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Modifying Elapsed Time Problems
Most students grasp elapsed time problems when they are easy such as: "What time did Billy finish ball practice if he started at 2:00 p.m., and it lasted for two hours." Teachers run into difficulty teaching students once they bring minutes into the problems, go from a.m. to p.m., or even cross into different time zones. However, when you are creating grade 3 mathematics activities for talented and gifted students on elapsed time, they will look forward to the challenges these more difficult problems can bring.
If you are modifying grade level elapsed time problems to make them more difficult for gifted students, then just be careful to make the problems realistic. For example, the above sample problem would not make any sense if you modified it as: "Billy practiced for 13 hours and 22 minutes. What time was it when he finished?" However, you could modify it like this. "Each day, Billy started practice at 2:00 p.m. On Monday he finished at 4:32 p.m. On Tuesday, he finished at 3:37 p.m. (and so on through the week). How much time did Billy practice this week?"
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Creating New Problems
Another way to challenge students when making activities is to create your own problems. Once your gifted students can do standard elapsed time problems easily, then you can challenge them by creating problems that cross time zones. Again, make them realistic and applicable to students' lives. Here are two examples:
Jordyn wanted to figure out how long her flight was from Chicago to Atlanta. She left Chicago at 11:55 a.m., and she arrived in Atlanta at 3:35 p.m. How long was her flight? (Hint: don't forget to see what time zones the cities are in.)
Bradley, who lives in New York City, wanted to call his Grandma in Los Angeles when she got home from work at 5:30 p.m. to wish her a happy birthday. It was 4:00 p.m. in New York City. How long did Bradley have to wait to call his grandma? What New York City time should he call her to reach her at home?
Another one of the popular math activities for elapsed time is to allow gifted students to create their own problems for fellow students to work out. Not only do students work out each other's problems, but they actually practice the skill when they are writing the problems, too.
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A Point to Remember
Gifted and talented students have preferred learning styles whether they are visual, tactile, or auditory. Students who are tactile and/or visual may need clocks and maps available for them to help solve these problems. This does not mean these students do not understand the elasped time concept -- it just means their strengths lie in different areas, and they solve difficult problems in their own way. Don't forget to consider learning styles when creating grade 3 mathematics activities for talented and gifted students on elapsed time.