TGS has proven beyond any doubt that a school is not a place but a habit of mind. Schools are not built of brick and mortar but of young people and great ideas. Put TGS students in anyone else’s classroom and you can pick them out… by the fearless way they speak out, ask questions, and pursue ideas. That’s the TGS identity.
-Blog post by Brad Ovenell-Carter, 2010-2011 TGS Head of School.
Our mission at THINK Global School is to provide a challenging academic experience for multinational students in a multicultural learning environment, with a specific focus on engaging with the local culture in each of our host cities and integrating those experiences into our academic curriculum. As the world’s first global, mobile high school, the world is our classroom, and its citizens are our fellow students and teachers.
Our core courses provide the backbone of this ambitious curriculum. They give our students their fundamental tools for intellectual growth and introduce the basic concepts and conversations that come alive in our interdisciplinary projects and experiential learning activities. This develops a sense of shared inquiry and discovery and prepares students for university study and future employment.
Though our “traveling school” setup provides us with unique opportunities and resources, we also hope to pioneer new models and techniques that will be useful for everyone who works in the rapidly changing world of international education.
Four Year Course Plan, with IB Exams
TGS has been authorized as an official IB World School by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The school’s curriculum is guided by the IB Diploma Programme, with students taking the IB examinations prior to graduation at the end of their fourth year. TGS is also fully accredited by the U.S.-based Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Classroom instruction at TGS is teacher-led but student-driven, with an emphasis on investigative inquiry and deliberative dialogue. Inspired by our school’s passion for diversity and global citizenship, we create an inclusive educational environment in which every view is discussed with interest and compassion. This is an ambitious goal that requires each student to be thoughtfully prepared for his or her daily lessons.
THINK Global School’s integrated technology program supports our cooperative pedagogical approach, facilitating both group collaboration and individual exploration. Teachers post weekly course outlines, requirements, and due dates on THINK Spot. Students access the portal from their iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks, submitting assignments, essays, and exams, while interacting with teachers, parents, and other teenagers both in their host schools and around the world. THINK Spot allows students to probe connections between their coursework and the physical and digital worlds that surround them. Click here to find out more about the role that classroom technology plays in helping TGS students develop.
Applied Learning of Core Content and Skills
TGS creates a rich program of curriculum-linked field research, guest lectures, and workshops in each host city. Applied learning gives students the opportunity to utilize core content and skills in real-life situations, and to formulate new questions and insights through an integrated approach to problem-solving. For example, in order to study the sustainability of marine life in Sydney Harbour for their Science course, our students learned proper swimming and diving techniques in their Wellness course, called upon their geography skills to map out survey transit lines, and used data modeling techniques from their Math course to make sense of the information they collected about the health of the sea urchin population. In Beijing, TGS students participated in a workshop dedicated to introducing English to a group of Chinese migrant students, devising games and songs as memory aids. This required them to apply ideas from their Global Studies course about the economics and politics of globalization, techniques from their Creative Arts course, and of course their emerging ability to perform basic translations in Mandarin. See the WeXplore page for a more detailed list of our experiential learning activities.
THINK Global School students are expected to meet three criteria: that they thrive academically, that they cultivate good character, and that they become contributing members of the school community.
Most assessment at THINK Global School is formative, and is meant to provide continuous narrative and quantitative feedback to the students on their acquisition of knowledge and their development of skills and habits of mind. Each teacher also makes formal, summative assessments of student work at least twice a term. These assessments are outcome-based; they are also criteria-referenced rather than norm-referenced. What this means is that for each academic subject and each class level, TGS compares student performance on tests, essays, projects, and so forth with what is reasonable to expect of a student at the end of the school year. Thus, students generally receive lower marks at the beginning of the year and progress to higher marks by the end as their skills and knowledge develop.
GRADE 9/10 PRE-IB
Click a course name to view the description.
