Thinking Schools Tigrai, Ethiopia
By Dagim Melese & Atsede Teshayou
Hitsets Primary School is about 80 Kms away from Shire and descending into the low lands where temperature reportedly reaches up to 43 degree centigrade [109F]. A hot dry place that is truly tropical low land altitude that is said to be 500 meters from mean sea level). The location is where refugees from Eritrea established settlements . Where they have their village built. Very interesting that the school is further away from this village.
We were warmly received at the school where the school leaders and educators were really hospitable. Cups of coffee (repeatedly), bottle of cold water, soft drinks, refreshments.
We began our site visit at Histets Primary School with a consultation with the School Principal Yemane G/Medihin. Since the director was new to the school who did not participate in the previous trainings we explained ALL the preceding phases of trainings conducted (as implementation phases instrumentally translating the whole school transformational approach the model adopts as an approach) and explained that today’s site visit is part of and follows from the preceding phases of trainings.
We began the training with community building exercises. We but changed our strategy of conducting the mini- professional development work. We decided the model the use of ALL eight maps sitting on a desk at the center with ALL the teachers observing, sharing, recording, drawing the maps in collaboration with us.
Before our modeling of the use of ALL eight maps with the teachers we quickly reviewed the maps showing hand symbols. We worked with the teachers working on using ALL eight maps calling for their active engagement and done introducing them with the maps. Following this Atsede did a class room demonstration lesson with students whose class room was a TENT. Atsede modeled the use of circle map on a content related to communication media with a student from grade 7. She used Think-Pair-Share and scaffolded it from Teacher-Student, to Student-Student, to all students in pairs followed by whole group sharing of works on circle maps. She had the students reflect upon shared information, thoughts, ideas of students works when presented.
The following questions were asked and discussed upon during debriefing. The school director said that his teachers have been using the maps. We were asked a question with regards to students engagement: Students were engaged because the lesson was conducted on Tigrigna, how are we to teach them subjects whose medium of instruction is English? We shared Thinking Maps support generation of information, organization of thought , elaboration of concepts from ones frame of reference , it doesn’t exclude English as a subject. Thinking Maps could still be used for vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and development students writing skills, and grammar.
ALL students of the class where we did demonstration lesson know and are aware of, could name, describe the uses of ALL eight maps. The school’s students have been very successfully introduced with ALL eight maps. The school very clearly been organized efforts exerted to transfer ALL eight maps to students.
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.