[Numeracy 182] Re: The double negative language-math link

Share: Share on LinkedIn! Print page! More options

Archived Content Disclaimer

This page contains archived content from a LINCS email discussion list that closed in 2012. This content is not updated as part of LINCS’ ongoing website maintenance, and hyperlinks may be broken.

Carol King cking at lyon.k12.nv.us
Tue Feb 16 13:03:38 EST 2010

I love this story! I agree that we always back up with the rational explanation and examples, but students sometimes need a story to hook their understanding on.


From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf Of Linda Shilling-Burhans
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 8:03 AM
To: The Math and Numeracy Discussion List
Subject: [Numeracy 178] Re: The double negative language-math link

Claire, this is what I'm talking about in teaching math to language arts types. You should be highly congratulated for being so creative.



Linda Shilling-Burhans

Community Coordinator

Central Vermont Adult Basic Education

Bradford Learning Center


-------Original Message-------

From: Claire Ludovico and/or TJ DeLuca <mailto:tjdclaire at cox.net>

Date: 2/12/2010 6:44:26 AM

To: numeracy at nifl.gov

Subject: [Numeracy 154] Re: The double negative language-math link

There is always above and below sea level...
I use bank accounts as the most likely exposure of my students to negative numbers...and the minus a negative example is when one finds a charge (funds subtracted) that has been (incorrectly) imposed by the bank that is then removed (taken away) from your balance...or in other words, they returned your money to you.

I once had to introduce integers to a group in a very limited amount of time. I made up a story about the positive tribe and the negative tribe...both very warlike but only with the other tribe, never with each other. Positives, of course, carry two spears, negatives only one. They have very strict rules of warfare: only one positive may fight a negative ...no ganging up...and when they fight (so sad) both die. They can hang out with their own kind, of course, no problem. (Addition)

Subtraction: They are also both very greedy...so in their wanderings in the woods, if they should spy a new spear laying on the ground (the minus sign) the positives, who have a spear in each hand, must throw away their two spears in order to pick up the new spear (and thus become negative) and the negatives, who carry only the one spear, can reach down and pick up the new spear...and become positive. Then those former negatives can hang out with positives (and vice versa) but can no longer face their former kind without "war" breaking out.

Miraculously, the two tribes can marry (multiply) and the product of their union depends on their signs (multiple marriages allowed (perhaps each parent "gifts" the same number of spears as he/she carries)...count the negative signs: odd number, the "children" are negative, even number (two spears again) the "children" are positive.) Divorce (division) is quite possible and the rules are the same as for multiplication.

I don't know if my students always get why I tell the story (but then they don't always get the rational explanation.) As I said, I usually back up the problems with bank account analogies. But the spear story helps sometimes if you have a negative (or minus sign) outside parentheses and you can talk about shooting the spear through the parentheses and changing the sign of everything inside.
Also, my students were looking at the problem yesterday: (-6) - (-1) = ?
I was able to say," If you have six negative guys and you take away one of them, how many are left?" They got it.

On 2/11/2010 8:17 PM, Denney, Brooke wrote:


I disagree with your statement that, “negatives carry meaning in mathematical, but not physical (reality) terms”; after all, it is winter in the Midwest and negative values mean something in my reality when we are talking about wind chill factors and really cold temperatures (perhaps living in a really warm climate you may have forgotten). Also, negative numbers are used when discussing the grade of the road (i.e., positive or negative grade). Does anyone else have examples of negative numbers used in reality?


National Institute for Literacy
Math & Numeracy discussion list
Numeracy at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/numeracy
Email delivered to tjdclaire at cox.net


This e-mail and any attachments are intended only for use by the addressee(s) named herein and may contain legally privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail and any attachments is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify me and permanently delete the original and all copies and printouts of this e-mail and any attachments.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lincs.ed.gov/pipermail/numeracy/attachments/20100216/57f281e6/attachment.html
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/gif
Size: 31851 bytes
Desc: image002.gif
Url : http://lincs.ed.gov/pipermail/numeracy/attachments/20100216/57f281e6/attachment.gif
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 5030 bytes
Desc: image001.jpg
Url : http://lincs.ed.gov/pipermail/numeracy/attachments/20100216/57f281e6/attachment.jpe