Teacher Notes for Task Cards
What are task cards?
Task cards are sets of cards with individual tasks or questions written on them - the kinds of problems that are typically seen on student worksheets. Like worksheets, they are primarily intended for practice, reinforcement and review. Here are two examples:
Advantages of task cards
- The single problem focus and the relatively small amount of text make task cards more accessible than worksheets for some students.
- The format allows students to experience a sense of achievement for each individual task that they complete and encourages them to work at their own pace and do only as many tasks as they can.
- Individual student answer recording sheets allow a single set of task cards (the questions) to be used over and over again by many students, saving paper and printer ink and making it more practical to include colorful graphics.
- The cards can be used in a wide variety of ways - as individual, small group or whole class activities, including active fun games like "Scoot!" (see below).
- It's easy to create or add your own task cards to customize a set for your class - you can write tasks on index cards and some task card sets have extra blank cards for your use (don't forget to change the Answer Key if you replace or add cards):
Making the example sets of task cards
- Print the cards and laminate them or use cardstock. You need only one copy of these, so print in color, if you can, to make them more appealing and motivating.
- IMPORTANT: There are 4 cards per standard sheet of paper and the long side of each card is parallel to the long side of the paper,
so the cards should print out "sideways":
Print only page 1, check it, and if this isn't the case, make sure that the printer is set for "Landscape" or horizontal printing.
If the pictures are missing, check that the printer is set for printing Background images.
- Cut each 4-card sheet along the gray line to remove excess, fold the remainder in quarters, and cut the 4 cards using the folds as cutting guides.
- Print the Answer Key, preferably in color, and laminate or use cardstock.
- Store the cards and Answer Key in a ziplock bag or punch a hole in the corner and use a loose leaf binder ring to keep the set together.
- Print copies of the black and white student answer recording sheet as needed.
Suggestions for useUse task cards:
- in literacy centers
- for early finishers
- for test prep - pairs or small groups can take turns drawing cards and checking each other's answers.
- as homework - print a few 4-card sheets in black and white/grayscale and an answer recording sheet to be taken home
- as an individual activity to assess student progress and achievement level
- to add a skill practice dimension to any board game - before taking a turn students must draw a task card and answer correctly or lose the turn
- in whole-class games like "Scoot!" (descriptions follow).
- Place a task card, a recording sheet and a pencil in front of each student. Distribute the cards in order and tell students to watch as you pass out the cards since they will later be moving from card to card following the same path.
- Have students locate the number on the task card in front of them, find the matching number on the recording sheet, and write an answer there. Do a quick check to make sure that a student with card 8, for example, hasn't written an answer in space 1 at the top of the recording sheet.
- Explain that each time you say "Scoot!", the students will all get up, take their recording sheets and pencils, and move to the next number task card. The student at the highest number task card moves to Task Card 1. They should work quietly so that they can hear you say "Scoot!"
- At their new places, they should once again find the task card number on their recording sheets and write an answer there.
- The game ends when students find that the card in front of them is the one they started with, which they've already answered. Students can self-check their answers using the Answer Key or you can collect the sheets for assessment.
Pass Variation (the task cards move rather than the students): When you say "Pass!" instead of "Scoot!" students stay seated with their recording sheets and pass the task card to the next student until the card they receive is the one they started with.
- Form two or more equal-sized small-group teams and have them sit together. Form two or more sets of cards, each with the same number of cards as the team size.
- Give a card set, a single recording sheet and a pencil to the first student.
- When you say "Go!" the student takes the top card in the set, fills in an answer next to the matching number on the recording sheet, keeps the card, and then passes the remaining cards, the pencil and the recording sheet to the next team member.
- The game ends when each team member has a card and has written an answer on the recording sheet.
- Teams can exchange recording sheets to check them against the Answer Key. The winner is the team with the highest number of correct verbs. Ties are won by the team who finished first.
Task Card Scavenger Hunt
- Place task cards in locations all around the classroom. Set a time limit.
- Give each student or pair of students an answer recording sheet and pencil. Students are to search for all the cards on the sheet.
- When a card is found, students note its number, find the matching number on the recording sheet, and write an answer there.
- When all the cards have been found and the answer recording sheet is completely filled (or the time limit expires), students bring the recording sheets back, the time is written on them, and they are checked against the Answer Key.
- Wrong answers mean that the card isn't counted as being found.
- The winner is the student or pair with the highest number of cards found. Ties are won by the student or pair with the earliest finish time.
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