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3 Reasons Your Students May Be Stumped with Quarters of an Hour

Students often struggle with labeling the hands correctly on a clock with quarters of an hour.  This is for several reasons:

1.  Students hear quarter and immediately think 25 cents, so they label the minute hand on the 5 to represent 25 minutes.  To redirect students from this misconception remind them that quarter means four parts.  Quarts of a gallon means four quarts equal one gallon.  A quarter of a dollar means 25 cents because 4 twenty-fives equal 100 cents or a dollar.

2.  Students may understand that a quarter is fifteen minutes, but they hear literally, “Show me a quarter after 5.”  Students will literally find the  5 on the clock and find fifteen minutes after the five.  Then they will put the minute hand on the 8.  To correct students explain that it is fifteen minutes after the minute hand hits the new hour or the twelve.

3.  Students sometimes are confused with the language a quarter after, a quarter past, a quarter to, a quarter til, a quarter until, a quarter before.  To help students with the language, create a chart that shows after and past mean the same things with an arrow showing counter clockwise.  Likewise, chart a poster that shows that to, til, until, and before mean the same things with a hand pointing counter clockwise.

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