Integer Mind Maps

Our Mind Map Project

This fall I took an independent study class. The class was full of things, but one portion was an app that required you to create a mind map. I really haven’t done that before, and part of the course required that you create one that could be used in your classroom. I created one for our current unit of study at the time: Integers.

Upon looking at it, I realized it could be a really nice way to keep everything straight. We discovered the rules for integers by using integer chips. I felt pretty good about the exploration piece of this. I pre-taught the kids in Math Lab so they’d have more time with the chips, and then we worked through the rules in our groups in class. Each day we’d add to the mind map. Occasionally, I posted a new picture of our classroom board mind map on Google Classroom.

I was most excited to see the kids using the map to solve problems in class, and then equally excited to see them stop using it when they became comfortable with the rules.

We had a culminating unit project where the students were asked to create their own mind map. The criteria included: that it be visually interesting, show examples and list the rules, and be at least the size of 4 pieces of paper taped together. I was impressed with so many of the projects.

This post will show all of our classroom projects! Click into the pictures to get a full-sized version that you can scroll through.

An invention

One of my students created a project that I am looking forward to using as a model for the future. I won’t explain it just now, but look for more (and I’ll link back to this post) in the future. I think it is a pretty neat twist on the mind-map and will be a really great classroom tool when I put it to work!

And the class …

The class required an app that you need to be 13 to use, and we don’t have Chromebooks for everyone in our class so I went with paper mind maps. Here is my post about the mind map. I thought it was fun to make and really helped frame integers in a way that they haven’t been framed in the past when I’ve taught them. The TCSD Foundation gave a grant for 10 teachers to take this class, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity!

Learning Integers

Have you ever learned something where the first few days of the material are so easy that you listen with half an ear, or maybe don’t even need to listen at all? This is how the topic of integers is for many kids. The integer chips are helpful to many, insulting to some and just plain frustrating to others. However, learning without them is extremely challenging for the hands on learner. I find every year that students really understand addition and are just WAITING to GO ON to something more challenging. Then, we discover the rules for multiplication and division and suddenly it is challenging to keep addition straight. Once we hit subtraction everything falls apart if you were listening with half an ear at the beginning.

This year was better than last year and when I teach this again next year I hope to further hone the intro portion to somehow make it really clear that the early listening is important. For the athletic readers among you, I’ll refer to my swim class. I was SO eager to actually SWIM when I started the class that I didn’t give proper attention to the drills at the beginning (at least that’s what I think looking backward, I didn’t think so at the time). My eagerness to “get to the point” kept me from having as strong a foundation as I could have had.

I’m hoping that my student’s mind map concept that I plan to use as a model for future teaching will help the eager to get to the point students as well as reinforce for the student who needs more support.

And at long last: The gallery of projects

*Click on the image for a full sized view of the project. You can scroll though them all at full-size.


Are you a 6th or 7th grade math teacher? Do you have techniques or projects that have worked well for you and your students? I’d love to hear about them!