Meri Primary School
Students Sharing and Organizing
Collaboratively with Thinking Maps

Article and Photos by Dagim Melese and Atsede TsehayouP1110825

The photos and video show students of Meri Primary School using  Thinking Maps to explore different topics (generating, discussing, clarifying, sharing perspectives on and organizing information and ideas) in a project that is aimed at summarizing contents (General Science) taught in a semester for 3rd Graders.


This happened after a daylong refreshment training facilitated on class room use of Thinking Maps as tools for supporting collaborative groups’ learning in actual class rooms of the Addis Ababa Education Bureau school system (300+ large schools).


The work on the Thinking Maps were led by lead students showing how effective
earning could be when it happens with lead students playing active roles facilitating the generation, discussion, elaboration, and organization of information and ideas.


Such a model of collaborative learning groups is in accordance with the bureaus’ model of students centered 1:5 collaborative learning groups model in which a lead student facilitates, directs and takes care of the management of the groups work. With all students playing active role surfacing information and knowledge from their respective backgrounds /perspectives equally, the model, implemented regularly, progressively and creatively, could bring about all the desired students’ outcomes.


Thinking Schools Ethiopia: Tigray
37 Model Laboratory Schools
Video of Professional Development
Teacher Reflections

video clip of Thinking Schools Ethiopia trainers Atsede Tsehayou, Dagim Melese and Robert Seth Price facilitating the Trainer of Trainers (ToT) who are facilitating their whole schools.

P1130807A two days whole staff training was undertaken for over 400 teacher educators under the leadership role of the Trainer of Trainers (ToT). The ToT trainers played key role in effectively transferring via modeling the essential components of the training to ALL educators from Wukro. After the two days training teachers from 2 primary and 1 secondary schools from each Wereda came up with their plan (in a Flow Map) of whole school implementation of Thinking Maps in their respective schools. Worth mentioning it is, here, that the training hall chosen at Wukro site contributed a lot to the success of the overall training. The training was in the auditorium within a Catholic School located in Wukro. It was superb in space, excellent in sound, and sufficient quality chairs and tables for the large group.

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.

Reflections from participants:

P1130770The training have gave me deep understanding on active learning, how to encourage thinking skills of students and that it improves students interest to participate actively. I belie this should be organized in regular basis. The training was very supportive as we are able to gain skills to facilitate more participatory sessions, built on students backgrounds, encourage thinking and engagement in learning. I would like to thank TDA and thinking school international for this opportunity.
Birhane – Geography teacher from Enticho secondary school.

P1130763From this training I was able to gain knowledge on how to enhance student participation, how to encourage critical thinking. I am inspired to make more effort after I went to my school. However I beg you to continue such trainings.
Haftom zenebe from seharti smre primary school.

It was very helpful training where I have been able to gain new perspective of what thinking is and how to encourage it. I believe this should continually happen.
Meresiet from Ahizera primary school

P1130970From this training I have learned

  • Types of maps
  • Use of maps
  • The visibility of expression using maps
  • How to control trainers
  • How to motivate trainers to be effective in their work.
  • How to encourage participation in every activity.

Zenebu Kahisa from Millennium OFLA secondary school

P1130767First of all, I would like to thank Mr Robert and all his coworkers. I have gained very much knowledge on thinking maps. I have also got different experiences from many directions in just two days. I am very satisfied with the program.
Adane Legesse, from Zata primary school

I have learned much about thinking maps to mention some:

  • Deep understanding of thinking mean
  • How to guide student of different backgrounds and with different perspectives.
  • Developed good relationship with each trainee
  • How to interpret ideas and believes visually.
  • How to encourage students to think critically


I really thank the trainers and people who coordinated and sponsored the training.
Mulu dagnewu Menkere primary school.

I am happy of the methodologies , motivation mechanisms, and various skills to let students participate.
Meseret Birhanu from Zelalem desta primary school.

I was able to gain skills of encouraging students learn in simple and entertaining way. And let students think freely.
Negash Tesfay from Almaz alemu primary school

P1130765First of all I would like to thank Robert, Dagim and Atsede for their unreserved commitment they showed during the two day training and their all concern to help us. I was able to learn from you:

  • How to apply thinking maps to all courses
  • Effective presentation
  • How to motivate refresh and support students to think and learn.

Daniel from Tilahun Yigzaw secondary school

P1130796From this training I was able to gain knowledge on how to enhance student participation, how to encourage critical thinking. I am inspired to make more effort after I went to my school. However I beg you to continue such trainings.
Haftom zenebe from seharti smre primary school.

It was very helpful training where I have been able to gain new perspective of what thinking is and how to encourage it. I believe this should continually happen.
Meresiet from Ahizera primary school

What I liked from this training is:

  • The preparation that have been made to train trainers and organize whole school
  • Skills to apply the 8 thinking maps to various fields
  • How to encourage students learn independently to enhance their thinking.
  • It was more practical but with concise theoretical basis

What I think need improvement:

  • Two days is very short

I recommend that more such trainings be organized.
Hagos Abadi- grade 7 geography teacher from Seka primary school.

The Thinking Schools Ethiopia project funding is administered by Initiative Africa with funding from Sida for Whole School Change with a focus on Empowering Young Girls. Read more at the Initiative Africa website.


Whole Staff Thinking Schools Ethiopia Training
Addis Ababa Government Schools

Whole Staff Thinking Schools Ethiopia Training
Focus on Visual Tools:  Thinking Maps
for Ediget Primary School Teachers
Addis Ababa Education Bureau Government School

Atsede Tsehayou & Dagim Melese
January 1, 2016

IMG_1537Initially the training was intended to be facilitated at Ediget school site: in the Staff Room. But after having observed that the chairs are not flexible (long sofa chairs which one can’t easily move here and there), we changed the training hall . We went to a library of a nearby primary school called Hibret Beliginet Primary School. The training began with a speech from the Wereda supervisor as regards what the training is about and the goal of the training

The flow map below presents what proceeded from the introductory speech by the instructional leaders .


Participants were asked to share their observations and reflections on each of the sequenced activities above. The observations asked were on there relevance, adaptability to the concrete realities of their class rooms, there instrumental value  and use value for facilitating students learning and thinking and of course what they saw happening during their works on each of the tasks.


Participants were deeply engaged (this was specifically shown when sharing their own personal frames of reference –there was actually observed deep emotional engagement as they were sharing from their personal real life experiences and surfacing memories from the distant past in their lives in the cases of those who were senior educators).


There were also concerns aired with regard to portion coverage and time management for which we tried to respond to satisfactorily. One event we encountered and that we feel worthy of mentioning, here, during the day was the collapse of a senior female educator who we were told was diabetic. The teacher got well after having taken sugar and candy which she kept in her bag. Deeply touching it was. This was, by and large, how the training went. The supervisor shared that an evaluative questionnaire will be distributed for assessing the value of the training and we will embark on implementing the next steps.


Ediget primary school is located in Addis Ketema Sub City. There are about 850 students in the school, 47 teachers and 3 principals. A large proportion of the student population of the school do not have parents (these students live their lives under the guardian of a government run institution and they are locally called “Yegibi Lijoch” ) , some other (111 of the students ) are provided meals by the school at the school site since these students could not afford to provide themselves with the basic necessities of subsistence and most of them come from low income families.