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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