Monday, April 18, 2016

Task Cards: Five Engaging Ways to Use Them in the Classroom

Who loves task cards?  Let me tell you, I am seriously an addict!  I make them, buy them, wishlist them, dream about them....ok, this is getting crazy!  But seriously, I love them.  My students and I thoroughly enjoy using them in my classroom.  I am by no means a task card expert, but I use many of the same ways in my room on a regular basis and I wanted to share them with you tonight!

Scoot!  I stinkin' love it!  I love how it encourages fluency and continued practice over a given skill or skills.  I also love that it gets my kids up and moving.  Sure, I could pass out a worksheet with the same questions but it will NEVER be as effective at engaging students to focus and practice a particular skill.  Anytime I pull out task cards and begin to explain what we are going to do, my kids BEG for Scoot!  

Here's how Scoot works in my room:
1.  Pass out a task card to each student in your classroom.  I require my students to keep their card face down on their desk until I give them permission to flip it over.
2.  Provide a recording sheet to each student to work out and record their answers.
3.  Have students take a peak at their card to see what number they have.  Since there is only one number ONE, all students will be beginning the set of task cards at a different spot.  I have them peak at their number ahead of time to avoid them starting in the incorrect spot.  
4.  Set a timer for a specified amount of time.  The amount of time that I use always varies depending on the skill that we are working on.  I usually use the first round to help me determine the length of time that is appropriate for students to complete the problems.  
5.  Tell the students to GO!  Then, give them time to complete the problem.
6.  After the time is up, tell them to STOP!  I also instruct my students to flip their card over after they are done.  I like this because it keeps the student behind them from working ahead.
l7.  Have the students scoot to the next spot and repeat!
8.  After allowing all students to move throughout the room and they have returned to their original seats, I review the correct answers aloud.  I usually do this by starting at number one and "scooting" my way throughout the room.  The students check their answers as we go.  
9.  Allow students to ask questions if needed about incorrect answers.  
10.  Since many sets of task cards come with 24 or more cards per set, I am usually able to also take a grade on any remaining cards.  Since I have twenty students in my classroom, I usually have four left over task cards.  After allowing students to ask questions about missed problems and doing a quick mini-lesson on any common mistakes I noticed while the students worked their way through the room, I put the last four problems on the board for a grade!

I also love to print my task cards in black and white to allow students to practice them at home.  I am the queen of stuffing these into mailboxes during recess after seeing which students struggled during math groups.  They are typically the same students who need additional help and their parents are happy to chip in.  I always send home an answer key so that either the students or their parents can quickly and easily check for student accuracy.  I have received many compliments when doing this.  I think it is many parents realize that their student needs more support, but they don't always know how to provide it.  This is a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to solve that problem!


My teaching partner, Shelby at Education Lahne, created this fun freebie to help students knockout task cards in a self-paced way.  She created a template with nine circles.  As students travel through stations or sets of task cards, they earn stickers or stamps for each destination.  We used this for grammar review before statewide testing.  It was a great way to give our students choice while ensuring that they are accountable for their work.

This is a new game for me this year but I. am. in. LOVE....and so are my kids!  I lay pairs of cards around my classroom.  Students are paired in groups of two and tasked to solve all of the problems in the room quickly and accurately.  I "rank" my students according to our STAR Math or Reading scores and pair my highest and lowest students together.  Then the second highest with second lowest, and so on.  I love this method of peer tutoring and it really levels the playing field to allow all pairs a fair shot at winning the game.  

Here's how Solve It, Switch It works in my room:
1.  Place pairs of cards around my room.
2.  Provide a recording sheet to each student to work out and record their answers.
3.  Assign or allow students to choose a partner.
4.  Explain to students that when you say GO, they will solve ONE task card while their partner solves the other.  I usually complete the first round together as a class.  After they both complete their card, they SWITCH cards.  Once again, I usually do the first round together.  After they have solved the second card, they must CHECK their answers.  If their answers match, they can find another set of cards to work through.  If their answers do NOT match, they must rework the problem(s) together to find the error.  


5.  I also lay out an answer key on my back table.  When students are confident that they have correctly answered each question, they can go check their answers with the key.
6.  The team who answers the most correctly in the fastest time wins!  Since they are working in pairs, I can't remember a time when my students didn't make it to the answer key without the correct answers in place.  

My last way of using task cards is SERIOUSLY a treat for my kids....and me!  I hide a set of task cards throughout the room and it is their job to find and solve all of the task cards.  I leave many of them just lying around in very obvious places, however, I hide a few in tricky spots.  This adds a completive element as well as a little mystery that keeps things interesting!  It makes the dreaded task of division a little more bearable!  Just as the game Scoot gets my students up and moving, so does Solve the Room!  They are up, moving, and exercising their mathematical minds!

I have also tried something new recently, due to a fabulous idea from FlapJack Education!  These Stikki-Clips are amazing!!!  I leave them up around my room, and simply switch out sets of task cards depending on what we are working on.


8 comments:

  1. I love using your task cards! These are great ideas!

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  2. Love the clever ways you are using task cards. The switch idea is top notch!
    Sebrina
    Burke's Special Kids

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  3. Amanda you're so creative. I love all of these ideas. And, I especially love how your sign your name on those post it notes!

    <3 Melissa

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  4. I love the "Solve & Switch" idea! I am going to try it this week! Thanks for helping this "math challenged" gal!
    ~Jennifer
    Stories and Songs in Second

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  5. These are all great ideas! My kids love solve the room activities such as add the room and subtract the room. . I think copying the equation and writing the equal sign and the sum/difference is more meaningful than just writing the sum or difference on a worksheet page. They also love count the room, too. I think task cards are a wonderful way to add excitement to learning. Thanks for a great blog post. :-)

    Kamp Kindergarten

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  6. Very helpful post, Amanda! Thank you! I've got it pinned - would you mind if I link to this post when describing task cards?

    Peggy at Primary Flourish

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  7. GREAT ideas! Thank you for this post! :)

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  8. I love these ideas! Definitely will be using these this year!

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