Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching integers

We are in our first week back from winter break, and it is the LONGEST week ever!  Our kids are getting ready to take junior high honors tests and all the junior highs are coming around to give their "Come to our school" spiel.  Needless to say, I like structure and routine, and this is sending the kiddos into a whirl wind.

We are in the midst of trying to nail down integers, which may not be developmentally appropriate for sixth graders, but I have to say that teaching integers with pictures has made the process a little more bearable.  Does anyone else use this method?  Sometimes it is called hot cubes, cold cubes, and sometimes it is played with chips.

Here's a powerpoint that explains it with chips:  Illustrating Integers

I use symbols with my kids since they won't always have chips or cubes available to use in homework and state testing.  I tell students to represent positive numbers with a plus sign and negative numbers with a circle.

The problem 3-5= would be illustrated like this:

     A student would start by writing down 3 "+" signs since the first number in the problem is +3.  Since the next value is -5, students write down 5 circles beginning by circling any + signs.  The pictures with both a + and a circle cancel each other out and the symbols left alone will be the answer.  Since there are 2 negative circles left alone, the answer is negative 2.

I love this!!!

There are some great internet resources to supplement an integer unit!!
Johnnie's Math Page ~interactive games
Line Jumper ~interactive activity using number lines
Math Play ~more than adding and subtracting


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