Tried it Tuesday - Elapsed Time Inquiry and Strategy

Ok, there is no stopping me now - three weeks in a row I am linking up with Holly, the Fourth Grade Flipper for her linky...

I want to share an elapsed time inquiry and strategy we worked on last week (okay, and into this week, you know how these math problems go!).

Last week I introduced the following situation (an idea that was shared during a math networking session):

I love sleeping in on the weekend, love, love love. During the week I have to wake up at 6:00 a.m. so when I can sleep in even a little bit I do! But next weekend I need to go to my niece's birthday party. It takes us 2hrs 45 minutes to drive there. I want to get there at 1:30, before the party starts to visit and help my sister set up. I need to shower, eat breakfast and pack the car on Saturday morning. Oh yeah, and I need to make the birthday cake - that is what I am in charge of - so I need to bake and ice a cake. What is the latest I can wake up, get everything done and arrive at 1:30.

Loads of questions followed. Will my bags be packed, why don't I make the cake Friday night (because I am too stinkin tired Friday night to do anything but stare at the t.v. and my own children!!).

They needed to come up with a strategy to figure out what time I should wake up, tell me how much time they alloted each activity and when I would arrive.

They went to work - with paper, whiteboards, clocks and combinations of all three. They still had a lot of questions. What did I want to have for breafast, how many people would be in the car and needed to put their stuff in, is it okay to be late, is it okay to be early, can I buy a cake instead.

They did a great job and I learned a lot by listening and watching while they worked and while they presented their solutions. I learned that we don't have a solid understanding of how long events take - making time estimations. Some students gave me 5 minutes to shower and 30 minutes to eat breakfast. When asked how long it takes them to shower they had no idea. We used our lunch period as a guide for how long breakfast should take during our discussion. Some students started at 1:30 and worked backward. Others gave a time amount to each activity, added it up and tried to work from there. Some picked a random time and tried to work forward (some mean group picked 7:00 a.m.!! hardly a sleep in at all!). Most had no idea how long it would take to bake and cool and ice a cake. Through our discussion we also agreed that it made sense to get up and make the cake and let it cool while doing other activities.

This week we consolidated our learning. We started an anchor chart. The strategy they all picked was using a clock to figure out elapsed time. Even those that wrote out a schedule used the clock to help them.

I introduced a new strategy - new to me, new to them (maybe not new to you). Using a t-chart.

I watched this video on the weekend (silly at the beginning, strategy starts at 1:25, first part is an intro)

Then we did a practice problem together and then they did one on their own using this strategy.

I have a few kiddos that were confused moving from 11 to 12 to 1 and a few that messed up on the minutes. But we will clear all of that up this week! We talked about the strategy, if they liked it, how it worked for them and they all gave it a thumbs up!! I liked that it was visual,  not to much writing, could be used for going forward or backward and I could clearly see their work (with a clock it is hard to tell where they went wrong...or right). I also like it because all of my students could use it - from my highest group to my students that need support.

This is a similar strategy from Scholastic - but they draw mountains for 1 hr, hills for 10 min and pebbles for 1 min. My students felt it was too much drawing and writing.

I also tried a Pin it to Win it - only I didn't pick winners - I sent it to the people who left a comment (before today). I don't have an email for Stephanie S or Erica, so if that is you leave a comment with your email here or send me a quick email. Thanks so much for pinning!


  1. This is perfect timing!! We are doing elapsed time next week! I love the t-chart strategy. I haven't seen it before either, but it makes perfect sense and I can totally see my kids understanding it! Thanks for sharing!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  2. I love how you used your real life example. I used a problem with Starbucks when we were learning about multi-step I went there with two friends, I offered to buy everyone's drinks (seeing as I am so generous) One drink was $4.25 two were $3.95 and I had a free drink on my card. I had $20, how much change did I get back? They ate it up and were exactly the same way with all the questions! Which friends? What do they look like? What did you get? etc. I have to remember to incorporate that more in my lessons. I LOVE the t-chart strategy - I used it last year when I taught 3rd and it helped a lot!

  3. Elapsed time seems to be tricky for my students each year. I love how you made the problem relevant to real life. Great ideas!

    Eclectic Educating

  4. it bad that I don't know how long it takes to bake and ice a cake? STOP LAUGHING! I would've been in the group that asked if it was okay to just buy a cake instead. This is great. I want to be in your long as there isn't a basement in there. XO
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  5. I'm with Alison on the cake question-I just buy a Carvel ice cream cake! Mmmmm! I have always used a t-chart to teach elapsed time, we don't teach it in 4th grade anymore-I think EVERY grade should teach time! Your real life example is perfect and relevant!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. I love that you used a real life example! I might need to do some more review of time with my 4th/5th graders.

    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack

  7. I used the T chart last year for the first time. I thought it helped a lot. Some kids can't just count on hours so it help them to see that.

  8. I LOVE this!! What a wonderful real life example and it is so true that students often have NO clue how long it takes them to do activities. What a fun way to teach elapsed time. Our new modules don't teach time and the students need to know it! Thanks for linking up, friend! xxoo


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