Teaching Integers…Successfully!

As you delve deep into your curriculum, integer operations usually sits close to the beginning of the year for most 7th, 8th, and Algebra courses. I would like to take the time to share with you a resource that a colleague of mine found a few years ago and I’ve used ever since.

Integers Made Easy: Just Walk It Off

Julie Nurnberger-Haag does a wonderful job teaching students how to add, subtract, multiply and divide integers using a life-size number line in her article Integers Made Easy: Just Walk It Off. Students follow a very small set of guidelines for performing operations on integers using a number line place on the floor, large enough for students to walk about. Supplies needed are painters tape, notecards, and integer problems. This can be done outside using sidewalk chalk as well; however, you must have exceptional control over your class in order for this activity to be meaningful to students.

I have enclosed a word document similar to one I use in class for students to record their specific steps they performed to arrive at the solution. Students may not like the writing portion, but this is just another avenue for students to put the information into long-term memory. In many cases, it slows the student down and requires them to really think about what they are doing and why they’re doing it. Have student practice verbalizing their steps out loud to you as a means of explaining their answers. You could even do as a small assessment in this manner.

Walk It Off

Later in the year, when students get confused with their integer rules, either you or a fellow classmate will have a way to explain how to arrive at the correct solution.

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Comments

  • Brian Crawford  On September 7, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    sounds like a great idea! Kids do seem to have fun learning when they get to move around and have a bit of fun.

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