Task Card Tutorial Series: Making Any Set into a Mini Set!

OUR A/C IS FIXED!!!!  'Tis a glorious thing indeed!  Our temperature gauge did in fact reach 90 inside our house, so I was one happy lady when the A/C man came knocking on my door.  :)  This was my life until Wednesday.  Only it should've said "inside" as well!

My students are obsessed with task cards.  I don't know what it is about them that make 12-year-olds go wild.  Maybe it's because it's not a worksheet, so they suddenly think their lives have a bit more freedom.  Ha!  I love them for a million reason (which you'll see in the last post of the series), but I really love using them in small groups and reteach groups.  One of my biggest reasons for continuing to use task cards in my classroom is because they provide a very easy form of differentiation.  I usually spread them out all over the room and make a rule that only three people can be at one card at a time (otherwise every card's a party which means only 2 problems get solved in the class time).  This allows those students who find the topic really easy to accomplish a lot, while I can monitor and pull kids that I see having a tough time.  Sometimes I'll wander around with the answer key checking what they've already completed quickly to see where they're at, and I'll pull kids that way.  Other times I pull them based on what I saw earlier in class or from their homework.  I don't do it the same way each day - so official, I know.  Anyway, the task cards are great for me to use at the back table because one question at a time is WAY less overwhelming than 30 problems glaring at a student who doesn't fully understand.  In fact, I find that a lot of my students perk up and start wandering over after I've helped a few with a statement like, "I am having a bit of trouble on this problem, and I heard you talking about it.  Could you help me on this part?"  Um...yes?!  It's good stuff, guys.

A mini-card next to the regular task card

I really like to have two sets of task cards so that I don't have to search around the room for the card I need, but sometimes printing two sets of cards gets spendy with ink, paper and lamination, so I like to make "mini-sets."  I first read about the idea from Mary at Teaching with a Mountain View/Teaching with Task Cards, and her tutorial is VERY easy to follow, and you can read about it HERE!

Tiny little cards!

Not only do they save me a bit of $$, but my students (okay, let's be real, the girls) think they're just the cutest little cards that you ever did see.  I sent a mini set home with a student who was absent once, and she was pretty excited that she got to take the mini-cards home!  Those little things...

Are these not the cutest things ever?

Do you make mini-sets?  What's you're favorite use for them?

The set featured in these photos is my Translating Algebraic Expressions set which is available in my TpT store here!

Task Card Tutorial Series: Making Task Card Sized Covers & Answer Keys

Two posts two days in a row, and this post is a two-for-one special!  These two tips are two of my favorites, but they're so similar that they needed to share a post.  Sharing is caring, right?  Except when it comes to germs, even though my students feel like they should share those with me too.

PS if ever there was an over usage of the homophone "two-to-too" I gotcha covered ^

I will usually hole-punch the answer key and keep it with the task card set.  I love this because I can pull the set out to use again and again and I don't have to search for the file on my computer or the answer key in my "master" binder.  And I'm all for saving time folks.  

A lot of times teachers will ask TpT sellers to make/include a cover that is the same size as the rest of the task cards.  With this trick, you simply manipulate your print settings to do the job for you!  I'm using Adobe Reader here, but the trick works with Preview on a Mac as well.  (Adobe tends to give me fewer printing issues with TpT PDFs).  This tutorial assumes that the file you have has 4 task cards on each page in landscape orientation.

First, you'll want to identify which pages you'll want to print as a reduced or 1/4-sized image.  My cover page is on page 1, and my answer key is on page 13, so I will be printing these two pages. You can find this information in a box that looks like this along the top ribbon of your screen:

Second, open your printing options, usually by going to File>Print or by pressing CTRL+P (or CMD+P if you're using a Mac).

Third, you want to tell the computer/printer which pages you want to print.  Since I only want to shrink my cover and answer key pages, I'm telling it to print pages 1 and 13 (1, 13).

Fourth, make these selections.  I want 4 pages per sheet because my task cards are 4 per sheet.  You can change this if you're making mini-sets of task cards, which you'll see in my next post :)  I want my paper to print in Landscape orientation.  Again, depending on the format of the task cards you purchased, this may change.  Check the preview before printing :)

Fifth and lastly, check the little preview box to make sure it's going to look like you want!   If you're printing lots of pages, you may need to toggle on those arrows under the preview to see how they look on the next pages.  When you're satisfied, go ahead and press print!  

This is a GREAT way to keep your task cards more organized because the cover is identical to the one provided in the file.  Most sellers have the CCSS standard printed on it which makes your life all the easier. 

