“What are integers?” I had this image up on the Smartboard and posed this question for my students. In most classes, the same dialogue took place… “They are numbers”… Yes, but more specific. “They are negative and positive” Yes, but more specific.

We finally came together and created a definition: “Integers are negative and positive whole numbers. No decimals or fractions.” Wah Lah! I was impressed with the knowledge many of the students already had about negative numbers. When we compared and ordered them, they understood that the higher the negative, the lower the value. Some even told me that negatives were their own “world” and it is completely opposite than the “positive” world. We did a bit of absolute value “acting” as well. -5 took steps to zero. 5 takes steps to zero. The class observed that they both took 5 steps! Distance is always positive. Absolute Value is the distance from 0. They got it quickly! (Of course, -5, 0, and 5 were actors from the class) 🙂

## About Gretchen Simmerson

Middle School math teacher living in Austin, Texas.