Using Task Cards
Over the years, I have used my task cards in so many different ways. I love using them for SCOOT with the whole class (Click here to print a free copy of SCOOT Directions and recording sheet), but I also love using them in literacy and math centers, as a warm up, for independent enrichment, an engaging way to partake in standardized test prep, and for early finishers.
In the position that I'm in this year, I am working with small groups of kids as their primary math teacher. I have the kids work on task cards for 10 minutes at the beginning of each math period. The task cards that they work on are either review from the year or even for skills they need review on from the previous year. I assign them a set of task cards so that I'm sure they are working on skills they either need review or enrichment on. When they are done, they can choose from the wall (you will notice one set of task cards is turned around in my picture... that's because we hadn't covered all of the material, and students weren't free to take that one yet). I can't emphasize how much the kids love using task cards and how engaged they are in their learning when they are using them.
In literacy and math centers, I will put a set or two of task cards that are reinforcing the topic we are working on--whether it is place value, decimals, adding and subtracting decimals, etc. I either already have or I create a set of task cards for everything we do, and it is added into their rotation. It usually takes kids two or three days during a math center time to complete the cards.
Task cards are so perfectly wonderful for enrichment and DIFFERENTIATION! When we were working on multi-digit multiplication, I created a differentiated set of task cards. Some kids just needed the multi-digit practice, but then some kids were ready for multi-step, multi-digit practice, so I made two sets, almost identical, but with extra steps in one set. I have also created sets above grade level so that students can work on those if they have already mastered the unit.
I also have a section for critical thinking task cards, which students love to have the opportunity to work on!
Managing Task CardsI have had several people ask me how I manage task cards. It's much easier than you think, and in my opinion, easier than worksheet after worksheet...and so much more engaging. I have all of my task cards up on the board. I laminate the whole sheet (there are usually 4 cards to a piece of paper), and as long as you are using a decent laminator, you can cut the cards out of the already laminated paper, simply cutting the 8.5x11 piece of paper into fourths instead of cutting the cards out first, then cutting them out of the laminating as well. I punch a hole in the corner and use a binder ring to keep them together. I put a push pin in the bulletin board, stick the ring on it, and then label it with the post-it notes. They are labeled with color-coded sticky notes (different colors for different subjects) so that I can change them out as we finish them and they take 2 seconds to create.
I do make and provide answer keys and recording sheets for *most* of my task cards. I organize them in a binder that students know how to use. It is separated into sections by content area, and then I have a sheet protector that holds the master answer sheet on white paper, the answer key behind that, and then a set of student answer sheets on a colored piece of paper that the students can take and use. The students take what they need and are ready to go. Easy, easy. And with most of them having an answer key, kids can do a lot of self-checking. I don't always use the recording sheets! I often have students put their work in a math journal or on a blank piece of paper if I'm short on copies. As long as they are practicing the skill, sometimes it doesn't matter how they are recoding their answers and work.
Where do you find the time?First, cutting out task cards is THE perfect parent volunteer project. At the beginning of the year, I always ask for volunteers who would like to contribute to the classroom but can't come in during the day. Then, I send home a stack of laminating for them to cut out (among other things). I have found that parents really love this and feel like they are a part of the classroom, even if they work during the day or have small children and can't volunteer in the classroom. Second, let me emphasize how EASY this is. Print, laminate, cut, punch, hang. And you have a resource you can use year after year. For a set of 54 cards, that process took me about 15 minutes. And that equates to literally hours of practice for your students. Third, depending on how you are going to use the task cards, you really only need to make one or two sets of them at a time... your board doesn't have to be filled up with them this year, but if you spend a few minutes each unit getting task cards ready, by the end of the year, you will have them ready to go for the next year.
If you have ANY questions or comments about how you use or store task cards in your room, I would love to hear about it! Just post a comment or shoot me an email.
Finding Task Cards
You can find most of the task cards on my board at my TpT Store Here, and I'm creating new ones for most of the 3-5th grade common core standards in both language arts and math. If you have a specific request for task cards, in most cases I am more than happy to make a set that meets math or language arts common core standards. I just finished a huge bundle of holiday themed reading skill task cards that covers cause & effect, sequencing, inference, compare & contrast, context clues, and author's purpose. I can't wait to add these to my boards. I know my kids are going to go crazy over them!
Edited to Add: It was brought to my attention that Denise from Sunny Days uses a similar system for hanging her task cards (she calls them Brain Builders) for student use. I had never seen her post before, but it is fantastic! Here is a link to her blog for some more inspiration on organizing task cards.
Rachel Lynette showed how to use a small photo album to organize and protect task cards here.
Here is another similar organizational system for the cards. It's a dead link past the Pinterest Pin, but you can see what they've done just by looking at the picture.
If you have seen another great blog post about task card organization, send it to me, and I'll link it here!