A Twist on Task Cards!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I am a HUGE fan of task cards! I use them in my classroom for everything - reading, math, beginning of the year routines, enrichment, remediation - you name it! In order to keep this classroom staple interesting, I like to switch up the ways in which we use them. Below are some of the ways I put a "twist" on task cards to keep them interesting and engaging for my students.

1. Get Moving!

Instead of using task cards as seat work, I post them around the room. My students love the opportunity to get up and get moving. They travel with an answer sheet and record their work along the way.

Not only is this fun, but the novelty and movement provided are brain-friendly teaching tools that promote successful comprehension. I've also found that this movement leads to positive collaboration among my kiddos. They are eager to share strategies and ask questions sparking terrific discussion and learning.

Are you wondering about the pom pom balls on her head? I'll explain later in the post - promise! :-)

2. Make Your Own
 Once my students have demonstrated mastery solving the cards, I often ask them to create their own. Below you'll see one of my students writing a word problem for multiplying and dividing fractions. In order to write and solve her own task card, she needed to thoroughly clarify the content and analyze the language of word problems. This helped her to understand the content in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Once student cards are created, we use them in centers, as anchor activities, and/or enrichment. My students love solving the problems their friends create – almost as much as they like watching their friends tackle the card they designed! This twist has been so successful in my room that I've started including blank task cards in all of my new resources to facilitate this process. You can see an example of that here.

3. Use task cards in Journals and Interactive Notebooks
I like to print out the cards in black and white or gray-scale to save ink. Students glue the task card into their journal or interactive notebook and solve on the paper below. This is a great way to create a "yearbook" of student learning.

4. Make it a Game
Like I promised, here's the description of the pom pom headband! My 5th graders invented this super fun idea! Using a sentence strip, each student made a hat/headband to wear. (And yes, my "too-cool-for-school" 5th graders actually wore them - in my classroom AND the main hallway where some of the task cards were posted!! LOVE IT.)

Each time they completed a task card correctly, they earned a pom pom ball, which they affixed to their "hat." This game was low prep and low budget, but my students loved it! They were highly motivated by this learning activity because it was a game they invented.

The pom-pom hats then spun off into other games, like scavenger hunts, I Spy, and task card "snowball fights." One of the best parts for me was that my students LOVED choosing and preparing for the game. I almost felt guilty at times that they were organizing our classroom activities! (almost :-)

Those are some of my favorite task card alternatives. What are some of the ways you use task cards with your students? I'm always looking for new ideas and I'd love to hear from you!

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