Friday, July 27, 2012

Integer Foldable

The first real page that I do for pre-algebra is on integers.  By the time they get to me in 8th grade they have certainly learned how to add, subtract, multiply & divide integers but they usually still don't have the hang of it.  I've tried number lines and algebra tiles and rules and they still struggle.

If I could pick one thing to be able to teach and magically have the kids understand, it would be integers.  But unfortunately, I've got no magic here.  So instead I have them record the rules and examples so they can refer back to it as much as necessary in the hopes that eventually it'll stick.

On the right side we record the rules in a foldable:
Outside of the foldable.  I let kids write the words and symbols and color however they want, they like it.

Inside of the foldable

This is an example of a foldable that I complete over a number of days.

This is what it looks like with the left side pages.  Notice that the left side is actually three pages taped one on top of the other so that they flip up.

On the first day we record the rules for multiplication and division.  I will usually have them come up with the examples on their own giving them a little bit of direction (for same signs I tell them to pick one with two negatives and one with two positives).  After recording the rules we tape down the bottom page on the left side.  This is just a practice worksheet with multiplying and dividing.

On day two we do addition rules.  Then we practice on the left side.  The addition worksheet is the middle one.

On the last day we do subtracting.  I use "keep, change, change" because that's what most of my kids are used to.  I always tell them though that if they use "keep, flip, change" or "add the opposite" then they should write that instead.  Then they tape the top worksheet in on the left side and practice.

Inside the subtraction flap, I have them use a highlighter to change the signs and label the "keep, change, change" so that if they were to look back in the future, they can see exactly what they did.  Otherwise, I worry that if they just copy down what I'm doing they will just look back in the future and see an addition problem and have no idea what happened.

This is a set of pages where my left side is not spectacular or creative, it's just the practice that I felt they need.  There are tons of other things you could put over here depending on what your kids needed. 

Now the other part of this foldable is that after we make it, I refuse to just tell kids how to do these types of problems.  If I come over and they ask something like, "Wait, so 2 + -10 is -8, right?" instead of just saying yes I will open their ISN and guide them through the problem always asking the same questions:
   "Are you adding or subtracting?" adding ... I open the addition tab
   "Are the signs the same or different?"  different ... I point to the different sign rule 
   "So are you finding the sum or difference?" difference
   "Is that what you did?" yes
   "So is it the right answer?" yes
About this time they usually get annoyed that I didn't just tell them yes.  After we go through this process a bunch times they won't bother asking me because I know I won't tell them and instead just look up the rules themselves.  Exactly what I wanted :)

Also a note on differentiating just in general- for most of my kids the rules is sufficient.  For something like this, I've found that most of them prefer to just have specific rules to refer to.  There are always some though that I can tell are totally lost and with them I will have them use a number line to work through addition/subtraction problems.


  1. Agreed Kuta is a fantastic resource! Also I love your integer operations foldable. I hope you'll be sharing your Algebra 1 and 2 ISNs as well as your Prealgebra :)

  2. You've inspired me to try an ISN with my algebra 1 block class (really low math students). I think they'll really like a break from routine note taking and instead get to be more creative with these foldables. Thanks!

    1. That's so awesome!! The ISN is really great for lower kids and it can also really help to break up the time in a block period and keep things interesting.

  3. This is my third year teaching and I decided to change the way that I was having the students take notes in my class. We were using loose pieces of paper and trying to create Cornell Notes as a school wide effort. This year, I wanted students to use a notebook and include a table of content so that they may be able to refer to their notes more quickly and not lose their sheets, which some had a tendency to do. I felt as though some students were not using their notes as a tool. A colleague introduced me to your blog. I would like to start this but I'm afraid that my notes wouldn't be as interactive. I really like your approach for integers and I find it easier for students to understand a process when they don't get tripped up on their integers. My questions for you are how do you come up with such cool ways to create these interactive notebook ideas (I understand that some notes may be less involved)? How long does it take for you to implement a routine? Do you have students prep all of the papers that you need that get glued onto the notebooks?

    1. That's great that you're trying to make sure their notes are useable. I'm really interested in Cornell notes..I'd really like to use them.

      As far as creating the foldables, stay tuned for tomorrow and tuesday's posts...I tried to explain my process in them. :) But if you want to give ISNs a try go for it, don't worry about them all being perfect (because they won't one's are!) but my thought is if I can at least improve half of my notes then that's at least something. Next time around I'll work on the rest. You are also correct that not all of them are as involved, integer rules is one that has a lot of info to get down in there.

      As far as a routine, if you are consistent then it really doesn't take all that long. Kids are so good at picking up on things. Have you checked out the Interactive Notebook tab up at the top of my page? I tried to go into more detail about the routine and set up in some of those posts. Hope that helps :)

  4. Great ideas and help for starting a ISN. Do you do your teachers notebook before you get the students to do it or do you have yours already done before the school year starts?
    Thank you,

  5. I am a first year math teacher and I really want to do a real interactive notebook with my students. Do you know of resources out there for new teachers who want to create interactive notebooks other than a few teachers who have loaded their entire notebook online? Also, do you only use tape in your notebooks? I have had my kids glue with glue sticks and that is a headache because their pages start falling out.

  6. Good Morning,
    I teach 8th grade math and science. I would like to teach this lesson. Is there a download?


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