr. David Hyerle interviews high school students in the United Kingdom on use of Thinking Maps.

Thinking Maps® in Kawasaki City, Japan.

Thinking Maps in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.


Collaborative Networking
Collaboration between & with Students, Educators, Leaders

27 February 2012
post by Robert Price

Collaborative Networking

between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks
Collaborative Networking is one of Thinking Schools Ethiopia’s Six Starting Points of Thinking which includes reflective questioning; thinking skills; visual mapping; collaborative networking; developing dispositions; and structuring environment. This blog posting will explore Collaborative Networking.

The techniques for cooperative learning are many and there are many models for establishing collaborative groups, classrooms and schools. The research on cooperative learning in school and the need for high quality collaborative groups in the work place connect to the recent evolution of social networking through new technologies as learners engage other learners around the globe. Collaborative Networking (i.e. collaborative learning at all levels) can greatly change the success of students, educators and the community as thinkers and learners. It is sustainable and a low cost high impact methodology – a transformative design. Like all implementations aiming for sustainable success: whole school implementation with a goal of mastery is important if not vital.  In this post we’ll briefly look at collaborative networking from within the classroom to whole school to global including:

  • Collaborative Learning – Students
  • Collegial Coaching – Teachers and School Leaders
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Collaborative Learning between Schools Regionally and with Country
  • Collaborative Learning between Schools Globally
  • Methods
  • Tools

Collaborative Learning – Students
Peer to Peer sharing and learning
Collaborative learning is an environment  in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. People engaged in collaborative learning capitalize on one another’s resources and skills:

  • asking one another for information,
  • evaluating one another’s ideas,
  • monitoring one another’s work,
  • learning from each other’s prior knowledge – schema,
  • etc.

Collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences. Several examples of many that are very effective include Think-Pair-Share; Three-Step Interview and Learning Teams (one page outline – pdf file). Visual Mapping and Reflective Questioning are very effective elements to use within cooperative learning.

An example excerpted from a chapter on the Thinking Schools Ethiopia project in an upcoming book on Thinking from Corwin Press models the potential of collaborative learning on a global level:

  • A vivid example of the potential this had for our collaborative effort occurred during my fifth visit to Ethiopia when students at Children’s Home Academy were using a laptop in their garden to Skype with a school in North Carolina, USA. The students in Ethiopia were in the student’s garden – one of five at the Children’s Home Academy that provides food for the student lunches. The North Carolina students were tethered to the classroom computer talking about a garden they were envisioning. It was apparent that the food movement in the USA has much to share with and also learn from locations in parts of the world that actually need to have school gardens.

Collaborative learning methodologies can support the development of increasingly complex types of thinking. Benjamin Bloom developed a hierarchy of six types of thinking which become increasingly complex and demanding. Though the “levels” have increasing complexity, at any age level or at any time within a classroom context a teacher or student may move between different levels. There is no linear sequence required for use of this taxonomy. The six levels (as revised by Andersen)

  • creating
  • evaluating
  • analyzing
  • applying
  • understanding
  • remembering

Collegial Coaching – Teachers and School Leaders

Collegial Coaching is a model that improves teaching — especially performance (i.e. pedagogy) — by observing, learning, and coaching each other within our learning community. Successful Collegial Coaching includes:

  • openness to observe and learn as professional colleagues;
  • creating systems of observation and learning;
  • using techniques that provide a means to learn from each other regularly.

Collegial Coaching includes regular collaborative coaching, discussion groups, and practicing collaboratively in real classroom environments.

Observation techniques should be clear with goals and techniques to support our collaborative learning. We use techniques based on research to fully develop our abilities as focused observers. An example might be deciding on a specific focus to observe for (e.g. a specific student behavior) then while observing writing and sketching observations + questions. We all bring skills to learn from — new and veteran teachers. By honoring, and pooling our varied and collective talents, the goal of providing the best possible learning environment(s) for students reaches new heights. The Instructional Coaching model initially includes coaching support from outside sources, but ultimately our greatest resources are peer to peer within our teaching and learning community.

An example of one Collegial Coaching Model usually in small groups (3-4 best) where the educators regularly observe each other. The model includes:

  • The Briefing – The participants initially meet to provide an overview of the lesson and determine the observation focus. It is best to select a facilitator for these sessions. The briefing format includes:
  • The Lesson – The lesson will provide an opportunity to observe strategies and techniques that interest all the participants. The lesson format includes:
  • The Debriefing – The teachers will meet immediately after the lesson to share observations. It should involve all participants including the teacher leading the lesson.

