Writing Mechanics: When should I write numbers in word form?

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The rules for writing numbers in a sentence or paragraph haven’t changed over the years, but for some reason, I still feel the need to double-check them.   I’m not sure why numbers are such a stumbling block, but any time I need to communicate a quantity, dollar amount, percentage, measurement, or date, I wind up questioning how to write it correctly.  I can never remember if I’m supposed to write the numbers in words, or if I’m supposed to write them in figures?

If you have the same questions, here’s a quick guide to help you know when numbers should be written as words:

Numbers From 1 Through 10:

The numbers 1 through 10 should be written in words when used in isolated instances.

Example:  Each of the four students has one hour to complete the exam.


Numbers That Begin Sentences:

Any number that begins a sentence should be written in words.

Example:  Twenty-four hours is a long time to wait for an answer.  


When spelling out large numbers over a thousand, use the shortest form possible.

Example:  Fifteen hundred orders were received during the first week of business.


Fractions Standing Alone:

A fraction that stands alone without a whole number should be written in words.

Example:  Approximately one-half of the pie was eaten before dinner was served.



Ages should be written in words unless they are considered significant statistics or technical measurements. 

Example 1:  Jackie began working for the company when she was nineteen years old. 

Example 2: Only employees who will have reached age 55 by January 1 of next year will be eligible for the new policy.


Periods of Time: 

General periods of time are usually written in words.

Example:  Although this textbook was written fifteen years ago, it still contains pertinent information.


Curriculum Toolbox: from hodgepodge to cohesive

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During my undergraduate days, I was headlong into all of my pre-teaching training courses. I truly enjoyed all of them. But, as I neared my junior and senior years of college, I began to get more into the philosophies of teaching. It seems that, at that time, the prevalent theories of teaching led my professors to refuse to tout the use of specific curriculum. That was both good and bad. It was good because it forced me to think along the lines that I did not need to depend on current published curriculum to be able to teach well. It was bad, however, because it generated the incorporation of a hodgepodge type of homemade curriculum that was left strictly up to me to develop and teach—risky, to say the least.

After I landed my first teaching gig, I knew I was in trouble because the school district had a mandated curriculum, which is what I was told would probably happen. We were taught in college to “just close your door and teach the way you know is right.” Well, that was risky, too, because my lack of experience in the classroom made it nearly impossible to know “what was right.” So, I proceeded with what I thought was right while still trying to adhere to the required curriculum. What I discovered unsettled me. Not only was I realizing that the prescribed curriculum had been chosen because the school got a good deal on it, but also I learned that it was fragmented. I WAS becoming an expert at hodgepodge because I had to scour resource after resource to find filler curriculum to bridge the gaps between the reading books, spelling books, language arts books, and the all the other subjects I had to teach. So, I suppose it was a good thing that I had been taught how to do it, but I was on very shaky ground. What’s worse is that my students were paying for my instability. I found myself plodding even deeper into other resources that might offer me a happy-medium. I needed a curriculum that would bridge the gaps, especially in the language arts arena—and I needed the bridging to make sense. My hodgepodge approach was creating chaos. What became clear to me was that I lacked the connective tissue between methodology and curriculum…that’s when, after a couple of location changes and school district changes, I got wind of Shurley English—and a breath of fresh air it was!

Finally…a curriculum that articulated the language arts in a way that was both methodical and systematic. It was the curricular sinew I needed to bridge the gaps I knew existed in my current system. If you read an earlier article of mine Becoming a Real Teacher, you know that all of the chaos I had inadvertently created through my hodgepodge curricular approach gradually dissipated into thin air. I had stumbled upon a technique of teaching that far surpassed any of the practical information that had been available to me in my teacher training days. What was more, I had a new sense of direction…and I just KNEW I was heading in the right direction for the first time since having begun my teaching career.

What about you? Is your backstory similar to mine? Have you been closing your door and teaching with less than enthusiasm and more frustration than you can bear to face? Is your district funding at a standstill, forcing you to generate a hodgepodge of pieces of curriculum with holes in it?  If you’re looking for a method of teaching—no, check that…a  purpose for teaching that takes your knowledge base further than you would have hoped, don’t miss the chance to bring Shurley English to your classroom. It might well be the solution for you as it was for me.

Shurley English 101: Pushing beyond your comfort zone

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Just like many of you, teachers across the United States are experiencing lots of change during this time of year like switching classrooms or schools, learning new curricula, and welcoming a new class of students.  Changes like these push us outside of our comfort zones. 

I used to look at veteran teachers and thought they had less planning and preparing to do because they could use lessons from their previous years.  I’d dream of the day when I could relax at the beginning of the year and coast through my lessons like they were, or so it seemed.   For some reason, I believed I could avoid the inevitable changes in our field; I was proven wrong when I changed grade levels for the first three years of my teaching career.   I also learned that those veteran teachers still worked just as hard as the new teachers.   What an interesting welcome to the world of education.  I learned quickly that change is the one thing that always remains consistent. 

During one of my recent training sessions, I quickly learned that my audience was full of brand new teachers of Shurley English.  From my perspective, I thought, “How exciting!”  On the contrary, I could tell from the faces in the audience that the teachers were feeling more overwhelmed than excited.  Most of them were new to the school and were in the middle of their “professional development boot-camp.”  It seemed as though the beginning of the year pressure had set in, and it was crunch-time for this staff!

As teachers, we would never expect our students, on the first day of school, to know all of the concepts that we will be teaching them throughout the year.   As a Shurley English Consultant who trains teachers how to implement the curriculum into their classrooms, I would never expect my audience to master the concepts I teach them in one day!  Over the years, it’s become evident that many teachers want to learn or believe that they need to learn a new curriculum in one training session.   Realistically, I think we can all agree that learning something new takes time and effort.  There’s no need for this kind of unnecessary pressure when learning a new curriculum like Shurley English.   Not only does Shurley English make learning grammar, skills, and writing easy for your students; it also sets you, the educator, up for a successful year of teaching.  We cannot avoid change, but we can practice pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones. 

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, here’s my quick advice:

  1. Be willing to recreate the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Level-up your teaching!

  2. Step into this new situation with a beginner’s mindset.  Be truly open to learning something new.

  3. Seek out training…ASAP!  It’s okay to ask for training. Knowledge will empower you.


So, take a breath and take it one lesson at a time.  Once you get used to pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, you’ll experience more resilience when you’re faced with change in and out of the classroom.  

Bonus Blog: Do you want your Shurley English classroom to soar? Check out this blog entitled, “Taking off with Shurley English.” You’ll be glad you did!