- English (World Literature)
The primary goals of this course are the study of multicultural literary expression, the development of students’ high-level oral and written communication skills, and foundational preparation for IB English A and IB Extended Essay. For instance, in Cuenca students read novels, poetry, and ethnographic narratives about Ecuador, discussing the themes of ethnic diversity, social inequality, and child labor. These themes re-emerged later in the term, as they wrote response papers and short stories, viewed films, and listened to authors and scholars speak about the Ecuadorian environment, history, and culture. In Chiang Mai, their study of Thai literature was complemented by service-learning projects among the Hill Tribes. The World Literature course is closely integrated with lessons in other disciplines, especially Global Studies and Visual Arts.
- Global Studies (Anthropology, Current Events, Geography, History)
This course provides students with a versatile scholarly toolkit for investigating each of the locations that TGS visits. By exploring history, geography, politics, and culture, students gain a sense of place that is both immersive and comparative, laying the groundwork for IB Group Three (History, Economics, ITGS) and IB Theory of Knowledge. In Beijing, students were introduced to the enormous span of Chinese history, reading about the Silk Road, the Cultural Revolution, and contemporary economic and political transformation. In Chiang Mai, TGS students studied the struggles of indigenous peoples for self-determination and sustainable ecosystems. Students also visited Ayutthaya and the Golden Triangle border area in order to learn about Thailand’s history of cooperation and conflict with surrounding countries. Global Studies is a linchpin in the integrated curriculum units for cross-disciplinary learning in the host locations.
- Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
In the TGS Science sequence, opportunities for place-based learning enrich the study of research techniques and lab methods, demonstrating the immediate practical relevance of scientific inquiry, and building toward IB Group Four (Environmental Systems and Society). Scientific concepts came alive in Ecuador with the study of marine life in the Galapagos and biodiversity in Tiputini. All host schools are equipped with top quality laboratory facilities for work in chemistry and physics. These courses are also closely coordinated with the Mathematics sequence.
- Math (Statistics, Geometry, Algebra, Pre-Calculus)
The math sequence covers three main clusters: Number theory, functions, and algebra; probability and statistics; and geometry and trigonometry. Together these topics form the basis for the study of calculus which students will eventually undertake in IB Group Five (Standard Level and Higher Level Math). In addition to a rigorous traditional study of math aided by the latest mobile learning software, TGS students undertake mathematical investigations of social and environmental problems that pertain to our host locations. Thus the Great Wall of China gave students the opportunity to compare models of measurement as they grappled with the length of this massive structure. In Ecuador students used mathematical approaches to better understand resource usage, and made videos about the implications of their findings for environmental sustainability in their host country.
- World Languages (Spanish 1, 2, 3)
Because multilingualism is an essential component of 21st century education, TGS offers Spanish as a three level course that includes fundamentals of grammar, speaking, and writing, and sets the stage for IB Group Two (Standard Level or Higher Level Spanish). Residing in Spanish-speaking locations like Ecuador gives students the opportunity to use the language in real-life interactions with locals and host school peers.
- World Languages (Mandarin 1, 2, 3)
Along with English and Spanish, Mandarin Chinese is one of the three major world languages of the 21st century. That’s why TGS offers it as a three level course that includes fundamentals of grammar, speaking, and writing. Residing in Mandarin-speaking locations like Beijing gives students the opportunity to use the language in real-life interactions with locals and host school peers.
- Visual Arts (Photography, Film, Drawing, Painting)
This course is an exciting gateway to the appreciation of cultural diversity. Students at TGS are introduced to the core intellectual themes and craft skills associated with the visual, digital, and performing arts. Each city we visit offers a unique artistic tradition with distinctive cultural and historical trajectories. Because of our school’s mobile structure and global mission, digital media are emphasized wherever we go. In Ecuador students integrated their study of motif and narrative structure in the World Literature course with lessons in photography and filmmaking. In Thailand students are learning about puppet theater and kickboxing, drawing comparisons to last year’s study of Peking Opera. Our spring 2012 residence in Berlin offered further opportunities for active engagement in the visual arts and architecture.
- newMedia Lab
Two of the six TGS core values are Thoughtfulness and Synergy, which connect to our school-wide desires to share and reflect world experiences. Out of these motivations rose the weekly skill session unique to TGS called the newMedia Lab. The core mission of the newMedia Lab is for students to share and reflect their TGS experiences in creative ways.
