Task cards allow my students to be independent learners and I can use them in a variety of ways in the classroom. At the basic level task cards are a set of cards that have tasks or questions written on them. They are one of the many teaching tools that I find very effective when it comes to reinforcement and assessment.
They are also an effective alternative for student worksheets that may seem to be boring at times. It’s not advisable to use them when introducing a topic, because they are meant to be done during practice and review.
Task cards can be implemented in many ways. I use them individually, in pairs, with small groups, or as an activity for the whole class. It really depends on the topic I am discussing and the knowledge and skills of the students regarding that particular unit.
My teaching partner has created a years worth of middle school science task cards. This is an amazing resource that we use often in our classes.
Here are some creative ideas you can try with your task cards. Students have enjoyed using task cards in my class.
- Individually, task cards can serve as reinforcement for students who need more time achieving the specific skill needed for a topic. They are better alternatives to worksheets in my opinion. While using task cards, students are asked to answer as many or few as they can. I can then use them as a formative assessment to gauge student knowledge.
- Task cards can also be done at home. I sometimes give them as homework so that my students can practice the skill even when they are outside my classroom.
- Preparing challenging task cards are also good for students who are very fast in picking up the lessons. They can be set aside for students who have completed their other work and used as an enrichment.
- Task cards allow students to move around the room which is always a plus in my book. Set high expectations for what the movement looks like.
- Task cards can also be used in small groups. You can divide your students and present one task card at a time. Have them write their answers on the whiteboard for comparison before discussing the next one.
- You can also use task cards in game-like activities like “Scoot”. Students will be given different cards to answer for a certain period of time, perhaps 2 to 3 minutes will do (depending on the questions or tasks and grade level of the students). Students will then answer it on their own. It can be written in their notebooks, papers, or in a task cards journal. When the allotted time is up, the teacher will say “Scoot!” All students must move and answer another card that awaits them. (Another version of this is to let the students pass on the task cards to his or her seatmate once the time to answer is up.)
- Another game we play is called “Back to Back Game”. In this game, a pair of students will be given the same task card to answer. They will either sit or stand with their backs against each other. The teacher will read the task aloud so the whole class will have the chance to hear it. The students will then answer it, either by personal whiteboards or hand signal and turn to each other to find out if they have same answers. Discussion will follow after that.
- Use them for small group interventions. I often have students stay after school for tutorials and we break out the task cards so that I can really hone in on what they are struggling with. They give me a good point of reference to where the gaps are.
- You can also integrate these cards in board games (free board printables here). Unanswered or incorrect answers would mean a miss turn. Students must answer his or her task card first before taking turns. Better yet, let the students make up the rules.
- Another game which would make students move is “Around the Room Game”. Task cards will be placed all over the room hidden and the students must try to look for them. Once they found one, they will answer it. You can give extra points for students who can answer correctly.
- Another game, which is very engaging and quick to do is what we call “Order up”. The mechanics of this game is to rearrange the cards and paste them consecutively on another sheet. Each card will have two parts – answers and questions. Two cards will have the “Start” and “Finish” clues, which obviously will go on the first and last spot. The “Start” clue has a question and you will have to find its answer to be glued next to its spot. This also contains another question for you to answer. You will repeat the directions until you come up with the “Finish” card.
- If you want to have a paperless version of this task card activity, you can use the computer.tablet, text polls, or personal whiteboards.
- Task Cards are also best for reinforcing Cooperative Learning Activities/ Strategies. You could give your students sets of task cards to answer with their group. In doing so they develop unity and camaraderie.
- Interactive Notebooks can also be used when working with task cards. You can create words and tell the students to group them accordingly, inserting each card in specific slots.
- You can also use the task cards to record the progress of your students. We often use them as an assessment or a quiz grade.
Do you have any ways that you use task cards? I would love to hear about them in the comments.