May 162016

Thinking Schools Tigrai, Ethiopia
By Dagim Melese & Atsede Teshayou

Inticho12This posting is to share our start of the second round of first school site visits. We collaborated with the large staff at a high school named Inticho Secondary School. We were at the school site early in the morning for a meeting with the school leader Ato Dawit T/Medihin. Ato Dawit and a teacher are the school’s Trainer of Trainers.

There are 91 teachers teaching in the high school of whom 38 teachers who had taken part in the Thinking Maps professional development training Atsede Tsehayou, Dagim Melese, and Robert Seth Price facilitated. These trainings included Trainer of Trainers professional development, followed by further trainings that had the Trainer of Trainers leading their schools.


The sequence of activities we did was:

  • Inticho7We did the mini-professional development sessions (discussed fundamental principles of the TSE model, brain research bases of Thinking Maps, research outcomes of the actual use of Thinking Maps and other pedagogical tools and strategies). There were two mini-professional development sessions: one in the morning and a second mini-professional development training for teachers in the afternoon so all teachers could participate.
  • We did classroom demonstration lessons (demo of how Thinking Maps are transferred to students; use of circle map to brainstorm information, and modeling ideas about plants with the teacher and student, then student and student and then whole groups).


Inticho13Teachers in Amharic department of the school for examples have been trying to construct maps of contents in syllabi the different grade levels they teach and discussing about the precision of the use of the maps (see the Interview with Teacher Saba Beyene, a female Amharic teacher).

Atsede did also interview two other teachers of the school. She will be sharing of her interview questions and responses recorded.

Teacher Saba Beyene

Atsede: How did you use Thinking Maps in your subject?

Saba: We often use them in literature. My students use them for narrating a story (they use the Flow Map). We also show them using Double Bubble maps for comparing and contrasting different kinds of writing /literature.

Inticho1I usually use the Bridge Map for vocabulary development. For example opposite words: tall is the opposite of short as fat is the opposite of thin as big is the opposite of small as light is the opposite of dark (translation is mine). And opposite sexes of animals ox is a male cattle as cow is its female counter part as …. (translation is mine).

Teacher Saba also asked me a question about the correct use of brace map to which I replied: brace maps is meant for seeing whole-parts relationship of physical objects that is how it is different from tree maps which is used with the categorization abstract concepts.

Teacher Saba is working on writing a book that essentially uses Thinking Maps for illustration of decoding the patterns of thoughts in the linear text structures the constitute the notes under different categories of contents.

Inticho4During our conversations with Teacher Saba (an Amharic teacher at the school), we were informed that the teachers at the school purposefully chose a class ( a laboratory class ) where all of the teachers implement Thinking Maps working with the students. Teacher Saba mentioned that the students were introduced with Thinking Maps and were supported by their teachers in their exercises of the use of the maps with contents . It is remembered that teacher Saba is preparing a book where Thinking Maps are used essentially to decode the thought processes embedded in the linear texts making up content knowledge of the chapters a syllabi incorporates.

Thinking Schools EthiopiaInticho8 – 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


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