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Have you been hearing about task cards lately but are wondering what are task cards? Maybe you know what they are but are looking for new ideas for how to use task cards in the classroom. You’re in the right place!
So What Are Task Cards?
Task cards are essentially a more engaging, broken-up worksheet. Each task card has one task, or one question. Unlike worksheets, they are much more flexible in the ways to use task cards. Usually, each task card is smaller – think index card size – and has more white space.
Task cards can be used in just about any subject area and any grade level. How they are designed and used does, however, need to be considered and altered to ensure students are able to use them independently. This is key.
Why You Should Use Task Cards
So if a task card is basically just a mini worksheet, why use them?
- Task cards are more engaging and keep students interested.
- They are more interactive – incorporate movement, group work, or a challenge!
- Task cards are amazing for chunking work as for students needing accommodations – more white space and less overwhelming.
- Task cards can be easily differentiated – just have different students complete different cards!
How to Use Task Cards in the Classroom
Task cards are an effective way to engage students by practising skills and concepts in fun and creative ways. Using task cards in the classroom is easy and can really increase student motivation. I know I’m not the only one hearing groans when I hand out a worksheet, right?
You can find a number of ways to use task cards for all subject areas below but really, the only limit is your imagination! I’d love to hear how YOU use task cards in different ways – just comment below.
Ways to Use Task Cards in Elementary
1. Task Card Scavenger Hunt
One of my favourite ideas for having fun with task cards is to hide the task cards around the room and have students find and complete them. This is even more fun if you can take it outside of the classroom and hide the cards in the hallways, library, gym or even outside!
2. Station Rotations
Set up stations or centres around the room with task cards for students to complete at each station. Alternatively, task cards could be one permanent centre activity in your regular literacy or math centres.
3. Table Games with Task Cards
Task cards can be so easily adapted to almost any simple board game. Require students to answer a task card before playing a turn. If they get it wrong, they lose their turn!
4. Play Scoot with Task Cards
Whole class games with task cards is a class favourite! Wondering how to play Scoot? In its basic form, pass out the task cards to each student/table. Use a timer to have each student answer their task card on their recording sheet. When the timer goes, you can have students move to the next task card and repeat or have students pass the cards to their neighbour.
I think it is more fun to have the students move but some groups handle this better than others so pick what works for you!
5. Task Cards Teams
Divide your class into teams and take turns answering questions, or race to answer first. Teams could get a point or fill in a space on a game board.
6. Early Finishers
Provide task cards for students who finish their work early to keep them engaged and practising whichever skill(s) you choose.
Send task cards home as homework for students to complete. I would recommend having a simple photocopied version or use digital task cards for homework in case they don’t all make it back!
Use task cards as a formative assessment to check student understanding of a skill or concept.
9. Small Group Instruction
Task cards can provide a quick and easy activity to do with a small group of students as an intervention or even enrichment.
Use this set of specific math skills (grades 4 – 8) to easily identify students working on the same math goal – perfect for planning guided groups!
Have students complete task cards and then use the answer sheet to self-assess their understanding of the skill or concept. Immediate feedback is always a bonus in education.
11. Task Card BINGO
Create a BINGO board using task cards and have students complete the tasks to fill in their board. You could use the numbers on the task cards to make an easy board that could be reused over and over.
12. Task Card Match
Print task cards on one colour of paper and the answers on another colour. Have students match each task card with the correct answer.
13. Task Card Race
Divide the class into teams and have them race to complete a set of task cards.
14. Task Card Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect 4
Create a tic-tac-toe or Connect 4 board, have students complete a task card before being allowed to play on the board. This is great for partners or small groups and requires almost no materials.
15. Task Card Swap
Have students walk around the room with a task card and find someone to ask their question to. If both students can answer each other’s card, swap cards and find a new person.
16. Task Card Gallery Walk
Put task cards up around the room and have students walk around and complete as many as they can. This can be done at one time, consider setting a timer, or over the course of a day or week when there is spare time.
17. Exit Tickets
Use task cards as exit tickets, providing students with a question or task to complete before leaving the classroom. This is a quick and easy formative assessment at the end of a lesson.
18. Digital Task Cards
You can also use digital task cards. Having task cards in a digital format is great for distance learning and homework, but also for in-class with the use of computers, Chromebooks or iPads. Students always love when they get to use devices!
How to Organize Task Cards
The problem with task cards is that you run the risk of ending up with a million small pieces of paper floating around your classroom! So you will want to come up with a system to keep them organized, and prevent different sets from getting mixed up.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Cut out the task cards and place them in a container or on a ring.
- Use small plastic containers or pencil cases are an ideal way to organize sets of task cards. Plus they stack and store easily.
- Include a title task card so you know what topic and level each set is covering.
- Print different topics on different coloured paper so you can sort task cards at a glance.
While colour task cards are great in theory, many schools don’t have colour printers and buying your own ink gets expensive fast! A great tip is to print your task cards in black and white but on coloured paper. Fun, colourful task cards without the expensive ink!
How to Make Task Cards
Making task cards is actually pretty easy, albeit a little tedious. If you plan on making your own, I would recommend creating a task card template that you can use over and over.
In their most basic form, you could simply create 4 rectangular text boxes on a page and write or type your questions. Of course, it’s fun to get a little more creative with design using borders, clipart and/or colours.
If you aren’t so techie and would rather make by hand, large colourful index cards are perfect for task cards! These blank ones are the perfect size.
They could be any size that works for your content and grade level. Literacy task cards will likely need more room than math task cards. Primary task cards may need to be bigger for larger fonts and graphics.
Each task card should be numbered so that it is easy to match the questions with the answers on the answer key.
It’s a good idea to include specific details such as specific concept, expectation, grade level etc… on your task cards in case different sets get mixed up.
Consider creating task cards at different levels for easy differentiation and building a design feature that allows you to easily sort them. For example, using a colour, letter or shape to code all cards of the same level makes for quick instructions to students.
Using Task Cards in the Classroom
I hope this answers what are task cards, and gives you some fresh ideas for how to use task cards as well as why you should be using them.
Let me know below if you have some ideas that I’m missing – I’m sure there are so many other ways to use task cards than what I’ve included. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!