Some schools in Detroit are installing more analog clocks — rather than digital clocks — to help teach students to tell time the old-fashioned way.

Such concepts, educators say, are important to help students learn to understand time and also develop math skills. “In first grade, we have connected number lines to the numbers around an analog clock,” said first-grade teacher Amy Palmer. “Skip counting by 5s around the outside of the clock. They also help students with fractions” by counting half- and quarter-hours. 

Canton’s Workman Elementary has only analog clocks; it has roughly 45 in its classrooms, the gym, library and lunchroom, their second hands ticking away as children scurry to class or the office.

Detroit Public Schools uses a mix of analog and digital clocks, although analog clocks are recommended, said spokeswoman Jennifer Mrozowski. And Birmingham Public Schools is using more analog clocks, said spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson.

Even though children may be able to read the time on a digital clock, it “doesn’t mean they understand the concept of time or the increments of time — hours, half-hours, minutes and seconds,” said Jim Burt, principal of Workman, which opened in 2006.

“That’s the only way kids can learn to tell time,” Burt said. “Reading a clock with numbers is easy for anyone, but just because you can do that doesn’t mean you know all that is important about time and what time it actually is.”

Some teachers even go so far as to cover up the digital clocks in their classrooms to encourage the use of analog timepieces.

Amy Palmer is a first-grade teacher at Birmingham’s Beverly Elementary, which has a mix of analog and digital clocks. Her students begin working on telling and writing time in first grade, a requirement under Michigan’s Common Core State Standards.

Telling time is important to understanding other big concepts in math, Palmer said.

“In first grade, we have connected number lines to the numbers around an analog clock,” Palmer said.

“Skip counting by 5s around the outside of the clock.They also help students with fractions” by using a clock face to demonstrate half- and quarter-hours.

Technology is omnipresent in today’s schools. Chalkboards in many places have been replaced by digital SMART Boards that can project websites and be used to create interactive lesson plans. Students can use their smartphones to take quizzes that give teachers instant results. And iPads are the new classroom computers.

But at Workman Elementary, at Cherry Hill and Denton in the southwest corner of Canton, such new technologies share classroom space with old-fashioned round-faced clocks.

Burt isn’t sure what went into the decision-making when the school was planned, but said analog clocks are cheaper than digital clocks.

Continue Reading:  The Detroit News