Monthly Archives: July 2017

From NPR News

Teachers With Student Debt: These Are Their Stories
And this is where I reveal that I have decided to go back to school to get that degree in Elementary Education (masters). And brag about my student loans.
I borrowed $20,000 for UVA. I started repaying that 6 months after graduating in 2011. I currently owe less than $4000 and have MORE than enough in my bank account to pay that off tomorrow. My next actual loan payment isn’t due until September of 2019. Let me repeat: 2019! This includes a 6 month stint where I deferred my loan payments because it took me 2 years after graduating to start working 1 day a week and another year to get to full time with benefits. 
I had started out with $2000 in my bank account when I graduated college. This was from me working only 2 of the 4 summers before, at (or below) minimum wage. My dad helped me pay off my student loan debt by deferring my rent/grocery payment until I had income and loaning me some money before I got the deferrment. Yes, I paid him back earlier than scheduled.
How did I accomplish this feat? ALWAYS pay more than the minimum payment. My loans’ minimum payment is $167/month, so I’d send $200, even when my funds were limited. 
…..will continue after work…

Editable Calendar/Planner

So, I’ll be starting school again at the end of August! This will eventually get me a masters in elementary education with initial licensure so that I can teach in Virginia.

I know I’ll need a calendar/planner to help me keep track of classes and homework. At first I was going to buy one that had all the features I want, but I hate spending money on something that I won’t use to it’s fullest, so I decided that I’d go with a printable version in a binder that I already utilize for my postage stamps.

I knew that I wanted a monthly spread with squares that are big enough to actually write in. Most of the monthly calendars I found online only utilized one sheet of paper, meaning that the squares weren’t particularly big. I didn’t want a heavily decorated page, either, but the plain ones were very plain.

I like the way a purchased planner goes onto a two page spread. So, not finding exactly what I wanted, I turned to Google Docs (my preferred word processor). Using just the Table tool, I was able to create a two page calendar spread that I think will work nicely. There is plenty of space on around the perimeter for jotting notes or adding decorations.

Here’s the link to the calendar I’ve created. You should be able to edit it, but I have a feeling that the way that editing is set up, you’ll actually be altering my original document, so please try not to delete anything of real importance because then it’ll be gone when the next person comes by. I do encourage you to customize the fonts, update the months and feel free to leave it with your changes. I just don’t want to lose the Tables and their respective pages because that way we know they’ll print out correctly.

If you don’t want a “cover page”, you’ll still need to make sure that the first page is blank or else you won’t get a proper spread when you print double sided. If you are printing single sided, this is less important.

You’ll notice that the squares don’t have numbers in them. I did this because I didn’t want to spend ages typing something that will just have to be redone next year. I don’t mind writing in the dates as I set up my calendar for them month.

Edit: So apparently July 2017 is a huge month! I was writing the numbers in for my personal calendar and found that I don’t have enough squares for the last week (days 30 and 31). I’ve debated adding another row of squares to the calendar template I’ve shared here and decided not to. Months like this are relatively rare, so I don’t want to take up space with a row of squares that will often be unnecessary.

For my calendar, I’ve just put 30 and 31 in “invisible boxes” where they’d be. Because of the margins of the paper, if I were to put the extra row in, all the boxes would have to shrink or these two squares would be smaller than the rest which would look weird. Since my boxes are invisible, they’re theoretically the same size as the rest of my boxes.

You can always divide the box into two as happens in many wall calendars. I know you can put a diagonal line in the box with Excel, but I haven’t been able to figure this out in Google Drive.

How to teach math in elementary school in six easy steps.

First, find a fantastic middle school Algebra teacher.

Second, ask them what are the most important skills necessary for learning Algebra.

Third, have them teach you Algebra, highlighting skills the student should already know.

Fourth, find a fantastic high school Calculus teacher.

Fifth, ask them what are the most important skills necessary for learning Calculus.

Sixth, have them teach you Calculus, highlighting skills the student should already know.
I STILL get pissed at my fourth grade teacher (who I otherwise loved) because she told me I had to do fractions vertically instead of horizontally! I still think this was/is the stupidest math lesson ever! In every subsequent math class I took, all the way through calculus, equations are done across the page (horizontally) and can sometimes take over the entire whiteboard. Learning to do fractions vertically was really a stupid waste of time!

Of course, math equations are solved by continuing vertically down the page, but even then, the combinations (which can include items that are division problems, which are what fractions are!) are done on a horizontal basis. You work across and bring the answer down.

In high school, I got annoyed with my friends’ teachers of years past because they’d come to me with pretty basic algebra problems and be completely thrown by the variables. While a blank is okay for lesson one, lesson two should be that x, y, and z are all alternatives to the blank and the blank should be quickly weaned away in favor of proper variables.

One of the most important things a math teacher ever told us was that stuff you learn in math class will only make sense 2 or 3 years after you first learn about it because that is when you learn to apply it to the real world. Too bad this was my Calculus teacher talking and I was nearing the end of my journey with math. I think we are misguided to try to save kids interest in math by keeping them away from the bigger picture while they learn the basics. 

Telling or showing kids why they’re learning a skill is THE  single most important thing you can do as a teacher. “Because it’s important” is a crappy cop out answer that should be banished from your vocabulary! If you do not know WHY you are teaching your students a skill, you should NOT be a teacher!! 

My dad would chant: “fractions, decimals, money, they’re all the same thing” whenever my homework was on one of these topics. I didn’t  understand him because I was too focused on giving my teacher exactly what she wanted.

Now, I literally go from fractions to decimals in the seconds between measuring and cutting (the paper cutter uses decimals, my line gauge fractions).



1 flippen 32=.031

And yes, I will sometimes need to go even smaller to get a border to match! .005 movements aren’t fun!
Oh! One of the interesting byproducts of this quick mental conversion I use at work is that when I’m writing down my measurements I will seriously write: 8. 5/8. You see that superfluous decimal point? Yeah. Honestly, I can’t for see how that hurts anything when teaching fractions and decimals because it really means the same thing. 8 and five eighths? 8 point five eighths? 8 point one two five? I wouldn’t make a point to teach this this way because it is messy and you CANNOT have messy in calculus, but it would be a good bridge between fractions and decimals, which is really all just division!

As for metric, my favorite machine uses these. I just flip my line guage over because it has that scale on it, but a coworker took the time to do the conversion with the same results (of course ☺). I don’t use millimeters often enough to use them in everyday life, but I do like that everything is in whole numbers when I measure for this machine. There’s two reasons for that: the machine doesn’t accept fractions and a half a millimeter is too small to make a difference on this machine. Still, mremorizing fractions of millimetres on the line gauge are EASY: 6/10= 0.6; 1/10=0.1 😉

 I still have trouble memorizing 7/16=.467? No. I checked; it’s .4375. The paper cutter can do a four function calculator’s job, so I usually just add up the pieces until I get it memorized because of repetition. Or in this case, I’d probably do .5-.062, but I don’t do math in my head, especially subtraction. Being quicker like that does NOT mean you’re smarter! It is only one skill that not everyone has. So long as we all get the right answer eventually, life is good.