3rd Grade Math : Unit #6 - Time : Lesson #1

It's Time We Begin

Objective: SWBAT explain their own ideas about why telling time and understanding elapsed time is important.
Standards: 3.MD.A.1 MP2 MP4 MP5 MP6 MP7
Subject(s): Math
60 minutes
1 Opener - 20 minutes

Students need to reason abstractly and quantitatively in order to understand both telling time and elapsed time (MP2).  They need to read the intervals on the clock and internalize and apply the idea that time within an hour is generally thought of in 1 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, 15 minute, and 30 minute quantities.  They need to fluently add on in these amounts from any given starting point.  In the instance of time, precision (MP6) refers to students taking the time and effort to be clear on either the actual time or the starting/ending point with elapsed time, because if that key element is misrepresented, everything else falls apart.

I ask students to jot down 3 occasions when it's important to be able to tell time or to understand what time it is.  

Then students fill out the Student Self Assessment Telling Time, which takes them about 10 minutes. I state today's objective.  Self-assessments are an important and powerful way in which to develop students' metacognitive skills.  They will be better learners (we all are) when they are more aware of what they don't yet know and how their areas of strength influence their progress.

Today we are going to review telling time to the hour, and elapsed time to the hour.

A solid understand of telling time to the hour is a prerequisite for the 3rd grade standard of telling time to the minute. A review of telling time to the hour, and rounding to the closest hour, also helps solidify the critical ability to apply the understanding that 60 minutes equal one hour.


This is a longer opener than usual, but the value of having students think about why they are studying time makes the rest of the lessons in this unit richer because they will be connecting to the content in a more individualized way. 

Connecting to the Real World
High Quality Task

Students tend to see telling time as a classroom activity and often do not translate this skill to their everyday experiences.  A child who can fill out a clock page on telling time perfectly will often still ask, “What time is it?” when they look at the classroom clock. 

A child who demonstrates that 12:15 p.m. - 12:50 p.m. is an elapsed time of 35 minutes frequently does not know how long our specialist period or reading block are, even though those times are set.  Time spent in engaging students in telling time activities that relate very directly and explicitly to their experiences as 8 & 9 year olds is essential to real-world transfer of this abstract skill.

2 Pre-Assessment - 20 minutes

Next, I give a very simple pre-assessment. This assessment is not for a "grade" because it's a tool for my instructional objectives. A pre-assessment provides information about individual needs as well as possible areas in which the whole group may benefit from either additional reteaching or acceleration.  Keep in mind that an ability to tell time doesn't necessarily translate to an understanding of time!  

You might have noticed that this pre-assessment is in color. I do not have access to a color photocopier at my school, but if I did I would reproduce this in color for certain students because that would provide a bit of extra support in distinguishing the difference between the numbers that represent the hours and the numbers that represent the minutes.  I do display it on the projector after they are finished, and that's what leads me to conclude the color is helpful.

I collect this pre-assessment after 20 minutes, even if students aren’t done.  If it takes a student more than 20 minutes, I know they can benefit from the review/reteaching. 

I will share the results of the pre-assessment with the children.  Also, at the end of the unit I staple assessments and other work they've done in this unit together, so they have clear visual evidence to help them think about their thinking (metacognition) over the course of the unit. 

Teacher, can I heat up my lunch yet? (Are they applying what they know?)
Checks for Understanding

Some of the best formative assessments are organic.  This child can tell time on paper, and can compute elapsed time on paper, but doesn’t yet transfer the skill to practical, real-world use unless she is prompted to do so.  This is one way I know that I need to continue to give them real world scenarios related to time.  Evidence demonstrates that their ability to work through telling time and elapsed time problems in a math lesson is not a guarantee that they will apply this understanding to what they perceive as a non-math lesson scenario.  Eventually, they will realize that math and life are inseparable…

Student: clutching Kraft Macaroni & Cheese bowl, “Ms. Valentine, can I heat up my lunch now?”

