Samire and Getet Elementary Schools

Samire elementary 12 - 1

Thinking Schools Tigrai, Ethiopia
By Dagim Melese & Atsede Teshayou
Samire elementary 20 - 1

The site visit today was paid to Samire and Getet Elementary Schools. Both of these elementary schools are located farther away from the secondary school we visited yesterday. These schools are remote and isolated. And the message here is that frequent follow up of these schools is very difficult given their location away from Mekele and the nature of the road that leads to them.

Samire elementary 19 - 1

There are 31 teachers teaching in Samire elementary school of whom 12 took the two days Samire elementary 9 - 1training on thinking maps in Wukiro last October. There is 1 ToT trainer who is at the same time the schools director whose name is Yisak. Robert easily remembers Yisak who was very active leading community building exercises in Wukiro. [Robert – ‘Yisak was very active with his team as a ToT and equally at ease working with the whole group of 400 teachers in the training. He is an example of the talent amongst the ToT’s that can become the leaders of expanding to schools throughout the region, and country.’]. His school is one of the leading schools in terms of implementing Thinking Maps and actually using Thinking Maps.

Samire elementary 13 - 1

The other school was Getet Primary School. Getet Primary School had its director took part in the two day thinking maps training in Wukiro. But later was transferred to a different school. Currently there is an acting director. Her name is Etsayi. There are 38 teachers in the school of whom 13 were trained in Wukiro.

Samire elementary 2 - 1Samire elementary 7 - 1Samire elementary 8 - 1









At Samire school Atsede did:

  • Samire elementary 10 - 1community building;
  • modeled the use of Circle Maps with a content being environmental problems;
  • modeled the use of Multi-Flow map to examine cause – effect relationships of the environmental problems;
  • Students were asked intermittently to work in pairs and groups on both Circle Map and Multi-Flow maps and share their works to whole group in which information was enriched;
  • concepts were clarified, thoughts were supported with citations of examples;
  • Then students were given homework.

Samire elementary 4 - 1 Samire elementary 5 - 1
Samire elementary 16 - 1








We began the training with a mini professional development as usual in which reviewed the thinking schools model and discussed the research basis of use of visual tools, followed by the collegial coaching model to do the demonstration lessons. During the Debriefing session teachers reported that they have seen how they could actually use the maps with content in their class rooms.

getet elementary 5 - 1

getet elementary 4 - 1At Getet site, Atsede modeled the use of bridge map for seeing analogical relationships of different lines in geometry. The lesson is about a circle and its dimensions (chord, diameter, tangent, radius). The model of Bridge Maps Atsede used with a student is such that a chord is drawn on the upper side of the bridge and its name and definition put in the lower side, as diameter is pictorially represented with its definition in the lower side as radius above and its definition below (see photo of this analogy).

She modeled the use of Double Bubble Maps to compare and contrast a chord and a diameter which the students were later asked to work on their own in pairs and groups. Final students were given chances to present their works before the class. Information and concepts were consolidated.

getet elementary 7 - 1getet elementary 9 - 1getet elementary 11 - 1






Ataede then introduced each of the eight thinking maps to all students in both cases modeling for the teachers how they could introduce the maps for their students .

getet elementary 2 - 1

  • One important note is that trained teachers at Samire Elementary School have transferred their trainings or Thinking Maps to other teachers and have prepared handouts of Thinking Maps which they have shown.
  • The school director of Getet primary school was assigned to other school he was one of the ToT trainers. We would like to emphasis the fact that the remoteness and isolated locations of the school coupled with road quality may hamper frequent follow up and support for the schools.

getet elementary 13 - 1

Thinking Schools Ethiopia – Tigray is a collaboration of Tigray Development Association and Thinking Foundation for 37 model schools in 12 Woredas located in all  7 zonal administrations with funding administered by Initiative Africa for a Girl’s Empowerment Whole School Change grant from Sida (Swedish Development Agency) that began as a grass roots project by Robert Seth Price along with lead country trainers Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese. Read the chapter on Ethiopia in the Corwin Press book Pathways to Thinking Schools.

getet elementary 1 - 1

UNESCO-IICBA support for Thinking Schools Ethiopia

posted by Robert Price
click on responses above to leave a comment 

‘UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) has written this Letter of Support to Thinking Schools Ethiopia – part of Eminence Social Entrepreneurs, a local non-governmental organisation for the work it is doing to promote the concept and practice of Thinking Schools Ethiopia.

