Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay |

A fellow teacher asked for help teaching integers. Students are having a real difficult time understanding integer operations and it's very crucial for them to learn it. In the past couple of years, I have tried several methods to teach integers but I find the following method better than others. It's making a lot more sense to the students.

Using Bank Account for Teaching Integers:

10-5 : I deposited 10 dollars, spent (withdrew) 5.

10+5: I deposited 10, then 5 more.

-10+5: I spent 10 dollars, and then deposited 5.

-10-5: I spent 10 dollars at Store A, then spent another 5 at Store B. How much did I spent altogether?

-10+(-5): I have spent 10, then withdrew 5.

10- (-5): This could be a little tricky. I would suggest: Teach them subtracting a negative is the same thing as adding. So they would turn -(-5) into +5 and then continue thinking as above.

To explain why subtracting a negative becomes adding: You can try debt. Let's say you have a debt of 5 dollars. A friend of yours pays off your debt for you for free. This takes away your debt so your actual account would increase 5 dollars. A little complicated, huh? Then, just tell them to turn that into a plus :)

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