"Switch the Sign": An Algebra Song
Lesson Objective: Sing about dividing and multiplying equations by negative numbers
Grades 7-8 / Math / Equations

Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Warburton make this song interactive?
  2. What effect does Ms. Warburton's silliness have on class dynamics?
  3. How will this song help students solve math problems?
This is a well intentioned imaginative effort to teach the rules of mathematics. Unfortunately teaching math by learning the rules eventually leads to producing students who cannot advance in math beyond algebra because they believe they should study math by learning the rules. The YouTube video by Art Dimock on the study of calculus makes this point very clearly. Nothing wrong with the song as long as the math teacher early on teaches the visual side of math understanding as well. It is the visual comprehension of mathematics that allows students to go on in math and physics.
Recommended (7)
I absolutely love this song-my students asked me to come up with a song for this (like I did for changing a fraction into a decimal.) What is the third verse?
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Silly songs always work!
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It has me thinking about how to use it next week!
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For those students that are not mathematical analytical this is a way to help reinforce concepts that will prove helpful to them while internalizing the "visual side of math" . I was disappointed to find that the download did not include the actual words to the song. I also wanted the third verse! :-)
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  • MathSong: Switch the Sign Program Transcript

    I put rhythm in math class

    These little tunes are silly


    I try

    MathSong: Switch the Sign Program Transcript

    I put rhythm in math class

    These little tunes are silly


    I try to make the really dull things in the classroom just sing songey, for fun for me and for the kids and they often sing along.


    Then after I’ve sung the silly song so they don’t get the problems wrong then later I can say if you divide both sides by a negative, and they say “switch the sign”

    Three different things that you can do to switch to sign. So usually I sing a whole verse with just one of them ….

    Silly, I know. But it’s fun.

    I’m not as self-conscious as I used to be. I realized that nothing bad happens to you when you sing.

    Students: Switch the sign!

    ² end of transcript

School Details

Longfellow Arts And Technology Middle School
1500 Derby Street
Berkeley CA 94703
Population: 510

Data Provided By:



Marlo Warburton
Math / 8 / Teacher



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture