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• ### Adrianne Burns

Member
October 2, 2020 at 8:42 am

As a middle school teacher this sounds very familiar to me. I had a teacher once try to tell me that he thought the algebra tiles were too abstract for the students to understand. The problem is that many teachers only have an abstract understanding of rules and procedures and they too get confused when they try to understand a math concept more deeply and with a conceptual context. It’s not easy being new on a team but you need to try to push back on that thinking. That is the why districts push to have teachers collaborate. It has the potential to move everyone forward as teachers discuss their different approaches. Here are some resources that I hope will help you.

Here is a blog post that I wrote specifically about subtracting integers using integer tiles and some of the road blocks I ran into and what I tried. It speaks specifically to the issues with rules and rule following teachers trying to teach conceptually.

https://burnsmath.blogspot.com/2016/11/concrete-models-are-they-actually.html

Here is a Desmos Hot Air Balloon activity. The hot air balloon is a great context for connecting integer operations to the number line. I can show you how to extend the context to multiplication if you’d like.

https://teacher.desmos.com/activitybuilder/custom/5efe58da277abd3653440339

And this is actually my latest favorite context for working with integers (I’m an interventionist and it is by far the most intuitive for students that I have found). Army Men

http://mrpiccmath.weebly.com/blog/my-battle-with-the-integers

Here is a presentation I used with students. The army men are great because they combine the integer tile idea and can be used to think about the number line. You put the men in cars and BAM multiplication.