Saturday, December 3, 2016

Snapshot: 6C Subtracting Integers

Negative number - Positive Number
The students in 6C are grappling with how to subtract integers. This is a challenging lesson for sixth graders because it requires a depth of understanding of what it means to subtract and how negative numbers can impact that concept. 

Class was divided into groups to work on understanding a specific subset of integer subtraction problems. They were given manipulative ands and two different tools to help them work through what is happening in each subset of problems. They were asked to summarize their work on a poster and then required to "teach" the rest of the class how to think about their type of problem. Everyone had to be versed in their type of problem and able to communicate their understanding of the material. 

I like this activity because it requires the students to make sense of something they have not been taught formally. They have to struggle to put together information they already know and apply it in a new way. I like to challenge their thinking and make sure they are able to see when conclusions they make are logical and when they make sense only because they want it to make sense. I enjoy hearing students work to explain their thinking to their peers. Listening to students find ways to make sense of the material in different ways because the way they are explaining it is not making sense to their classmate. I love it when students challenge each other's thinking in respectful ways. All of the dialogue and communication is priceless. More learning happened in one period than most of a normal week!

This is just the beginning of their journey with subtracting integers. They walk away from these presentations with a sense of accomplishment. The next step is to see if they can apply what they have learned when the problems are not so nicely grouped together and isolated. What happens when they encounter the problems in the "wild" or mixed up with other problems? That is the first real test of their understand. 

Positive number - Positive number

Negative number - Negative Number

Positive number - Negative number

Special Cases