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 accredited for grades 9-10 by the U.S.-based Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Classroom instruction at TGS is student-driven, but facilitated by the teacher, 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)
TGS provides students with a unique opportunity to experience and explore the diverse visual cultures and practices of the world up close. Students are introduced to the core skills and techniques of art-making, with an emphasis placed on the work of local artists and the themes and genres pertinent to the location. The analysis and consideration of artwork both familiar and unfamiliar is a vital aspect of critical thinking, and this is fostered through exposure to a wide variety of visual culture in diverse contexts, including artist studio visits and art gallery trips. Over the two-year course, students gain proficiency in traditional two-dimensional media and digital media as well as the practice of documenting and recording their process.
- Physical Education
The aim of the Physical Education course is to cultivate a healthy and active lifestyle for students. It therefore advocates activities that are not only enjoyable but also contribute to healthy living. Students are helped to develop the motor skills necessary to successfully participate in a variety of physical activities, and to also understand the role and significance of physical activity for individuals and society.
Physical education serves to develop each student’s social skills through the building of positive relationships as a result of involvement in sporting and recreational activities with people from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. This subject area also allows for student-lead learning and the development of leadership skills as students build upon their own personal sporting and recreational experience.
- 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 IB Visual Arts courses.
We offer enough courses on campus in IB core and IB groups 1-6 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. Students are limited to a maximum of two online courses. Each of these online courses has its own requirements regarding internal and external assessments; generally students are required to do a mixture of oral presentations and written essays. The IBDP culminates in formal written examinations in most subjects.
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 requirements
- Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
- Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)
- Extended Essay (EE)
- One course from each of the following IB groups
- Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
- Group 2: Language Acquisition
- Group 3: Individuals and Societies
- Group 4: Experimental Sciences
- Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science
- Group 6: The Arts
- 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 1
- Language A: Language and Literature SL/HL
- Group 2
- Spanish Ab Initio SL
- Language B: Spanish SL/HL
- Mandarin Ab Initio SL
- Language B: Mandarin SL
- Group 3
- History: Route Two SL/HL
- Economics SL/HL (online)
- ITGS SL/HL (online)
- Business and Management SL/HL (online)
- Psychology SL (online)
- Social and Cultural Anthropology SL/HL
- Group 4
- Environmental Systems and Societies SL
- Biology HL
- Group 5
- Mathematical Studies SL
- Mathematics SL/HL
- Group 6
- Visual Arts 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 1 Course: Language A (Language and Literature)
Language A: language & literature comprises four parts—two relate to the study of language and two to the study of literature. The study of the texts produced in a language is central to an active engagement with language and culture and, by extension, to how we see and understand the world in which we live. A key aim of the language A: language and literature course is to encourage students to question the meaning generated by language and texts, which, it can be argued, is rarely straightforward and unambiguous. Helping students to focus closely on the language of the texts they study and to become aware of the role of each text’s wider context in shaping its meaning is central to the course.
The language A: language and literature course aims to develop in students skills of textual analysis and the understanding that texts, both literary and non-literary, can be seen as autonomous yet simultaneously related to culturally determined reading practices. The course is designed to be flexible—teachers have the opportunity to construct it in a way that reflects the interests and concerns that are relevant to their students while developing in students a range of transferable skills.
- Group 2 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 2 Course: Mandarin Ab Initio
Mandarin Ab Initio provides an opportunity for students with little or no experience to study Mandarin for two years at the IB Standard Level. 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 provides students with opportunities to use Chinese in real-life situations, to develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, and to cultivate an appreciation for the Chinese culture.
- Group 2 Course: Spanish Ab Initio
Spanish Ab Initio course is a language acquisition course for students with little or no experience of the Spanish 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 3 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 3 Course: Social and Cultural Anthropology
Social and Cultural Anthropology (SCA) is the comparative study of culture and human societies in an attempt to better understand humankind in all of its diversity. Students become better acquainted with anthropological perspectives and ways of thinking by exploring the general principles of social and cultural life at the local, national and international level, and by examining the implications of life in urban and rural societies and the regional inequalities that result in both.
SCA contributes to an understanding of such contemporary issues as war and conflict, the environment, poverty, problems of injustice, inequality, and human rights. It has evolved in many ways, but retains its original focus on ordinary people. The overall goal for students enrolled in the SCA course is to develop a more emic perspective of the world by applying their cultural knowledge to the places that we live and visit.
- Group 4 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 4 Course: Environmental Science and Society (ES&S)
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 5 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 5 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 5 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.
- Group 6 Course: Visual Arts
The IBDP Visual Arts course encourages an active exploration of visual arts within both the students’ own and other cultural contexts. TGS students have the unique opportunity to explore a variety of visual cultures and traditions in situ, and are encouraged to draw from their first-hand experience of each location. The study of visual arts and the journey within it encourages respect for cultural and aesthetic differences and promotes creative thinking and problem solving.
Within the Visual Arts course there is a balance between theory and practice, which connects many areas of study and human experience through individual and collaborative production and interpretation.
Students enrolled in Visual Arts are assessed on the work that they produce during their two years of study.
Course descriptions for Pamoja Courses delivered online:
All descriptions below come from the Pamoja website at www.pamojaeducation.com
- Group 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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.