# Teaching Integer Multiplication {FREE Graphing Calculator Activity}

Helping kids make sense of integer operations can be such a challenge. As a classroom teacher, I struggled to find ways to help my students remember. I didn’t want them to simply memorize rules, formulas or tricks. I wanted to them to really understand. So I looked for ways to do just that. This integer multiplication activity will help your students discover important properties, and observe patterns with the help of their graphing calculator.

*Please Note: This post contains affiliate links which help support the work of this site. Read our full disclosure here.*

## Math+Technology Series {Graphing Calculator Explorations}

Today is the start of a brand new series here at MathGeekMama.com. I will be talking about incorporating technology into math class in a meaningful way (specifically, using graphing calculators).

Feel free to adapt these lessons to your own classroom needs, or sign up to receive the complete series by email (including the printable lessons and a bonus lesson).

According to the National Council of Teacher’s of Mathematics’ Principles and Standards,

“Technology is essential to the teaching and learning of mathematics; it influences the mathematics that is taught and enhances students’ learning.”

Although I knew this to be true, and desired to find meaningful ways to incorporate technology into my own math classroom, I struggled to make it a reality. I had no idea where to start, and truthfully, I didn’t really want to learn. I’m a paper and pencil kind of girl!

But in our increasingly technological world, I have to agree: technology is essential.

## The Benefits of Technology in Math Class

I hope that by the end of this series you will see that simply using a calculator for computations is not the kind of experience we’re after when it comes to incorporating technology into our instruction.

That does not deepen students’ understanding, enhance their learning, or challenge and stretch their thinking.

Rather, I hope you will see that technology (specifically, in this series, graphing calculators) allows students to get beyond algorithmic barriers and focus on concepts.

By allowing a calculator to do the heavy lifting, students are free to focus on decision making, reflection, and problem solving.

They can investigate difficult problems without getting bogged down with computation.

They can discover patterns and make meaningful connections.

And most importantly, they can focus on the meaning of the results rather than the getting of the results.

## Exploring Integer Multiplication

So today, we will start with a simple exploration to help students observe patterns and learn about multiplying integers. Sure, you could simply tell them the rule, and have them write it in their notes, but why not let them discover for themselves with this simple exercise?

In the exploration, students use their calculator to fill in the tables with multiplication of positive and negative numbers.

Based on the results of their table, students will clearly see that multiplying a positive times a negative number or a negative times a positive number will result in a negative solution.

## Integer Operations Lesson Extensions

You could extend this lesson to discuss why this is the case. See if they can draw a picture, or explain mathematically why their findings are true.

Then ask students their hypothesis for dividing integer values. Then let them explore that with their calculator as well!

Again, this is a very simple investigation, and will not take a lot of time, but will hopefully serve to deepen students’ understanding of integer operations and help them to retain what they learn.

It may even spark more questions from students who will then use their calculator to discover the answer.

### {Click HERE to go to my shop and grab the FREE integer multiplication lesson!}

Looking for another fun and engaging way to work with integers? Try playing the game Absolute Zero! This game is a great introduction to adding and subtracting integers, and there are tons of fun variations as well.