Sunday 27 October 2013

Working with Integers

How many of us struggle with explaining integers?  I know that I do.  I find it most difficult to teach topics that are completely obvious to me, that I don't remember ever learning.  So integers are right up there.  Many years ago my friend, Tom Seidenberg, told me that he used the idea of a hot air balloon and sand bags.  I ran with that and have been using it ever since.  I am by no means saying that this is the best way to teach integers, but it does give students something concrete to hang on to.  I must also say that my students have already been taught about integers, but many did not understand them the first time.  This gives students a different way of thinking about integers.  It takes a lot more than this to get them comfortable working with integers, but this is how I start.

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