Past Task Card Series Posts: 

Task Card Tutorial Series: Organizing All of Your Cards & Hot Temperatures

You know how lots of cool bloggers have those "currently" posts?  Well, currently I am seeking refuge in my basement from the 89 degree temperature in the upstairs of our house.  89 DEGREES PEOPLE!  Our A/C is dead, and Fix-It Felix isn't coming until tomorrow.  This guy has no idea how excited I will be to see his work truck arrive.  Unfortunately, this is not the hottest I've been in the past week.  Growing up, every time my family took a big old family trip, there was always a hiccup with the car.  Part of it was Murphy's Law, and part of it was probably just the fact that the cars we had couldn't handle the heat.  Well, on our way back from San Diego this weekend on the I-15, our car power went out...like while we were going 70 mph.  We made it off the freeway next to another car that was having some troubles.  It was a given since it was 116 degrees.  That is Satan weather.  If you live in this type of weather often, props to you.  I would die.  After I cooked an egg on the asphalt.  :)  

Let's get down to business and talk about organizing the many, many sets of task cards you have lurking in your classroom!  There are lots of great resources out there, Mary at Task Card Corner has some fun ones HERE, but I always spend too much money on books for my classroom that I have to cut back somewhere else.  (aka I don't want too many Target trips showing up on our bank account.....)  

You'll need some of these nifty plastic "shoe box" containers.  They sell them at the dollar store, but I have a complex about my plastic containers matching, and the dollar store doesn't always carry the exact same brand and design.  So, I buy these guys from Walmart here.  They sell them individually at the store, and they are a dollar as well.  Win!  They sometimes carry blue and pink, but that would interfere with my plastic container complex.  After organizing each set individually, start loading them in!

I like to have different boxes for different subjects, but depending on how many task cards you have, that might not be the most efficient option for you.  If you don't have enough task cards to fill multiple boxes, I suggest making tabs to separate the subjects/concepts to save yourself from having to flip through each set every time you need to take them out. Ain't nobody got time for that.  

Now with the lid on, you can easily see what's inside, but it's all organized and VERY accessible when you're in a hurry!  If you don't like to see what's inside, you could line the sides with fun contact paper or even some scrapbook paper!  Now that that idea just popped into my head, I'm probably going to need to do this.  :)  Stay tuned!

Happy organizing, and here's hoping our A/C gets fixed on the double!

Past task card posts: 

Task Card Tutorial Series

I think I have an unhealthy addiction to task cards.  Sound familiar?  Before I even began selling on TPT, I loved everything about them.  I loved that they got my kids out of their seats, I loved that I could reuse them year after year, I loved that I could make them into a game with a little tweak here and there, and I loved that I had an excuse to buy a personal laminator.  (As a side note, blogger doesn't recognize the word "laminator")  This addiction has left me with task cards galore and over the few years that they've  been super popular, I've learned a lot of fun tips for using, organizing, storing and keeping track of them.  Some have come from my brain, others I probably gleaned from Pinterest here and there, and others came from fellow teachers.  I thought I'd share some of what works for me in a little mini-series to kick off the return of the blog!  Huzzah!

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing a different tip for a total of 7!  Summer is always my "organize" time of year since I don't have to sacrifice sleep to write a lesson plan at 1 am after working on an organization project.  Buuuut, let's be real, I'm up that late anyway.  

#1 This is my favorite way: a loose binder ring!  I can easily remove it when I'm using them in class with my students, but it's a very easy way to keep those pesky cards from running amok when it's attached!  I often will send a set of task cards to the resource teacher with my students so they can work on them, and I have always received my set in the same condition I sent it.  It's pretty self-explanatory; just punch a hole in each corner (you can use a single punch, but those things hurt my hand so I just use the middle punch on a 3-hole punch!) and slip the ring through.  Go!  Find the loose ones lurking in your desk and give it a try!  

#2 Ye old rubber band.  This is definitely not the snazziest way, but it sure gets the job done at the cheapest price.  I do like that I don't have to punch holes in each card, so I'll often turn to my rubber band collection when I'm in a time crunch.  I always have a few girls throughout the week who come to school early and ask for a job to do, and they'll punch the holes for me.  Man, I love upper grades!  A Rubber band really is a great way to store your cards if you don't like the idea of a hole being in each card.

#3 Binder Clips are another way to organize the cards without punching a hole.  I use these for my mini task card sets a lot because they're already so tiny that punching a hole takes up too much surface area for my liking.  Every teacher I know has about 5 million of these things laying around their junk drawer, so it's likely that you have all of the materials you need! :)

#4 A handy-dandy Ziploc Bag is the final way of storing them!  I only have a few sets of task cards in bags because I favor my binder rings.  I like to use Ziploc bags for task cards if they have other little pieces that go with them - perhaps I used some little game pieces for it, etc.  If you do choose to go this route, I highly recommend getting the freezer bags because they will hold up much longer than the regular sandwich bags.

How do you store your sets of task cards?