Integer addition and subtraction can be a real sticking point for concrete thinkers. This integer operations graphic organizer helps students work through problems by guiding them through a series of questions. It is geared towards students who don't need as much help as my integer operations manipulative offers but who are still making mistakes.
How to use the graphic organizer:
Change any subtraction problem to addition (skip if already addition).
Now look at the integers' signs. Both positive? One negative, one positive? If so, which is "heavier"? (ie farther from zero).
Follow the column that matches the integers you have.
For a problem like... 5 - 14
Change to addition.
5 + -14
The "heavier" number is negative because -14 is father from zero than 5 is. So we follow the 3rd column.
"subtract"* (find 14 - 5) and keep the -
5 + -14 = -9
*Since we're actually subtracting the absolute values of the numbers, I added a footnote to the graphic organizer. I will also ask my students, "how much farther from zero is 14 than 5?" when completing this last step.
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