11.16.2013

Teaching with Task Cards

If you could find the perfect teaching tool, what would it be like? Versatile? Ready to use? Engaging? Skill-based? Inexpensive? Sounds amazing, right? Sounds like something every teacher dreams of. Well believe it or not, this wonderful teaching tool actually exists... task cards!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Fishyrobb/Category/Task-Cards

Task cards are my absolute favorite resource for many reasons:
  • Versatility - Task cards can be used in a lot of ways... small group centers, independent practice, whole group games of Scoot, quick assessment, test prep. The list is endless! When I need to find out who gets a concept, I pass out a stack of task cards (one to each student) and have them write their answer on a sticky note. Everyone gets a different question, so there's no copying and I can quickly see who understands and who needs more help. Task cards are also a staple in my independent reading and math centers. Students are able to work at their own pace and then check their own answers. They really love it!
  • Ready To Use - Task cards require no prep at all. Once they're printed, I put them in a labeled envelope along with recording sheets, the answer key, and pens for checking. Whenever I need an activity, I just go to my task card drawer and pull out an envelope. It's ready to go!
  • Engaging - My students love using task cards. There's something about a little card they can hold in their hands and work on just one task at a time. I find the kids to be more focused and engaged than they are with worksheets or other activities. They actually LIKE using them!
  • Skill-Based - I love the fact that task cards target a specific skill. If a student has difficulty with main idea, I can send home a pack of main idea task cards for extra practice. Sometimes parents have a hard time helping their child, but task cards are easy to understand and use. They also work great during guided reading or math groups. This past week I had a group of students who weren't getting multi-step word problems. I have a set of task cards just for that concept (You can see them here.), so I pulled them out to use with the group. We worked through the first few together and then I gave each student their own. I was able to watch exactly what they did to solve the problem and see where they went wrong. So easy!
  • Inexpensive - For the most part, task cards don't cost very much which is really important when you live on a teacher's salary. There's nothing I hate more than spending $25 plus on a resource only to find that I can't use half of it or the kids don't like it. Task cards generally cost around $3 which is a bargain for any teacher.
One way to use task cards that I mentioned is for playing Scoot. If you don't know how it works, keep reading. Scoot is a way to get your students moving around while practicing important skills. It's so much better than seat work! First, you need a pack of task cards. Ideally, each card will be numbered. If not, you'll need to number them yourself. Place the task cards all around the room. Some teachers put one on each desk. I like to spread them all over... on tables, hanging on the board, taped to the door, etc. Give each student a recording sheet and a pencil. Now you're ready to go. Here's how to play...
  • Have each student stand at a different task card. This is their starting point. They will work through all of the cards in number order until they end up back where they started.
  • Put on some music (This just makes it more fun).
  • When you say "go", the students read their card, complete the task, and record their answer in the box with the SAME number as the card. It's really important to tell them this, repeatedly. You wouldn't believe the number of kids who take absolutely no notice of the numbers. Well yes, you probably would.
  • After a minute or so (depending on the tasks), you call out "Scoot" and students move to the next card. Make sure to give enough time that all or most of your kids can complete the card.
  • Keep going until everyone has gotten to every card. When you're done, you can go over each card while they check their own answers. Or, use them as an assessment.
  • One important rule - no talking during Scoot. You must enforce this. Otherwise, it gets really noisy really fast. The kids need to be able to concentrate on each task. I find that playing music helps them to not talk. If a student insists on talking, he or she has to sit out. That's my mean teacher rule, but it works. 
If you haven't used task cards before and decide to give them a try, I'd love to hear how it goes. Come back and let me know!

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