Primary Measurement Unit – Concept: Time


The Primary Division teachers (grades one through three) were given release time through the school day (two half days) in order to meet as a Professional Learning Community (PLC).  The initial task was to use current teacher observational information, report card marks from the previous school year, and EQAO* data from June, 2011.  Detailed EQAO data indicated that the Measurement strand was the lowest with 70% of the students achieving at, or above, the Ontario Provincial Expectations.)  This was confirmed through teacher information shared at the PLC.


Upon further examination the concept of time was the area of greatest challenge for students.  Time is an abstract and arbitrary creation that follows algorhythms created by human interpretation of astrological events. (Day and night are divided into units of twenty-four, which are further divided into units of sixty, which are also then divided into smaller units of sixty, and so on.)  The challenge was to help students to understand time concepts so they could more accurately describe time – particularly using analog clocks.


It was decided by teachers and school administration to use blended research in order to diagnose, address explicitly, and track student understanding of the concept of time.  It was further decided that would be used to provide a baseline diagnostic for telling time to the hour in grade one, telling time to the half hour in grade two, and telling time up to five minutes in grade three.  This would include the use of analog clocks.  Students were to be on Mathletics at school for a minimum of 60 minutes per five day cycle during this research period.  As well, teachers incorporated the teaching and discussion of time concepts into their classroom routines.  Anchor charts, exemplars and morning routines (using SmartBoards) were used routinely to reinforce the concept of time.  Temporary access to a lab of iPads also provided some additional practice.


As shown in the chart below, students in each grade demonstrated a significant increase in their ability to use and tell time, based on summative data from Mathletics.  Mathletics proved to be an engaging and informative tool for the students that provided useful data for educators.

Grade Diagnostic Summative % Increase
Grade 1 – Hour Time 52% 92% 40%
Grade 2 – Half Hour Time 40% 76% 36%
Grade 3 – What is the Time? 80% 91% 11%







* EQAO data is a province-wide assessment done at the end of primary and junior divisions in Ontario elementary schools. It is an objective indicator of student performance in Reading, Writing and Mathematics that provides information to schools that can be used to enhance student achievement.


David MacLennan

Principal, Sprucedale Public School

Shakespeare, Ontario