Mark McCount

Mark McCourt

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About this Event...


Date to be announced - Mark McCourt

Target Audience: Primary, Secondary and FE

How to use 'zero pairs' and concrete materials to enhance students understanding of negative numbers

The Field Axioms underpin the whole of number and algebra. Pupils having a firm grip of these axioms means they are able to cope with any arithmetical or algebraic problems. Each of the nine axioms is critical, but probably the first and most important one that pupils will meet is the additive inverse. Knowing that subtraction is simply addition, removes the problems that pupils have when working with subtraction tasks. But, since we need to introduce the additive inverse to pupils at an early stage in their mathematical development, it is important we use metaphors, models and examples that can be understood - pupils need to see the meaning behind the axiom.

A powerful approach to teaching the additive inverse is to use concrete materials, such as algebra tiles, to introduce the idea of ‘zero pairs’ (the first name pupils will have for the additive inverse). In this workshop, we will look at how to work with these materials, carefully and deliberately, resulting in all pupils being able to answer all arithmetic problems and able to work with sophisticated algebra tasks.

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