When I teach the topic of integers I start with a hands-on model, which is interactive with students using algebra tiles or tile spacers at their desk and using an interactive website that involves virtual manipulatives. This is really useful for the learner who needs to visually see what a positive and negative is and the operations involved with integers.


The next day I teach integers using a vertical number line so that students can relate the concept to real life, such as being on an elevator. Most textbooks teach integers with a horizontal number line. I introduce integers with a horizontal number line but then discuss the benefits of using a vertical number line. In doing this, students see the content standard in multiple ways and it reaches all types of learners in the classroom.  

Add Integers Using a Number Line PREVIEW

The next lesson involves the rules and using what we have learned and discovered. After several days of seeing the concept differently students can really understand why subtracting a negative is really adding a positive (and not just memorizing the rules.) So with all of my lessons I try to meet the needs of all types of learners and reach all learning modalities. Most importantly, I don’t just tell my students to memorize the rules, I let them discover the rules and I always show they why something works. This is very powerful in a Mathematics classroom! 

Here is an example of the interactive website below.  Students love doing this activity and it really helps visualize the abstract concept of integers, which can be challenging for many students when it comes to subtracting integers. I love the fact that it shows negatives as "in the red" and positive as "in the black." I talk about these concepts in the Math Slideshow called "Add Integers Hands On Model." It is also the perfect model for subtracting integers because students can visually see that when you subtract a negative it is the same as adding a positive. Students can visualize this concept because they add in zero pairs or a neutral field (one + and one -) to be able to take away values. They can see that when you take away something, you are actually leaving something behind (or adding in something.)

This is taken from the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives


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