Teacher: “Well, what time is it?”

Student: squinting at clock, It’s almost 11 o’clock.”

Teacher:What time is it now, to the minute?”

Student: peers at clock again, concentrates, and twirls macaroni & cheese container, 10:05.” 

Teacher:  raises eyebrows, and then raises a finger to her lips as The Wanderer starts to answer.

Student: “10:50.  10:55…”  She searches the teacher’s face but teacher is now doing a statue impression.

Student: Sighs.  15 second pause. “10:58. it’s 10:58.”

Teacher: “Yes, it’s 10:58.”

The Wanderer:  “That’s what I was going to say.”

Teacher: Points in the direction of The Wanderer’s Desk.  Wanderer skips off to the edge of stage left.

Student:  “So, can I heat up my lunch?”

Wanderer:  Clearly still listening, looks at teacher, nods his head knowingly. 

Teacher: “How long does it take you to heat up your lunch?”

Wanderer: Smiles and crosses his arms.

Student: “3 minutes”

Teacher:  “So, if we leave for lunch at 11:20, when do you need to heat up your lunch?”

Student: “Not yet.” Turns to walk away.

Teacher:  Motions for student to return to the table“Correct, you don’t need to heat it up yet.  Specifically, when should you heat it up?”

Student:  Shrugs shoulders.

Teacher: Raises eyebrows again.  Smiles.

Student:  Smile, followed by prolonged sigh & a 25 second pause.  11:17. I need to heat up my lunch at 11:17.”

3 Discussion about Time - 16 minutes

I place children into small groups for the discussion part of this lesson. Instead of having them write out their responses to the questions, I monitor the groups to encourage them to use question stems in their answers and to add on to the answers of their peers.  I also model how they can ask a question about their classmates' answer that will elicit more information.

Teacher modeling example: 

Question:  (Silently) think of a time that you were waiting for someone to arrive and it took longer than you expected.

Student response:  I had to wait a long time for my dad to come home the other day.

Student listener question:  Why did it take your dad a long time to come home?

Student response:  It took my dad a long time to come home because he had to give his friend a ride home after work, but we didn't know that.

Questions for Student Discussions:

1.  Think of a time that you had to wait in a long line at a store.  Where were you, who were you with, and about how long do you think you had to wait?

2. About how long does it take you to get to school each morning?

3. Do you eat dinner at the same time every day?  If yes, when.  If no, why does the time change and what would be a typical time?

4. When you go out to eat, do you ever have to wait to get a table?  What do  you do while you are waiting?  If you have never had to wait, imagine what you would do if you had to wait.  How long do you think most families would be willing to wait to get a table at their favorite restaurant?

5.  How long do you think it takes our class to line up for lunch?  What could be done to make it a faster process?  What kinds of things slow the class down?

6.  How long is your school lunch?  If you don't know, guess!  Does that feel like enough time?  Why or why not?

7.  When do you usually go to bed?  When do you usually wake up?  About how many hours of sleep do you get each night?  Do you think that is enough?  Why or why not?

8.  Does the adult in your  house wake up at the same time as you, earlier, or later?  Do you think they wish they could sleep longer?

4 Wrap-up/ Homework - 4 minutes

I ask the students to think (silently) about why they took a pre-assessment today.  Then I ask them, "How will your answers on the pre-assessment influence/change the way I teach you about time?"  They share with a partner.

For homework, I give them an activity log  and ask them to record what they are doing each hour.  As you can see, I filled out the hours we were together at school for them so they and their parents have a model of what I expect.

I always keep in mind the reality that some students will be unable to get help with their homework and provide a variety of supports.  It can be difficult for families to provide transportation for their students so I try to offer as much extra support as possible within the regular school day.  They are allowed to come in before school and during lunch.  For those students who are able to stay after school, I provide extra help when needed.  Another option to consider would be encouraging students to go to the local library or Boys & Girls Club.