This weekly lab is divided into two sections: instruction and implementation. Upon noting the skill needs of upcoming academic assessments, students learn about how to communicate effectively using such media or venues as blogs, music, social networks, video, digital photography, etc. Students utilize this weekly session to elevate their homework quality and better access a global community with their sharable, digital content.
It’s not just academics that are supported in the newMedia Lab but personal work that helps students process their learning and living environment. Traveling the world invites transformative opportunities for students and the need to process, and this session provides a forum for discussion, inspiration for possible content, and a space in their hectic schedules to accurately document their dynamic lives.
Grade 11/12 IBDP Course Descriptions
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) constitutes the final two years of study at TGS, beginning in the 11th grade and concluding with the sitting of the IB exams at the end of the 12th grade. All TGS students will enroll in the IBDP and study for their IB diplomas. They will additionally attend a weekly newMedia Lab, which provides relevant support for the needs of their IB course work. Students will also have the opportunity to take non-IB Visual Arts courses.
We offer enough courses on campus in IB Core and IB Groups 1-5 for students to complete their IB diplomas, but in order to expand our curriculum to suit a variety of interests, we are also offering additional IB courses online. TGS teachers undertake special training on how to facilitate online learning. Students are limited to a maximum of two online courses. Each of these has its own requirements regarding internal and external assessments; generally students are required to do a mixture of oral presentations and written essays. All of these courses culminate in exams just like the classroom IB Group courses.
The International Baccalaureate Organization has stipulated a rigorous course of study for Diploma Programme students. TGS has created a structure of courses and study support to help our students succeed in this program. The basic requirements associated with the IB diploma are:
- Three IB Core Courses
- Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
- Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)
- Extended Essay (EE)
- One course from each of the following IB Groups
- Group 1: Language A1
- Group 2: Second Language B
- Group 3: Individuals and Societies
- Group 4: Experimental Sciences
- Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science
- Six Group courses in total, three at Standard Level (SL) and three at Higher Level (HL)
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme courses offered at TGS starting in Fall 2012 are:
- IB Core
- Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
- Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)
- Extended Essay (EE)
- Group One
- World Literature
- Group Two
- Language Ab Initio (Spanish)
- Spanish SL/HL
- Group Three
- History Route Two SL/HL
- Economics HL (online)
- ITGS SL/HL (online)
- Business and Management (online)
- Psychology (online)
- Group Four
- Environmental Systems and Societies
- Group Five
- Mathematical Studies
- Math SL/HL
Course descriptions for THINK Global School IBDP courses delivered by TGS teachers on campus:
Click a course name to view the description.
- Core Course: Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
The Theory of Knowledge course is defined by the International Baccalaureate Organization as a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge. The course starts with philosophical and psychological inquiry into thought-provoking questions, starting with: “How do we know?” The topics and approaches used in the TOK course help students become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal and ideological biases, culturally-shaped ways of knowing, and standards of argumentation and validity in different times and places. The IB Theory of Knowledge course integrates closely with THINK Global School’s credo: “Don’t teach me what to think, teach me how to think.” Each student will make a presentation and write an essay about a real-world issue in order to receive credit for Theory of Knowledge.
- Core Course: Creativity Action, Service (CAS)
Creativity, Action, Service gives IB students the opportunity to enrich their formal academic studies through real life engagement and participation. TGS takes the course to a new level by tying it to experiential learning in our diverse international host locations. Student work in CAS is self-directed, and guidance from a CAS supervisor helps keep projects on track. The THINK Global School CAS program is designed to provide activities and opportunities for reflection that help our students develop self-evaluation, critical thinking, and ethical insight. CAS activities occupy approximately three hours per week during the two-year IBDP.
- Core Course: Extended Essay (EE)
The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects. Students usually draw the subject from one of their six IB Group course subjects. The EE course promotes high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery, and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research about a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a TGS teacher who acts as their individual supervisor. This preparation leads to the Extended Essay, a major piece of formally presented, structured writing in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner appropriate to the chosen subject. Following the completion of the written essay is a short, concluding interview with the supervisor.
