Grade 6
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Tips and Tricks

Operations with Negative Numbers

  • Like many ideas in mathematics that are abstract or symbolic, it often helps students to have a visual model to help them conceptualize the idea. A number line is a great choice for this topic.
  • Students should investigate whether the properties for addition of whole numbers hold for the addition of negative numbers.
  • Make use of ideas students already know, such as multiplication being repeated addition. This can help them realize that 3 times (negative3) = negative9, since negative3 + (negative3) + (negative3) = negative9
  • Connect the fact that multiplication is commutative to help you justify negative3 times 4 = negative12, since they already know that 4 times (negative3) = negative12.
  • Give students a positive or negative number and ask them to give you two numbers whose sum, difference, product, or quotient is the given number. For example, given the number negative8, it could be the product of negative4 and 2.
  • Don't let students say things like, "Two negatives gives a positive." They need to state, "The product of two negative numbers is positive." Otherwise, they may misuse the above when doing addition of two negative numbers.
         Adding and Subtracting
       with Negative Numbers
       Multiplying and Dividing
       with Negative Numbers

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