Thinking Schools Ethiopia aims to promote modern teaching and learning methods in Ethiopian schools through the Thinking Maps Methodology and Whole School System. IICBA, as an Institute engaged in the  promotion of modern pedagogy and support to teacher education institutions in Africa has been participating  in  the  workshops that were organised  to familiarise school teachers in Addis Ababa with the methodology and confirms that the new approach to teaching and learning be very beneficial to students in Ethiopian schools.

As part of Eminence’s commitment to “rejuvenating and transforming the delivery of services in Ethiopia”, llCBA  believes that the Thinking Schools Ethiopia exercise will introduce a new dimension in the way teachers think about teaching and students about learning.’






Addis Ababa

“I would like to see this continue in some form…this was a complete success…to have on an ongoing basis…for public school teachers…that would assist the whole education system in the country because this was a workshop about changing minds…acquiring a new set of beliefs about what education is all about…”

Video interview with Dr. Awol Endris, Program Director at UNESCO – International  Institute for Capacity Building in Africa, after participating in full five day Thinking Schools Ethiopia training in Addis Ababa.
UNESCO Letter of Support for Thinking Schools Ethiopia (PDF)

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.

Eminence Staff Meets Thinking Schools Ethiopia

posted by Bereket Aweke
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As part of in-house action plan and information dissemination practice, the Thinking Schools International trainer Robert Price delivered training to Eminence staff in late October 2011. The training introduced the staff to basic ideals and components of the thinking Schools approach; in particular Thinking Maps. This was done to enhance staff planning and creative thinking to handle office projects, as can be gathered from the title of the training ‘Thinking Maps as a Tool for Project Development’. At the same time, this engagement enabled the staff to practice first hand with some of the components of the approach that can be broadly applicable beyond the scholastic setting. The staff greatly appreciated the training session which they said was useful and easily implementable not just in the work place, but also for personal development.

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)

Growing Thinking Schools Training Photos

posted by Robert Price
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Photos from 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.
click on a photo for a larger size image 

Presentation for Government Education Experts

posted by Bereket Aweke

The Addis Ababa Bureau of Education Director Dilamo Otore Ferenje whom I met previously with Robert Price requested a presentation of the Thinking Schools approach for experts from the Bureau of Education. The presentation was held on the morning of Wednesday, September 7th 2011 at Eminence Social Entrepreneurs. A panel discussion was held in one of the conference rooms in the Eminence Social Entrepreneurs PLC offices, in the 8th floor of the Dire Dawa Building on Wollo Sefer, Addis Ababa.

The objective of the panel discussion was to introduce the approach of “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” to solve the quality issues of the Ethiopian educational system.

“Thinking Schools Ethiopia” is run by Eminence Social Entrepreneurs PLC in collaboration with “Thinking Schools International”.  In Ethiopia the “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” pilot project commenced in 2009. For more information on the program please visit the “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” website: and Thinking Schools International website:

Presentation PDF
Presentation PowerPoint 

Start Your Lesson with Community

posted by Bereket Aweke

“Community Building not only makes students physically refresh
but also set their mind for learning”

Mr.Habtamu – Science Teacher at CHA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Grade 5 students at Children’s Home Academy always start their Science lesson with community buildings. The community building may be a simple stretching exercise or other activities first demonstrated by the teacher but later lead by students. Watch below two video clips:
1—one of their morning Community Building techniques
2—and the reflection of students on Community Building.

—student chooses and leads community building exercises

“…it is good for our mind and we can get refreshed and are happy to learn…” student