Professional Learning Communities
Within Schools—Between Schools
A professional learning community (PLC) is an extended learning opportunity to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. It is often used in schools as a way to organize teachers into working groups.

Collaborative Learning between Schools
Locally, Regionally, Country, Globally
The methods used by students and educators in a classroom, within a school and local area can be expanded further – including within a region, country and globally. There are many technology tools to support such expanded collaborations – especially when the collaborative learning methodologies are solidly grounded and implemented initially on a local level.

While ALL six starting points of thinking are relevant and integrative with Collaborative Networking Visual Tools, Reflective Questioning, Structuring Environment are very instrumental in building success. Additionally, Community Building Exercises can be a very effective method of building understanding and respect of the collaborating people.


Starting the Vision
Growing Thinking Schools
From the Inside Out — a Transformative Design
Learner Centered Professional Development

This is the first of several upcoming postings that will provide an overview of the Thinking Schools Ethiopia process – beginning with the initial Growing Thinking Schools two day workshops. The upcoming blogs will look into each of the Six Starting Points of Thinking (visual mapping, reflective questions, environmental structure, collaborative networking, thinking skills and dispositions) as well as assessment and IT integration. Each of the six starting points of thinking will be highlighted separately and how they are a transformative design collectively in upcoming blogs. Any reflections and/or questions are appreciated in the ‘responses’ section.

The initial two day Growing Thinking Schools sessions is for school leadership teams about to embark on whole school transformative design change using Thinking Schools Ethiopia thinking methodologies. The leadership team is comprised of the principal and other key faculty and staff who are school leaders in teams of 4-6 people per school. It is not about one size fits all. It is taking 21st century thinking methodologies that we know work (research as learned through practice) and then the school leadership team determining where their school (and school community) is currently, and how best to vision, create, achieve and sustain their goals. Mastery and sustainability are key visions of Thinking Schools Ethiopia. The initial two day Growing Thinking Schools sessions include learning and using Thinking Schools Ethiopia’s six starting points of learning to:
—learn (and reflect) about ourselves
—learn (and reflect) about our schools (and/or NGO organizations) as a collaborative team
—learn together as teams building a collaborative network between different schools and people
—learn thinking methodologies in a participatory centered (mirroring student centered) manner
—learn collaboratively within our leadership team AND between other school’s leadership teams
—develop understanding, thinking out ideas, learning each other’s perspectives (frame of reference), and developing an initial Growing Thinking Schools plan with visual tools…
—create a plan that includes mastery for the leadership team, the teachers, the school support staff, the students, and the greater community.

Click on the images above to see the full photos and/or visual mapping.
The images are left to right:

  • building community;
  • visual mapping with Working Field Guide;
  • Growing Thinking Schools training;
  • visual overview of Growing Thinking Schools implementation in Ethiopia 

The Thinking Schools Ethiopia – a collaborator with the Thinking Schools International network – six starting points of thinking methodologies  include:

1. Reflective Questioning high quality questioning and listening skills
2. Thinking Skills explicit use of cognitive processes
3. Visual Mapping the use of visual tools to map out ideas
4. Collaborative Networking between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks that includes collaborative learning; collegial coaching; regional and global collaborationsExamples include collaborative learning, collegial coaching, professional learning communities, parent involvement.
5. Developing Dispositions characteristics, dispositions, and habits of mind are engaged
6. Structuring Environment considering how the physical space is organize and resources used


Each of the six starting points of thinking will be highlighted separately and how they are a transformative design collectively in upcoming blogs.

The video clip below shares participants reflections
from a recent Growing Thinking Schools Ethiopia training.

Thinking Schools Ethiopia – Transformative Design
Growing Thinking Schools from the Inside Out

posted by Robert Price & Bereket Aweke

What is Thinking Schools Ethiopia?
Transformative Design – Growing Thinking Schools from the Inside Out

As noted in the previous blog posting Thinking Schools Ethiopia recently signed a Memo of Understanding to collaborate with the Addis Ababa Bureau of Education and the government (public) schools in Ethiopia’s capital city. Concurrently UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa has recently stated its’ support in a document about Thinking Schools Ethiopia as a modern pedagogy. More will be shared on the support and collaboration with UNESCO-IICBA in an upcoming blog.

