K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will learn to add positive and negative numbers using a football game.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 Days


  • number line
  • drawing of a football field
  • scoring in a football game: 6 points for a touchdown and 3 points for a field goal


Students need basic math skills in addition and subtraction of integers. The teacher will do a group instruction illustrating a football field and sample problems particularly concerning the 50 yard line.


The Carolina Panthers are playing the Dallas Cowboys on a crisp October Sunday. Find out who won the game and the total yardage by calculating each play of the game.

  1. The Cowboys kick off and the Panthers return the ball to the 20-yard line. The tight end catches a pass, which gives the Panthers a 1st and 10 at the 35-yard line. How many yards did the play cover?
  2. On an option play to the left side the halfback was hit with a loss of 5 yards. On what yard line are the Panthers?
  3. Breaking through the line, the fullback lumbers to the 20-yard line of the Cowboys. How many yards did he gain?
  4. The Panther’s tailback was tackled on the five-yard line. How many yards were gained?
  5. A quarterback sack put the Panthers on the Cowboys 15-yard line. How many yards did the Panthers lose?
  6. Three plays later, the Panthers score a touchdown. How many total yards were gained from the first play of the game and what is the score?
  7. The extra point was missed and the Cowboys start at their 30-yard line. A loss of 13 yards puts the Cowboys at what yard line?
  8. A long pass to the tight end puts the Cowboys at the Panther 15-yard line. How many yards were covered on the play?
  9. After three plays, the Cowboys kick a field goal and the half ends with the score as what?
  10. The second half begins with the Cowboys receiving and running back to the Panther 37-yard line. From the Cowboy endzone, how many yards did the player run?
  11. After a sack of 3 yards, the quarterback passes to the 20-yard line. Where is the ball placed?
  12. The cowboys run an option play right and score a touchdown and extra point. What is the score in the 3rd quarter?
  13. The Panthers run the first play of the 4th quarter from their 12-yard line to the 47-yard line of the Cowboys. How many yards were gained?
  14. The Cowboys recover a fumble at the Panthers’ 40-yard line. How many yards did the ball move from the line of scrimmage?
  15. In the next three plays the Cowboys gain 2 yards, lose 12 yards, and gain 5 yards. What yard line are the Cowboys on?
  16. The Cowboys throw a pass to the 8-yard line. How many yards did the pass cover?
  17. With 1 minute left in the fourth quarter, the Panthers pick up a fumble on their 2-yard line and score a touchdown that runs out the clock. How many yards was the touchdown run and what was the final score?


Teacher will check the assignment with the entire class by calling on students to give the answer to each question. Five more problems will be assigned and checked by the teacher to ensure individual mastery.

Supplemental information

Teachers may want to obtain knowledge of NFL football to hook student discussion and interest in the lesson.


My students are all male who are incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System. Football is a high interest subject which may grab their attention.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • The Number System
          • 7.NS.1Apply and extend previous understandings of addition and subtraction to add and subtract rational numbers; represent addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram. Describe situations in which opposite quantities combine to...
          • 7.NS.3Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving the four operations with rational numbers.1

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 7

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will understand and compute with rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of rational numbers.
      • Analyze computational strategies.
      • Describe the effect of operations on size.
      • Estimate the results of computations.
      • Judge the reasonableness of solutions.

Grade 9–12 — Introductory Mathematics

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will understand and compute with real numbers.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop number sense for the real numbers.
      • Define and use irrational numbers.
      • Compare and order.
      • Use estimates of irrational numbers in appropriate situations.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies and using mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil.