In the middle school setting I have had the privilege of teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. Over the years, I have noticed my students consistently struggling with integer operations, regardless of the age. When students are learning skills in their current math class, they continue to get frustrated with the mistakes they make using integers. My students sometimes express thoughts like, “I don’t get this” or “this doesn’t make sense,” when we are solving a problem in our algebra 1 class. The student did the steps correctly almost every time, but missed or incorrectly calculated a small integer operation piece of the problem. This leads to them being frustrated and thinking that they don’t understand a topic, when really it is something as small as subtracting a negative, multiplying by a negative number, etc.
Practicing integer operations during class stinks. It is tedious work and students do not typically enjoy it.
Our students need this practice. So what are we going to do?
Students are very motivated by games. Allow students to create a game to do this practice. They will create the game using code, and then play their own game or their friends’ games, promoting practice. In the program below students will create a race game, where the only way to advance forward is to answer an integer operation question correctly. Meanwhile, they are racing the computer to the finish line. Students hardly know they are practicing these skills when they are playing a game to practice, and even better, it is a game that THEY created.