What are Thinking Schools?
Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) is a school transformational model (child, educator, community) embodying 21st century thinking skills to improve the capacity of:

  • students in pre-k, elementary, secondary and university as life long learners;
  • educators to work collaboratively as a whole school community;
  • Ethiopian master facilitators as model practitioners and trainers.

The TSE approach includes the coordinated use of visual mapping, collaborative networking, reflective questioning, thinking skills, structuring environment, and developing dispositions to create, develop and sustain a research-based school transformational model.

The Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) approach focuses on improving the quality of teacher effectiveness, applying research-based methodologies that are aligned with how the brain thinks and learns, and a systems thinking approach with whole school implementation. Assessment of students, educators and the implementation of TSE are accomplished using qualitative and quantitative methods including use of thinking skills tools.

How is it different from existing approaches?
The Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) approach is a whole school systems approach that builds capacity from within developing a foundation that is reflective, sustainable, replicable and collaborative. TSE is part of a greater global collaboration that supports bidirectional development. Bidirectional development is a belief system and model where all participants recognize their own capacity for aiding the others globally: ideas and innovation originate within and across all places globally.

The focus of Thinking Schools Ethiopia will be on the integration of 21st century thinking skills supported by research combined with using practical technological approaches.

The Methodologies:
1. Reflective Questioning high quality questioning and listening skills
2. Thinking Skills explicit use of cognitive processes
3. Visual Mapping the use of visual tools to map out ideas
4. Collaborative Networking between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks that includes collaborative learning; collegial coaching; regional and global collaborations. Examples include collaborative learning, collegial coaching, professional learning communities, parent involvement.
5. Developing Dispositions characteristics, dispositions, and habits of mind are engaged
6. Structuring Environment considering how the physical space is organize and resources used



Thinking Schools Ethiopia collaborates with and is part of the greater network of Thinking Schools International. Projects are concurrently in Malaysia, United Kingdom, Norway, South Africa, Brazil and other countries.

The thinking methodologies above are from the Thinking Schools International guide: Growing Schools from the Inside Out. The guide which is translated into Amharic, is used as part of the initial school leadership team training for each school to better understand its needs and vision in participatory centered workshops. Each team participates in TSE learner centered workshops using thinking methodologies to develop a sustainable plan for implementing thinking methodologies at their schools.

Phase 1 of the project between August 2009 – November 2011 involved over 2000 educators in Ethiopia participating in multiple day workshops. Participation by experts from Addis Ababa Bureau of Education (AABE), UNESCO-IICBA, many educators, school leaders and the Ministry of Education have led to the collaboration of TSE, AABE, UNESCO, Thinking Schools International and Thinking Foundation bringing together complimentary organizations supporting whole school and sustainable systems change.

More on Thinking Schools can be seen on the Norway TV video clip with Richard Cummins – the CEO of Thinking Schools International part of the program. Thinking Schools Ethiopia is also finishing an informative video clip about Thinking Schools Ethiopia which will be shared here soon.
Thinking Schools – The Start of a Journey on Norway TV

Look at the video clips on the Thinking Schools Ethiopia YouTube:

Growing Thinking Schools Training Reflections – Addis Ababa

posted by Robert Price
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On the 28-29 October 2011 a Growing Thinking Schools workshop was facilitated by Robert Price and Bereket Aweke. Participants included nine experts from the Addis Ababa Bureau of Education who were attending as a follow-up to their recent presentation on Thinking Schools Ethiopia. The attendees also included leadership teams from local Addis Ababa Schools. The goal of the session was to provide an experience with the initial two day hands-on visioning training for Thinking Schools Ethiopia which is part of the Thinking Schools International network. The two day workshop explores the six starting points of thinking – using the methods to develop and understanding and vision of each school’s needs. This provides the school leadership teams to develop a plan of implementation that fits their school’s needs. The six starting points are:

Reflective Questioning high quality questioning and listening skills
Thinking Skills explicit use of cognitive processes
Visual Mapping the use of visual tools to map out ideas
Collaborative Networking between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks
Developing Dispositions characteristics, dispositions, and habits of mind are engaged
Structuring Environment considering how the physical space is organize and resources used

Reflections from participants of the two day Growing Thinking Schools training…
(English and Amharic with subtitles)