This week we had to pivot to online learning. There are a few topics I have figured out that are really good for online learning. One of those topics is telling time. The curriculum expectations for time are:

Grade 2 is in yellow and grade 3 is in blue.

I think this is a good topic for at-home learning because there are some very active things we can do instead of staring at the computer all day. It’s also easy to find meaningful worksheets that those who are not meeting with us online can finish at home with their parents.

Telling time, however, is a topic that I often wonder about. Is it really useful to today’s children? When I asked them to tell me the time, every kid could do it. They looked at their computer screen and that was that. The digital clock is right there.

The grade 2 expectations make a lot of sense to me. Kids do need to develop a sense of the time it takes to do something. I had them talk about some things that might take an hour, or a minute, or a second, or longer to complete. We timed ourselves to see how long it would take to touch the front door, the back door. We talked about relative time when I asked them to touch a bedroom pillow. That wasn’t long for some who are working in their bedrooms but it was longer for those working at the kitchen table.

The grade 2 expectations are a little more challenging. Digital clocks are no problem at all, although some aren’t quite sure how to say the time when they see it. 9:00 is “nine o’clock” but some want to call it “nine zero zero”. It’s easy to clarify that for them. 9:15 could be nine fifteen, or quarter after nine, or fifteen after nine. Again, it doesn’t take long to get everyone to start saying this the right way, and we will have many practical opportunities to practice at home and at school. The analog clock is quite a bit more challenging, but after a few days all those who are working online with me are doing okay.

It does have me wondering if being able to read an analog clock is a skill that will become obsolete in the not-to distant future. I wear a watch, but it is digital and it’s really there tracking my movement through the day. If I need to know the time I always have my phone with me. Will there every come a time when analog clocks disappear?


Time after time

This week we had some fun with the clocks.  I had mini clocks for every child to use.  We worked on time to the hour, time to the half hour, and then time in general.  One of the things I am really enjoying about following the curriculum spiralling document is that I know we’ll be back to this again later, so I’m happy about what happened this week even though not everyone can tell time.  We’re good with time to the hour, and mostly to the half hour.  We’ll need a lot more practice with all the in-between times though.

On Monday one friend reported that he won’t ever need to learn to tell time on a regular clock because he’ll just look at a phone.  My own son, who is in grade 2, has discovered he can say “Hey Google, what time is it?” and have his question answered.  But analog clocks are everywhere and we really do need to know how to read them.  Not to mention all the “other” math that connects to clocks!

We did a bit of work on elapsed time.  I told them about my morning and had them move the clock along.  I got up at 6:00 – they showed me 6:00 – and it took me 15 minutes to get dressed – they showed me 6:15.  On and on we went as I made lunch for the family, tidied up the kitchen, and finally pulled into the school driveway at 8:00 (30 minutes before school begins!)  The real test came when I started saying to everyone, “I can’t see the clock.  What time is it?”  and “Mr. so & so will be here at 12:20…how long until you go to gym?”  I really can’t see the clock from where I sit by the chart stand and now I shouldn’t need to get up to check it.  And even my most reluctant friend realized it might be to his advantage to learn to answer his own “how long until…” questions on his own.

We have been talking about the larger “time” picture all year long.  We have the whole calendar displayed on a bulletin board and we’ve been talking about how time is passing all year.  We count how many days until things happen – birthdays, breaks, days off, holidays, Friday.   But this was our first week of talking about the hours and minutes in our day.  They have had this before.  This isn’t new.  Reading the clock should be something that many of them have done before.  But now they’ll have the skills to do it all the time.