Hang onto Negatives in Math Problems

This is Day 3 of 31 Days of Math Learning Success. Follow all the days here and check out others that are writing for 31 days here.

You may be an optimist. You may always see the positive side of things. But in math, you gotta hang on to your negatives.“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
~ Michael Jordan

You may be an optimist.

You may always see the positive side of things.

But in math, you gotta hang onto your negatives.

They’re small, but powerful!

As any math teacher would say, “If you’re okay with losing your negatives, why don’t you loan me $20?”

Because that “loan” turns into a “borrow” if you are in the habit of losing negatives.

But they’re so small that they can get lost in the shuffle. Especially if you’re writing in pencil, writing small or writing sloppily.

But how…!?

Yes, that’s the big question. How can you train yourself to hold onto the negatives?

First, go slow.

The fastest way to lose a negative is to, er… do the problem too fast.

Negatives are small and the changes they make to your problem don’t stand out like other errors.

If write 85 and then in the next line it becomes a 7, well that’s pretty obvious.

But if you have 29 – 85 and the next line is 29 + 85, they still look an awful lot alike.

So go slow and pay close attention each step of the way.

Look to the negatives first.

When you get a wrong answer, and you already know you’ve copied the problem right, check for lost negatives.

Don’t think that you don’t know what’s going on. Comb the problem carefully and find those slippery negatives.

I’m positive this will help!

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