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Monday, March 11, 2013

Using Task Cards to foster Creative & Critical Thinking

We are knee-deep in the trenches of standardized testing.  Some of our fifth graders take TWELVE hours worth of tests!  We are two tests away from being finished, so I will be back to my regularly scheduled programming here soon! I hope to have time with some of my kids to do a Tell Me a Story Tuesday tomorrow to post.  Since I teach TAG and Intervention, I am doing some individual test proctoring while my kids are testing, which has left me with only a few minutes to see them each day... and I have found the perfect thing for us to do when we DO have time together.

It's no secret that I love, love, love task cards, so it seems fitting that we would use task cards to take a break from testing and get our juices flowing in a direction other than standard algorithms and multiple choice questions with one correct answer.

While I have a lot of academic cards that we use often, I haven't really created many creative & critical thinking task cards... That's where Rachel Lynette comes in!  At the beginning of the school year, I downloaded her Three Reasons Why and List It cards to use with my students.  We use them on a daily basis, with each student getting one every day or every few days depending on what is going on.  They each have a creative & critical thinking journal, where I give them writing prompts, enrichment activities, and these cards! 

These cards are so perfect for differentiation because any kid can do them, but you can challenge your students to push a little further, too, if they need it.  Look at the example below:

 You can see that this kiddo started out her answers to the card all the same... She was listing cities that were crowded, but I knew she could be more thoughtful than that, so I challenged her to come up with places other than just cities.  She was frustrated because she wanted to just zoom through and move on, but when she came back the next day with some new ideas, she was very proud of herself.

 And on this one, the student gave mediocre answers, so I wrote back to her asking for more clarification.  The next day, she came back with a whole paragraph written about this letter!

With List It and Three Reasons Why, I periodically have my students pair up with another student and compare their answers.  They *love* doing this and seeing where their thoughts overlapped, and what direction one of their friends too it.

We also just discovered a new set of cards called Odd One Out.  The students read a list of words and choose the one that doesn't belong.  Not only that, but they must justify why it doesn't belong. We all got together as a group, and each student got two cards.  They had to give AT LEAST two reasons, and it was so much fun to hear their reasoning.  They shared out as a class, so the other students could chime in and give their own Odd One Out and reason, too.  It was a great de-stressing activity and we all had a lot of fun.

Now that the kids are familiar with the cards, I have been putting them on their desks to work on in their spare time, and in those minutes after testing that they have to stay completely silent waiting for other classes to finish their testing.  I found these ADORABLE little buckets at the Target Dollar Spot (2/$1) and they are perfect for holding task cards at student desks.  Each of my kids has one at their desk with a set of task cards they are working on at the moment (either academic or critical thinking).

Aren't these buckets adorable and the perfect size for task cards?
So, if you are in need of a brain break during testing or any other time during the year, I highly recommend some of Rachel's critical thinking cards!

Happy Testing and Happy Spring Break to many of you!

Click on the image above to see more posts about using Rachel's Task Cards!


  1. I love this idea! I haven't used any of the task cards you mentioned with my kiddos yet. I'll have to check them out. Thanks for sharing I'm a new follower.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. I have some of Rachel's task cards...but had missed these! Wonderful! They're in my shopping cart now. :)

  3. Oh! Brilliant post. Really website is dreadfully cooperative for all concerning this. I got few important helps from here and well recommended it. Indubitably I will decide my relatives and relevant competitors concerning this blog and will wait for more. Thanks a lot…….

  4. Great post! I'm glad I came across you through the task card linky on Minds in Bloom!