Today we continued our integer practice with the page protector whiteboards that I created this summer. I put the practice pages in the page protectors and suddenly the kids were excited to do a bunch of problems and there was absolutely no complaining about doing it! I had the kids use 2 colors and compared it to the sticker activity we did yesterday. Obviously we can’t use stickers every time they have to add integers, but using two different colors is a possibility for a while.

I also did a lovely one woman dance along the number line on the wall to explain why 8 – (-2) does not equal 6. As soon as I explained that the minus sign and the negative sign mean to turn around, so two of them in a row mean to turn around twice I heard that magical sound that all teachers live for… the collective “OOOOOOH!” followed by a “Now I get it!”

I got to hear that noise again today when we looked at the problem -5 -2 again. Most of the groups got this one wrong the first time, so I addressed it with the whole group. The mistake was the same each time, everyone could see that the 5 was negative, but they all considered 2 a positive number, and the explanation was the same each time, “but you are subtracting 2, not subtracting -2”. So I told them the secret that everyone has been hiding from them for years… subtracting and negative are the SAME THING! So if you think of -5 -2 as one group of 5 negatives and one group of 2 negatives, the problem seems a lot easier.

Hopefully with all of this integer practice, things will go smoothly the rest of the year!

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Hahaha! I love my students reaction when I say that EXACT same thing that you do (in the last paragraph). They act so shocked – as if they have been lied to their entire life. “WHAT?!?! The – sign doesn’t always means subtract!?!” 6th graders are so much fun to teach.

Also, I love that you put the worksheet in a page protector for practice. Great idea!