Interpreting negative numbers
Negative number word problems 256
Exercise Name: Interpreting negative numbers
Math Missions: 6th grade (U.S.) Math Mission, Arithmetic essentials Math Mission, Pre-algebra Math Mission, Mathematics I Math Mission
Types of Problems: 2

The Interpreting negative numbers exercise appears under the 6th grade (U.S.) Math Mission, Arithmetic essentials Math Mission, Pre-algebra Math Mission and Mathematics I Math Mission. This exercise provides practice with real life contexts of integers.

Types of Problems

There are two types of problems in this exercise:

  1. Write the answer as either positive or negative: This problem provides a word problem where the number can be interpreted as positive or negative. The user is expected to determine the correct interpretation and type it in the space provided.

    Write the answer as either positive or negative

  2. Interpret the balance correctly: This problem provides a situational word problem and a value for the problem. The user is asked to select the correct interpretation of that value in the context of the problem. The user will select from a multiple choice list.

    Interpret the balance correctly


A working model of negatives (for example a number line and viewing opposite as reflection over zero) can help with this problem.

  1. On the first problem type, the interpretation is almost always clear from the final sentence. Write the number and the sign that the sentence is implying.
  2. In the first twenty problems, the Interpret the balance correctly problem always asked for an interpretation of a zero balance. There is no reason this will stay, but at least at this time it means one needs to find the interpretation that implies "no change."

Real-life Applications

  1. Negative numbers are used for measuring temperatures.
  2. Negative numbers are used to describe values on a scale that goes below zero, such as the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales for temperature.

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