- Group One Course: Language A (Language & Literature)
The study of a wide range of texts in the IB World Literature course encourages students to appreciate the artistry of literature and to develop an ability to reflect critically on their reading. Works are studied in their literary and cultural contexts through close readings of individual texts and passages, and through a wide range of critical approaches and tools. The study of literary works in translation is especially important for introducing students to diverse cultural perspectives. It also allows for profound place-based connections to TGS host locations, supporting the school’s unique international mission. Students articulate responses to and analysis of world literature through both oral and written communication, enabling them to develop and refine their command of language in multiple contexts.
- Group Two Course: Language Ab Initio (Spanish)
The Language Ab Initio course is a language acquisition course for students with little or no experience of the language. The course is organized into three themes: individual and society, leisure and work, and urban and rural environment. Each theme comprises a list of topics that provide students with opportunities to practice and explore the language and to develop intercultural understanding. Through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills, students develop the ability to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations.
- Group Two Course: Language B (Spanish)
This course places special focus on developing students’ language proficiency and cultural awareness. Students improve listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Spanish while discussing literature, film, and current events. Cultural perspectives on topics are addressed, offering students the opportunity to cultivate a deeper understanding and compassion for people of different cultures and traditions. Correct use of grammar and syntax is practiced and acquired contextually through situations ranging from useful everyday conversation to analytical and abstract discourse.
- Group Three Course: History Route Two
IB History courses guide students to understand the importance of history and its role in explaining the situation of the present day. The Route Two course, with its focus on 20th century world history, is designed to support students as they learn historical research methods, including the collection, analysis, and evaluation of a variety of primary sources. Students are taught to record, reconstruct, and interpret historical data, as they approach the prescribed subject areas. These include the study of the causes, practices, and effects of wars, the origins and development of authoritarian and single-party states, the Cold War, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Students at TGS take the IB History course alongside two years of intense cultural immersion and hands-on historical study of important world cultures. The course is well suited to take advantage of these opportunities and to enrich their education by drawing on the unique history of the school’s host locations.
- Group Four Course: Biology
BIOLOGY HL is a course designed to construct and refine a solid knowledge base in the field of biology. Students will apply biological concepts through investigations and independent research. The topics covered here at TGS include Ecology, Conservation Biology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics, and Human Physiology. Our goal is to form graduates who possess a global perspective, are committed to sustainable living and prepared with a solid understanding of the functions of the human body and cutting edge biotechnology. Traveling with TGS will allow our biology students to experience different cultural perspectives on controversial issues in bioethics and medicine, which will serve to make them more compassionate, empathetic and holistic life science professionals and social leaders.
- Group Four Course: Environmental Science and Society (ESS)
The Environmental Systems and Societies course focuses on the interrelationships between ecosystems and societies, giving students the background necessary to make informed and ethical decisions about scientific and environmental issues. This broad interdisciplinary approach includes theory and investigative work from chemistry, biology, geology, geography, sociology, political science, soil science, atmospheric sciences, and social sciences. Only by understanding the basic science and social concerns behind the pressing issues of the 21st century will students be capable of promoting sustainable development, inspiring positive change to personal lifestyles, supporting regional community progression, and improving the quality of life for the global community at large.
- Group Five Course: Mathematical Studies
The IB Diploma Programme mathematical studies course, available in standard level only, is for students with varied backgrounds and abilities. The course is designed to build confidence and encourage an appreciation of mathematics in students who do not anticipate a need for mathematics in their future studies. Students taking this course, however, should be already equipped with fundamental skills and a rudimentary knowledge of basic processes.
- Group Five Course: Mathematics Standard Level
The IB Mathematics SL course introduces students to the core concepts, strategies, and techniques of the discipline. (Some knowledge of basic mathematical operations is presumed.) The course emphasizes both theoretical and applied math. This equips students for higher levels of mathematical inquiry and also provides a sound mathematical background for future studies in subjects like chemistry, economics, psychology, and business administration. The Internal Assessment component of the IB Mathematics course is a portfolio assignment that encourages students to develop independence in their mathematical reasoning as they engage in investigation and modeling.
