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Unit 5: Rational Numbers

In grade 6, students learned that the rational numbers comprise positive and negative fractions. They plotted rational numbers on the number line and plotted pairs of rational numbers in the coordinate plane. In this unit, students extend the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from fractions to all rational numbers, written as decimals or in the form ab.
The unit begins by revisiting ideas familiar from grade 6: how signed numbers are used to represent quantities such as measurements of temperature and elevation, opposites (pairs of numbers on the number line that are the same distance from zero), and absolute value.
In the second section of the unit, students extend addition and subtraction from fractions to all rational numbers. They begin by considering how changes in temperature and elevation can be represented—first with tables and number line diagrams, then with addition and subtraction expressions and equations. Initially, physical contexts provide meanings for sums and differences that include negative numbers. Students work with numerical addition and subtraction expressions and equations, becoming more fluent in computing sums and differences of signed numbers. Using the meanings that they have developed for addition and subtraction of signed numbers, they write equivalent numerical addition and subtraction expressions, e.g., 8+3 and 8–3; and they write different equations that express the same relationship.
The third section of the unit focuses on multiplication and division. It begins with problems about position, direction, constant speed, and constant velocity in which students represent quantities with number line diagrams and tables of numerical expressions with signed numbers. This allows products of signed numbers to be interpreted in terms of position and direction, using the understanding that numbers that are additive inverses are located at the same distance but opposite sides of the starting point. These examples illustrate how multiplication of how multiplication of fractions extends to rational numbers. The third lesson of this section focuses on computing products of signed numbers and is optional. In the fourth lesson, students use the relationship between multiplication and division to understand how division extends to rational numbers. In the process of solving problems set in contexts (MP4), they write and solve multiplication and division equations.
In the fourth section of the unit, students work with expressions that use the four operations on rational numbers, making use of structure (MP7), e.g., to see without calculating that the product of two factors is positive because the values of the factors are both negative. They extend their use of the “next to” notation (which they used in expressions such as 5x and 6(3+2) in grade 6) to include negative numbers and products of numbers, e.g., writing 5x and (5)(10) rather than (5)⋅(x) and (5)⋅(10). They extend their use of the fraction bar to include variables as well as numbers, writing 8.5÷x as well as 8.5x. They solve problems that involve interpreting negative numbers in context, for instance, when a negative number represents a rate at which water is flowing (MP2).
In the fifth section of the unit, students begin working with linear equations in one variable that have rational number coefficients. The focus of this section is representing situations with equations (MP4) and what it means for a number to be a solution for an equation, rather than methods for solving equations. Such methods are the focus of a later unit.
The last section of the unit is a lesson in which students use rational numbers in the context of stockmarket situations, finding values of quantities such as the value of a portfolio or changes due to interest and depreciation (MP4).
Note. In these materials, an expression is built from numbers, variables, operation symbols (+, −, ⋅, ÷), parentheses, and exponents. (Exponents—in particular, negative exponents—are not a focus of this unit. Students work with integer exponents in grade 8 and noninteger exponents in high school.) An equation is a statement that two expressions are equal, thus always has an equal sign. Signed numbers include all rational numbers, written as decimals or in the form ab.