We are excited to announce that THINK Global School has been selected as an Apple Distinguished School for 2015-2017. The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for schools and programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments. Apple Distinguished Schools demonstrate the use of Apple hardware, apps, and content to promote creativity, collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking to transform learning and teaching.
Due to our school’s nomadic nature, technology has been baked into every facet of our program since its inception, and Apple has been our primary hardware and software brand since those first days as well (each student and staff member at TGS is equipped with a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone, along with a variety of software and apps). We travel fast and light: all of our files are stored online and technology is integrated into all of our teachers’ lessons. During our term in Greece, for example, Spanish teacher Sam Nelson incorporated QR codes and iPhones into a lesson on irregular verbs in the preterite tense by sending his students on a high-tech scavenger hunt, the QR codes revealing the next clue when scanned with the iPhone. Similarly, science teachers Jarret Voytilla and Tessa Siebrits utilized Lego Mindstorms robotics kits in their science workshop for a unit on kinematics. Students used their MacBook Pros to run the Lego NXT or EV3 software to program their robotic inventions and design their own company websites, and used their iPhone 5’s to video-record their robots in action.
Head of Technology & Strategic Outreach
“Apple technologies have always been such a core part of how we operate at THINK Global School. They have allowed us to focus less on the basics of support and more on newer and better modes of learning. This distinction by Apple is exciting to us as an opportunity to further tell our technology story and also as an opportunity to help inspire other schools to develop successful technology stories of their own.”
“We wanted to try a different approach for what is often found to be a dry and abstract-math heavy subject. Using a design-based science approach, we used Lego Mindstorms kits and our Apple hardware to let the students model scenarios involving kinematic principles. We gave students the minimum parameters of what the final product needed to satisfy, and then let them unleash their creativity and decide their own way of finishing each Mission. This allowed Tessa and I to provide contingent support for learning at an individual level, and students had the opportunity to explore and direct their own learning goals.” -Jarret Voytilla, Science Teacher
Digital Learning on the go
At THINK Global School, we believe that technology can and should inspire and facilitate learning anywhere, and it proves just as useful during our weXplores as it does at our host schools. Nick Martino is one of many teachers who makes excellent uses of podcasts both before and after excursions. Prior to a trip, Nick will record a podcast that aids his students in accomplishing their learning objectives. Usually between five to ten minutes long, these podcasts provide a “preXplore” to the weXplore, offering a primer so that his students don’t go into the lesson cold. During our term in Hyderabad, India, Nick offered his students the opportunity to observe the religious ritual sacrifice of animals during Eid al-Adha — a custom many of them were far from familiar with. Prior to viewing the slaughter, Nick prepared a podcast for his students explaining the history of the custom and why the holiday is so important to Muslims around the world. Armed with this knowledge, Nick’s students were able to appreciate the outing even if they were uncomfortable with the sacrifice itself.
Global Studies Teacher
"Before the students witnessed this ritual firsthand, it was important for me to explain the origins of sacrifice across the world. I didn't want them to view Eid ethnocentrically, but instead to see it as a rite of unification and intensification for believers. After the ritual the students had informed discussions with the practitioners to gain the emic perspective."
Regularly after particularly thought-provoking excursions, Nick and our other teachers will engage their classes in a student roundtable discussion, allowing the students to reflect on the events of the day or week while they are still fresh in their mind. Often times these conversations are recorded with an iPhone, and many of them can be found on our podcast page.
Last year we began scaling up our concept of preXplore by further introducing the concept of blended learning into our curriculum. Prior to arriving in Monte Verde, Costa Rica, for the second term of the 2014-15 school year, all of our students spent two weeks completing their coursework at home. Many of the lessons included in this coursework, especially for our ninth and tenth graders, centered around familiarizing our students with the concepts and terms that would be the focus of their lessons once in the field. The general consensus after the term concluded was that the blended learning unit had greatly enhanced the conversations on the ground, and that our students had more time to delve deeper into their subjects by not needing to learn the basic concepts while on the go. Our students will also participate in a blended learning unit before arriving in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the second term of our 2015-16 school year.
Some of our most compelling examples of success utilizing technology have undoubtedly come from our students. All of our students are enrolled in a newMedia course with Lindsay Clark. where they learn how to efficiently use their Apple devices and communicate online using a range of software applications, including Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.
“Our 3:1 model allows for such amazing content creation and innovative teaching methods to occur in our nomadic environment. We’ve already done so much with our Apple products, and it still feels like we have only tapped a fraction of our potential with technology in learning.” -Lindsay Clark, newMedia Lab teacher
Utilizing their training (and in many cases prior experience), many of our students use film cameras and the cameras on their iPhone to document their extensive travels, in many cases combining their images with written reflections. This combination of mediums was the basis for TGS graduate Hannah Cho’s book “Terminal” (“터미널”) , which was released in South Korea last year.
Students in newMedia also turn to video to document their travels. TGS graduate Liisa Toomus would create love letters to the countries that we visit, and this summer 10th grader Elliot W. won best documentary by a 13-15 year old at the Brighton Youth Film Festival for his documentary short “The Pursuit of Adventure.” And 12th grader River W. recently came in second place for her contributions to the student-organized and produced Tohoku Project, which documented the realities of life in Rikuzentakata, Japan, four years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. You can learn more about that project here.
Grade 10 Student
"Having these three devices has improved my skills to a new level of learning. It has increased the velocity of my productivity at least 10 times what I could do before I came to TGS."
Some of our students prefer to exercise the left side of their brain, building software applications that improve the school or creating blogs that expose political injustices: last year, 12th grader Jake built an iOS app that greatly improved upon our student check-in procedure and 12th grader Paul regularly posts on his political blog The Vandalist.
Download our ebook “Technology Meets Travel”
We would like to send a sincere thank you to our dedicated staff members and students, whose ongoing efforts have made this distinction possible. If you would like to learn more about the Apple Distinguished School program, click here. To learn more about our technology story, download THINK Global School – Technology Meets Travel (requires Apple iBooks to view).