- Group Five Course: Mathematics Higher Level
Mathematics can be seen as a well-defined body of knowledge, as an abstract system of ideas, or as a useful tool. Mathematics HL is a challenging course that provides students with in-depth knowledge of the subject area. Mathematical concepts are developed in a comprehensible, coherent, and rigorous way. Development of each topic will feature justification and proof of results. Students embarking on this course should expect to develop insight into mathematical form and structure, and should be intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between concepts in different topic areas. The course aims to develop not only students’ understanding of the principles and nature of the subject, but also their logical, critical and creative thinking. The course challenges students to appreciate the elegance, power and usefulness of mathematics, to refine their powers of abstraction and generalization, and to develop their patience and persistence in problem solving. Students will also learn to appreciate the multicultural and historical perspectives of mathematics.
Course descriptions for Pamoja Courses delivered online:
All descriptions below come from the Pamoja website at www.pamojaeducation.com
- Group Three Online Pamoja Course: Business & Management
The Diploma Programme Business and Management SL course is designed to develop students´ understanding of business theory, as well as their ability to apply business principles, practices and skills. The application of tools and techniques of analysis facilitates an appreciation of complex business activities. The course considers the diverse range of business organisations and activities and the cultural and economic context in which business operates. Emphasis is placed on strategic decision-making and the day-to-day business functions of marketing, production, human resource management and finance. Links between the topics are central to the course, and this integration promotes a holistic overview of business activity.
The business and management course aims to help students understand the implications of business activity in a global market. It is designed to give students an international perspective on business and to promote their appreciation of cultural diversity in the business environment.
The ideals of international cooperation and responsible citizenship are at the heart of Diploma Programme business and management. The course encourages the appreciation of ethical concerns and issues of social responsibility in the global business environment. Students should be able to make sense of the forces and circumstances that drive and restrain change in an interdependent and multicultural world. The business and management course will contribute to students’ development as critical and effective participants in local and world affairs.
- Group Three Online Pamoja Course: Economics
The Economics HL and Economics SL courses provide students with core knowledge of economics and incorporate elements of history, geography, psychology, sociology, political studies, and other related fields of study. Economics is a dynamic social science, forming part of the study of individuals and societies. The study of economics has many facets, and this is reflected in the broad scope of both courses. At its core, economics is concerned with the concept of scarcity and problems of resource allocation. Students will analyze how markets function, and the ways in which market factors and government policies influence unemployment, inflation and economic growth. They will also consider economic theory in the contexts of microeconomics, macroeconomics, international, and developmental economics. The scientific approach characterizes the standard methodology of economics, featuring a progression from problem identification, through hypothesis formulation and testing, and arriving finally at a conclusion.
- Group Three Online Pamoja Course: Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS)
This course, at both standard and higher levels, involves the study and evaluation of the impact of information technology (IT) on individuals and society. The course explores the advantages and disadvantages of “digital culture,” and provides a framework for the student to make informed judgments and decisions about the use of IT within contemporary social contexts. ITGS offers students an opportunity for systematic study of a range of technological, social, and ethical issues which fall outside the scope of any single discipline. The course develops students’ understanding of the capabilities of current and emerging IT systems and the impact of these systems on a range of stakeholders. Students are encouraged to apply their knowledge of existing IT systems to various scenarios and to make informed judgments about the effects of IT developments on these scenarios. Furthermore, students are required to use their knowledge of IT systems and practical IT skills to justify IT solutions for a specified client or end-user.
- Group Three Online Pamoja Course: Psychology
Psychology is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes. Psychology has its roots in both the natural and social sciences, leading to a variety of research designs and applications, and providing a unique approach to understanding modern society.
IB psychology adopts an integrative approach – looking at the interaction between biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour. It enables students to achieve greater understanding of themselves and to appreciate the diversity of human behaviour. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are key considerations.
The course takes a holistic approach which fosters intercultural understanding and respect. In the core of the IB psychology course, the biological level of analysis demonstrates what all humans share, whereas the cognitive and sociocultural levels of analysis reveal the immense diversity of influences that produce human behaviour and mental processes. Cultural diversity is explored and students are encouraged to develop empathy for the feelings, needs and lives of others within and outside their own culture. This empathy contributes to an international understanding.