In Algebra, the mistakes students make most often is basic math. A review of positive and negative integer rules is a good place to start. In class, we do a quick warm-up (usually over class expectations or how their first couple days are going), a graphic organizer or foldable, practice problems in class, and then they do a homework assignment to reinforce the skills.

The graphic organizer or foldable can be put in a binder or glued/taped into a composition notebook for easy reference later in the year. Click here for my graphic organizer or click here for a foldable. When kids ask me for help with integer math later, I ask them to pull out their graphic organizer or foldable. I usually copy them on pastel colored paper so that I can say “Remember that yellow graphic organizer? Where is that?” The graphic organizer serves as notes for the lesson. Here is the basic way I present it.

On the State EOC/FSA that we take in Florida, students are not allowed a calculator for the first half. Because of this, I do not let them use a calculator in class for the first half of the year. I keep the math simple so they don't need them (when we get to quadratics, that's when the calculators come out).

The practice problems in class can be done in a number of ways. You could copy a worksheet for them students and work through them in order. You could pick problems to do on the board as you see how the students are doing. Once you feel they are getting more right than wrong, you could move on to the next operation. You could have the students put the problems on small dry erase boards or have them compare answers with an assigned partner next to them.

The homework should be assigned and due the following day. Click here to see my practice problems and homework problems.

When adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers, I always try to bring money into the discussion. Negative numbers are when you owe someone money or are thinking about buying something. Positive numbers are money you already have or have earned. Even students who struggle with the concept of negative numbers can answer questions about money. It is amazing how our minds work that way.

I hope you have a positive day!