Five Great Ways to Use Task Cards
In my last post, I gave you some strategies for dusting off all those Google Slides you made/borrowed/bought during distance learning. Now that you are back in the classroom, they still have a place! But of course, being back in person means we have the opportunity to use Task Cards again, so this post will feature my favorite ways to use them.
Why use Task Cards?
Anytime you are planning to use a work sheet, ask yourself if you could use Task Cards instead. Task Cards give students the opportunity to move around the classroom, to collaborate, to spend time with a concept or breeze through more quickly. A worksheet is more static and less dynamic. So, if you can use Task Cards, you will most likely increase student engagement, and we all know that minds on means more learning!
I use Task Cards:
- To give students extra practice with a skill.
- To give students choice.
- To review before a test.
- To get kids using target vocabulary and communicating about Big Ideas!
- Anytime I want students to be engaged and on task!
So, here are some of the ways I like to use Task Cards in my classroom!
This is a simple way to use Task Cards and get kids moving. This strategy works great for math problems or vocabulary words. It’s perfect for these Wander Words Task Cards.
To use this strategy, simply tape the Task Cards around the room, and even out the door and down the hall. Space them a few feet apart. Then, give kids their Recording Sheet and set them loose. This strategy works great for collaboration. I often pair students up with two Recording Sheets and ask them to agree on the answers.
One thing that is great about this strategy is that the kids can go in any order, so there is no congestion. Another thing I love about this strategy is that there is built-in differentiation. I organize the Task Cards strategically, and then I start the students strategically. For example, I might put the Task Cards in order from simplest to most difficult. Then, I start students who are struggling with the first Task Card and more confident learners with the Task Cards in the middle. As students rotate, they are appropriately challenged.
A Scavenger Hunt can be a fun way to keep kids engaged. If the Task Cards don’t include a Scavenger Hunt, it is easy to add one. Simply find a riddle (check out a book in the library or the internet for TONS of riddles) and then put one letter of the answer on each Task Card. As students solve the problem, the answers to the questions spell out the answer to the riddle.
What’s great about this strategy is how fun it is – I love it when kids laugh in the classroom! Students do not need to solve the Task Cards in order, and it can be helpful to have them start at different places in the Scavenger Hunt so that they are not bottlenecked at one Task Card. This strategy works great with a partner, and it is self-checking! If students have the answer to the riddle, they have the correct solutions to the problems!
These Task Cards have a Scavenger Hunt all ready to use! You can get them as a printable, use them in EASEL, or grab the Google Slides version! Click to grab them on TPT.
This is another fun way to get the kids to use the Task Cards. Students feel like this is a game, and the Task Cards do the moving, which is fun for the kids. You will need to make several copies of the cards – enough so that each student will have one card. I really like Scoot as a test review the day before.
- Students sit in a large circle with their Recording Sheet on a clipboard. You could also have them sit in table groups.
- They begin with one card and solve the problem.
- Set a timer for two minutes. At the end of the timer, the task card SCOOTS to the right, and students get two minutes to respond to a new challenge.
- This is a quick strategy, and sometimes students don’t finish in time, which can be frustrating for some students. Adjust the timer appropriately for your students and the task on the card.
- Students do not need to finish every card, so you can strategically arrange the cards to differentiate for your students.
- It is helpful to go over the correct answers so that students get immediate feedback.
These Task Cards give you a double whammy – learning important content and practicing prefixes at the same time! They work great for Scoot, or for your favorite Task Card strategy.
This is another great strategy for reviewing before the test. For this strategy, students work in pairs to solve problems. You will need enough copies of the Task Cards for each pair of students.
- Pair students, putting together one confident student and one that is still struggling to master the content. One student will be the coach and the other will be the “athlete”. The athlete has the pencil and the coach has the Task Card. The coach reads the Task Card to the athlete. The athlete has to solve the problem. The coach checks for accuracy, encourages the athlete and gives suggestions, but not the answer.
- Then, the athlete brings the problem to the teacher to check. If they have the right answer, the teacher gives them a new Task Card, and they become the coach for the other student. If they don’t have the right answer, the teacher asks them to to try again.
- Student keep switching back and forth until they’ve solved the problems and reviewed for the test.
These Task Cards also have a Scavenger Hunt, but they work great for a Relay! Students work together to solve word problems and tasks related to volume.
Small Group – Intervention and Extension
Task Cards work great when you are working with a small group. I used these Task Cards at the beginning of the year to review 4th grade place value concepts for my fifth graders. The 40 Task Cards provided plenty of variety and challenge for the different levels of my students.
If you have a good set of Task Cards with a good variety, you can easily use them for Small Groups. I sort the Task Cards in advance by challenge level. Then, I group my students according to their level. With some groups I use mostly the easier Task Cards, and with other groups I use the more difficult problems. A good set of Task Cards can easily give me a week’s worth of Small Group lesson plans!
These are my favorite ways to use Task Cards in my classroom. I hope you give one of these ideas a try and find that it helps engage your students and leads to learning!