Integer Word Problems: Real World Questions {Mid-Week Math Motivation}

Hello friends!  Thanks for stopping by for a little Mid-Week Math Motivation.  Today I want to share a math lab that I worked on with my students when we were studying integers.  This is a great way to really assess your student's understanding, plus it keeps them up and moving.  You can really listen to their math conversations, and they get to socialize in groups too!
I spend the first few days of my Integers unit working with students on recoginzing integer phrases and graphing them on a number line.  I set up a number line in my classroom from -10 to +10 and then use phrase cards.  My students each get a phrase card and they have to find where their number would be represented on the number line.  We also practice opposite integers and my students get to pick a partner to be their opposite on the number line.  They have to explain the phrase, and their partner has to explain why they are the opposite.  I am specifically looking for understanding that they are equal distances from zero, not that one is a positive and the other a negative number.  I use the task cards and number line from this bundled set for the activity.  We also use foldables for vocabulary, and I come back to the set again for cooridnate grid.

The next day I split my students into groups, and the real fun begins.  I try to keep my students in groups of 4-5.  This way everyone is involved in the writing process, and no one can completely take over the group.  Everyone needs to contribute.  The task for this integer unit was to create a real-world problem involving  two integer phrases.  Students have to graph the integer on a number line and then compare the integers.  

I give my students about 20 minutes to create the problem and put the information down on chart paper.  I use chart paper that is gridded.  If you teach math and don't have gridded chart paper, run, don't walk to order some.  It is perfect for graphing inequalities, integers, creating number lines, coordinate grid, geometry.. you name it.  And it sure beats just using a plain old ruler and trying to keep the number line straight!!  

Here is an example of a problem my sixth graders created:

Next we complete a gallery walk of the problems.  I use a sheet with five number lines.  So if I have more than 5 groups of problems, the students are spread out and still get practice.  Yes, it is ok for students to not do ALL the problems!  With at least five you can still listen to them think, monitor their math comprehension, and complete a formative assessment for the benchmark.  I give students about 3-4 minutes at each poster.  On their recording sheets they have to draw the number line using the scale provided, graph each integer and make a comparison of them.  

This activity is a perfect example of a math lab that gets students up and moving and keeps them on task.  Worried about time?  Draw the number lines on the graph paper ahead of time or have students create the problems one day in class, and then complete the gallery walk as a lesson warm-up the following day.

I follow up throughout the week with warm up multiple choice questions from THIS packet.  They are quick and easy and involve rational numbers too.  We put them in our interactive notebooks and I have students color the questions they want me to formatively assess.
Have a great week!  If you need a way to spark conversations about math in your classroom, feel free to download this FREE card.  I have my students glue it into their interactive notebooks and use it as a reference tool throughout the year.

I would love to know the activities you use to keep integers REAL in math!  

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