Do you use task cards in your classroom? Honestly, I don’t remember hearing about them in my first years as a primary teacher, but that was back in the dinosaur era. However, during what I will call the COVID period, there have been a few teacher resources that have risen as their adaptability to be used both in the class, online and at home, has been tested and proven worthy.
Task cards are usually a set of cards that either reinforce a skill, standard or objective in the classroom. The task cards I have seen are 4×6 (inches) or 5×7 cards and contain 1 (maybe 2) tasks for the student to complete on them. Now index cards have been around for a while. Before I was a teacher, I worked in the financial sector. Index cards were the precursor to the post it note, but held more information. I still use index cards but the post-it notes are one of the favourite teacher tools!
When teachers started using task cards in the classroom, I didn’t because I felt they were too time consuming to create. It wasn’t until after I downloaded some free ones (thank Pinterest) and gave them to students, that I saw their value. It took no time to see that my little students loved them. The small cards fit into their little hands and off they went, completing the tasks!
How I Use Task Cards
Like most new practices in the class, I always start by making it an “all class” activity on the carpet. I will tell the class what it is and why we’re using it (to review a skill, etc). Then I will model the behaviour of using them, right from getting them and any other materials they will need, finding a space, and getting started right away. These are steps that they have already learned from Daily 5.
After I model, we’ll do a couple together as a group. The first one will be one students working on the same task card. I also give a time frame of about 2-3 minutes. They may not finish. What I’m doing is creating a habit so finishing is not the priority. We talk about what was easy and what was hard for them. Also, we discuss what they can do, if they get stuck (ask a friend). Then we do it again! This time I will either give 1 task card to 3-4 students or 1 card to each student. This will depend on how they respond to the initial step of trying it.
5 Ways You Can Use Them in the Classroom
- Math Centers – this is where I first started using them. During our Math Rotations, students will work on task cards either individually or with a partner. Be sure to have at least an extra set, as some tend to get damaged or disappear (what? yes – they get damaged – laminate!)
- Guided Reading Stations – Much, like Math Rotations, I will use task cards in a station/centre where students are working individually or with a partner. In these stations, students use task cards to review spelling words, sight words, or spelling rules.
- Small Groups – I’ve used task cards when students are working at my table during with “Time with Miss Harold”. Task cards can be used as a warm up or exit ticket.
- Most often, I need extra task cards for students who finish early or need a challenge. This can happen a lot during math. I do have students who are above grade level and I will need something to challenge them that is at their level.
- Games – a popular task card game is Scoot. I have never played this game, though it is on my “List” to try. The “game” plan is to try it with Math, Number Recognition, during the first part of the school year.
Remember, give your students time to really learn how to use task cards. I try to give my class, 5-10 times (tries at it) before it is running smoothly. If you are using task cards, I would love to hear about how you use them in the class.