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Q&A #107


Integers - teaching strategies

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From: Cindy Wilkins (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 02, 1998 at 12:48:44
Subject: Re: Integers - teaching strategies

My first recommendation is: take your time. Students need time to assimilate 
the information, even though the "teaching" has ended. 

One strategy I started using last year was to stagger the teaching. For 
example, after teaching addition and subtraction of integers, I spent class 
days teaching something totally unrelated, such as types of graphs, while the 
students had 2 weeks of related integer homework (never more than 10 problems 
per night, and none on graphs). This was followed by teaching multiplication 
and division of integers, then 2 more weeks of another topic, but this time 
with 15 homework problems of all operations. Total teaching time was the same, 
just partitioned differently.

Here are some of the activities I do to introduce integers: 

  Integer War, played just like the game of War but with red cards negative;

  Toss the Chips, where you use eight 2-color counters per group (students toss
  them, determine the number of positives and negatives, and record their score 
  - the winner after 10 minutes is the person with the highest absolute value 
  score);

  Adding and subtracting with 2- color counters;

  Walking the number line (I string a number line the entire length of my room 
  with number cards every foot -15 to 15; to add, students face the door and to 
  subtract they face the window: for positive numbers they walk forward and for 
  negative numbers they walk backward. So for the problem -5 + 2, they stand at 
  the -5 mark and face the door (add) and walk forward 2 spaces; for the 
  problem -3 - 4, they stand at the -3 mark, face the window (subtract) and 
  walk forward 4 spaces; for 2 - (-4), stand at the 2, face the window and walk 
  backward 4. My students moan and groan when I do this, but the ones who need 
  it LOVE it. I show them how to reproduce the activity on their paper 
  numberlines using a pencil as the student.  

  A final activity my students like is Around the World. Just as in the 
  elementary school game, the student who is "It" stands next to the first 
  student and they race to determine the answer to the problems. My "flash 
  cards" are a deck of playing cards with red as negative. We first go around
  the room with addition, then with subtraction of the second card from
  the first, then multiplication. For division, students just yell positive or 
  negative.

- Cindy

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