Halley Knigge (Griffin)

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Why I do what I do

When I was in third grade, I loved math. I’d race through logic puzzles and math worksheets because it was a matter of pride to beat the boys. That kind of blatant, in-your-face, “I’m smart and it’s okay” attitude is not so common these days. In fact, it’s pretty rare – especially in girls.

What I had that other third-grade girls didn’t, was a place where I could be smart without the pressure to fit in. Where it was cool to raise your hand in class, or win every round of Brainquest (remember those?).

I had Seabury, a non-profit independent school for gifted children in Tacoma, Wash. I graduated from Seabury School in eighth grade, and went on to public high school, the University of Washington and a stint as a journalist in Moscow, Idaho. But last fall I decided to throw my life plans to the wind and move back to Tacoma to work at my old elementary school.

Why? Because I love this place. I am passionate about what we do here – providing a safe place for academically gifted students to learn and explore without having to fear being misunderstood, under whelmed or left out. I’m in charge of new and traditional media relations, and I love what I do. As a journalist, I always said I could only become a flak if it was for an organization or a cause that I was truly passionate about. Well this is it.

I run our school’s Twitter and Facebook pages, along with a personal Twitter I use for networking in Tacoma and the South Sound. I am our resident blog guru and help teachers design, tweak and update classroom blogs. I have several personal blogs as well, but everything I do comes back to wanting to spread the word far and wide so we can find every kid who needs us.

It’s not so cheap to run a school – teachers are paid for through tuition, but tuition also pays for a huge amount of financial aid. Need and aid are increasing every year, and lately it’s hard to find an extra dime to spend. That’s why social media has been so valuable for us. Suddenly there’s a way to network with other gifted educators and advocates for free every Friday (through #gtchat), sharing resources and tricks of the trade. There’s definitely not money in our budget for another conference this year, but I can’t stop thinking about all the new tools and tricks that’ll be ripe for the learning.

Send me Tungle, you’re my only hope. And really, who else can promise you an envelope of adorable thank-you letters from a school of adorable gifted children?



(This post was written in the hopes of securing a Gnomedex pass via Tungle.me)

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dot dot dot

A re-post from the Seabury School French blog — sometimes my life is made up of scanning, erasing and scrambling numbers for Dot-to-dots.

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By now, we all know that French is fun.

(Hopefully) your students come home each week with stories of the new games we play in class. Raise your hand if you’ve heard about “the candy game?” Or le jeu des bonbons?

Students may think the most memorable aspect of the ever-popular Jelly Belly taste-test game is the fact that they’re eating Jelly Bellys in class — but you can bet the next time Mme. O or Mlle. H says la fraise, it’s the taste of that strawberry bonbon that the students are thinking of.

As Mme. O says, that’s the difference between learning something, and picking it up or absorbing it.

On the surface a game is a game with French sprinkled in — in reality, it is so much more than that.

Today Les Etoiles Super will have fun with a “Dot-to-dot.” But there are a few things that need to be done before we can enjoy this simplest of number games.

First, the original Dot-to-dots have to be scanned to a computer.

Then each number is carefully erased.

The numbers (1 to 20) are scrambled and typed back in.

And the Dot-to-dots are finally ready.

We begin after careful instructions that this is a different kind of Dot-to-dot. You can not simply trace from 1 to 2 to 3 — you must wait for Madame or Mademoiselle’s instructions to trace from cinq to vingt to dix-huit, to onze.

The Dot-to-dotting is just as fun as before, but we’ve added constant repetition of les nombres en français.

It’s the Dot-to-dot (and beautiful finished picture) that is consciously remembered — but those numbers have a way of sticking in a brain, especially if they work their way in during something FUN!