Monday, December 9, 2013

Success with Elapsed Time: Part 1

By Cassandra Hatfield, RME Assessment Coordinator

One of the challenges many teachers face is how to teach students to calculate elapsed time. In fact, "on the 2003 NAEP assessment, only 26 percent of fourth graders and 55 percent of eighth graders could solve a problem involving the conversion of one measure of time to another" (Blume et al., 2007).

This blog will focus on a strategy for computing the elapsed time, given a start and end time. The second blog of this series will focus on the three types of elapsed time solving story problems and how to support students in understanding the structure of those problems.

Using a procedure similar to the standard algorithm to calculate elapsed time can be challenging for students because time is in a base 60 system and depending on the times given, students have to calculate considering the change from AM and PM.

An open number line is an great tool that supports students in calculating elapsed time mentally. Before making the transition to the open number line, in a whole class setting have students count around the class by benchmarks of time and record the times on an anchor chart.
When students understand the benchmarks of time it supports them in being flexible in which strategy they use. Some students will gravitate towards one strategy while other students will select the strategy that is most efficient for the times given.
Calculating by benchmarks of time
Calculating to benchmarks of time
Some students will find it difficult to combine the minutes and hours when calculating to benchmarks of time. It is also important to focus your classroom discussions on how to combine benchmarks of time. An anchor chart to support this can also is beneficial for your students. Students will come up with many different ways. Here are just a few.

We would love to get some feedback on transitioning to a number line for calculating elapsed time. Let us know how it goes!

Blume, G., Gilindo, E., & Walcott, C. (2007). Performance in measurement and geometry from the viewpoint of Principles and Standards of School Mathematics. In P. Kloosterman & F.Lester, Jr. (Eds.), Results and interpretations of the 2003 mathematics assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 95-138. Reston, VA: NCTM.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insight to ‘Teaching Math to Young Children’

By Sharri Zachary, RME Mathematics Research Coordinator

The National Research Council (NRC) and the National Council for Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM) describe two fundamental areas of mathematics for young children: 1) Number and Operations, and 2) Geometry and Measurement. According to the NRC (2009), conceptual development within number and operations should focus on students’ development of the list of counting numbers and the use of counting numbers to describe total objects in a given set. It is recommended that teachers provide students with opportunities to “subitize small collections [of objects], practice counting, compare the magnitude [size] of collections, and use numerals to quantify collections” (Frye et al., 2013). Conceptual development in geometry and measurement should support the idea that geometric shapes have different parts that can be described and include activities that model composition and decomposition of geometric shapes.
The Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) released a practice guide recently on Teaching Math to Young Children. The recommendations put forth in the IES practice guide are:

  1. Teach number and operations using a developmental progression
  2. Teach geometry, patterns, measurement, and data analysis using a developmental learning progression
  3. Use progress monitoring to ensure that math instruction builds on what each child knows
  4. Teach children to view and describe their world mathematically
  5. Dedicate time each day to teaching math, and integrate math instruction throughout the school day
These recommendations are intended to:

  • Guide teacher preparation that will result in later math success for students
  • Provide descriptions of early content areas to be integrated into classroom instructional practices
  • Assist in the development of curriculum for students in early grades
To access/download the full IES practice guide, please visit

Frye, D., Baroody, A. J., Burchinal, M., Carver, S. M., Jordan, N. C., & McDowell, J. (2013). Teaching math to young children: A practice guide (NCEE 2014-4005). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Educa-tion. Retrieved from the NCEE website:

National Research Council. (2009). Mathematics learning in early childhood: Paths toward excellence and equity. Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press