I always start off my eighth grade classes with a review of integers. Fluency in integer operations is SO important for pretty much every other skill that students will learn in eighth grade.
My favorite way to open up our integer review involves a document camera, projector, and some basic round manipulatives with a different color on each side. My set is represented with yellow for positive and red for negative. I write out a few basic problems that can be easily modeled using the chips then call on students to help with the modeling. For example:
I call on 4 different students to help me with each example:
Student 1: Start with 3 red chips.
Student 2: Add 5 yellow chips.
Student 3: Match up the 3 pairs. Each pair equals 0 because 1+(-1)=0. Remove the pairs.
Student 4: The result is 2 because there are two yellow chips left.
SHARE A STORY
To help students remember the rules for multiplying and dividing integers, I share this story (a version of this told to me by a colleague):
If you want to be friends with someone and they want to be friends with you, that’s a good thing! (positive x positive = positive)
If you don’t want to be friends with someone and they don’t want to be friends with you, that’s no big deal. Go your separate ways. (negative x negative = positive)
If you want to be friends with someone but they don’t want to be friends with you, that’s a negative thing. (positive x negative = negative)
If you do not want to be friends with someone but they do want to be friends with you, this can be annoying. (negative x positive = negative)
Here’s another version:
If a good thing happens to a good character, we’re happy.
If a bad thing happens to a bad character, we cheer.
If a good thing happens to a bad character, we don’t like this.
If a bad thing happens to a good character, we’re sad.
I also give students time to practice, practice, practice using flashcards. Each pair gets a pile of flashcards and one partner starts as the flasher. The other begins by computing the answers. (The answers are all written on the back.) After about 3 minutes, I have them switch roles. I love this independent time for two reasons.
A) They are getting actual practice and everyone is engaged.
B) I do this during the first week of school so this gives me time to walk around practice names and get to know my students.
BACK TO SCHOOL
I also have a fun “All About Me with Integers” activity that works well within the first week of school. Students answer questions about themselves, then use a key to translate the letters into integers, then add them all together. You will get to know your students on a personal level and also begin to develop an understanding of how much information about integers they retained.
Click here to learn more about one of my most popular practice activities for rational numbers.