There seems to be no shortage of task cards out there as a resource for students and teachers. The question is how to incorporate these tools as meaningful and engaging work in your classroom. I have compiled a list of ideas how I have used task cards in the last year or how I have seen other teachers use them.
10 Ways to Use Task Cards
This is a no-brainer. Print, cut, laminate, and put task cards on a ring. Store them somewhere in your classroom for early finishers. I suggest front loading this task before the school year starts by utilizing parent and student volunteers.
Another tip: If you want task cards available for the first month of school, then use the previous grade level standards to determine what skills they should have.
2. Speed dating
Speed dating is great for partner work time and forces students who do not typically participate whole group to discuss their work. Split your class in half. Ideally, students are facing each other. Students sitting across from each other complete a task card together. When the time is up, you say, “Switch.” One half of the class will need to move right, the other half will stay seated, and the task cards will need to move left. This will ensure that each person will have a unique problem to work on with a unique partner.
Noelle plays this a bit differently. Every student becomes an “expert” at a problem on a task card. Students swap problems with a partner and then check each other’s work.
Scoot can be played two ways: Either the task card can scoot, or the student can scoot. You need one task card for each student. Set a timer and periodically say, “scoot!” When that happens, either students will move seats to the next card or the card can be passed to the next student. I like this because it gives students exposure to many problems and prevents students from getting stuck on one problem for an extended period of time.
Incorporate task cards into your station rotations by utilizing a few cards at various stations or including one station with only task cards. One station could have task cards with what you are currently learning and another station could have task cards from previous units. If you always have some on hand, you always have a station ready to go!
5. When your material runs short
When you are surprised that the material you prepared only gets you through 80% of your class period, don’t panic! Have a set of task cards as back-up material. No copies necessary. Just project a task card from your document camera, and students can work it out on white boards, scratch paper, or in their interactive notebook. Make this a competition (boys v. girls always works in 6th grade) for some extra excitement.
6. Warm Up + Bell Ringers
Here is an additional way to save on making copies: Project a task card as students enter the classroom, and have students complete the warm up in an interactive notebook. Praise students who get started on the warm up before class even starts.
7. Four corners for Multiple choice task cards
When you get closer to state testing time, practicing answering multiple choice questions is an important testing strategy. State testing practice can feel monotonous, so getting students out of their seats to answer questions and defend their answers is a must. Project a card, give students time to work it out independently or in pairs, and then assign a corner of the room: A, B, C, or D. When you prompt them, students move to the corner of the room with the answer they got. For additional practice, you could also ask questions like, “Which answer choice can we eliminate before even working out the problem?” and have students move to the corresponding corners and discuss.
8. Tic tac toe
Tic tac toe can be used with any problem, task card, or worksheet. Make two teams (X’s and O’s), draw four or five tic tac toe grids on the whiteboard, and as students complete problems, hand them a dry erase marker to play tic tac toe for their team. Detailed directions can be found here.
9. Connect 4
Similar to tic tac toe, divide your classroom into two teams. Purchase a Connect 4 game or project this online version. As teams complete problems (with thorough strategies and units), you can hand a student a game piece or give them permission to play one piece online. This will encourage complete and accurate work because playing a turn only happens when everyone on each team has done the work properly. #positivepeerpressure
10. Spiraled review
If you have the time, printing task cards on card stock, laminating them, and organizing them will make reviewing at the end of the year a breeze. You will have sets from different units ready to be reused for state testing or for finals. No student will notice if you repeat cards from October in April, and you will not have to make up additional problems.
This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I know that many of our readers use task cards in a variety of ways. How do you use task cards with your students?