Task Card Tutorial Series: How I Use Task Cards

Hey y'all!  I'm not from Texas or from the south.  My sister is, and one summer I lived there with her.  I loved the word "y'all" and that everybody calls everybody else "sir" and "ma'am."  Several years later these favorite words have stuck around, even though the rest of my siblings think I'm ridiculous and laugh at me!  Being the youngest is rough, guys.
I use task cards all.  of.  the.  time.  Mostly I use them in math, but occasionally I use them elsewhere. I think they're fun & different, and I love that I can assign certain students particular numbers or I can just pull out one or two and work with a few students at a time.  They are a lot less intimidating vs. a worksheet for a student that looks at a worksheet and sees 20 opportunities to fail.

Basic Differentiation.  Most of my task card sets come with a recording sheet.  Depending on how much time I give them, I often tell them they have to have 10 (or whatever number I feel appropriate) to go to recess.  Our math block is first thing in the morning, and I LOVE that their brains are fresh.  I'll tell my students that getting the minimum done isn't going to get them an A+ on the participation portion of the assignment.  It's average effort so it results in an average grade.  If they get additional problems done, this is how they can get themselves up to 100%.  Always, always, always this is lenient.  Some of my struggling students feel like they can't get 10 done, so as I'm working with them, I often tell them that working with me counts for two, and I'll sign off a square.  Or something like that.  (Occasionally I will lower the number to give those students an opportunity to feel like they are super successful, and like I said, this system is flexible.  Often my hardest workers are the kids who have the hardest time, and I don't hesitate to give them full participation if they are working their tails off)  Mostly I use this system to keep the kids accountable while I work with other kids so that there isn't as much funny business going on.  I also keep a rule that no more than 3 people can work at the same problem at a time.  There's days where I throw in incentives if kids get all of them done like a homework pass or something, but I don't do that every day.

Massive White Boards  My Texas sister is also a teacher and curriculum designer and administrator and a million other amazing things because she is super teacher/woman.  But seriously.  She observed a teacher who used jumbo white boards for group activities in math.  I fell in love with it instantly.  I went to The Home Depot and bought some shower board.  (I have searched for it online EVERYWHERE and I can't find it, but I know it exists!)  It was like $10-$12ish for a large board, and I asked the nice employee man if he would cut it into smaller pieces so that I could use it in my classroom.  #teachercard  I ended up with six 2'x2' boards (roughly sized).  I will group my students, give them each a different marker color, a jumbo board and a task card.  They have to solve it together.  I use my group sticks to listen in for specific things in their conversation (I need an entire blog post for this...so come back next time. :))  Then, the group will raise their hands until I can come check the board.  A lot of times (depending on the group) I will tell them "yes" or "no" but I won't tell them why.  Sometimes all they're missing are the units, sometimes they have a decimal in the wrong place, etc.  I like to make them review their work instead of becoming dependent on me to tell them what they did wrong.  Also, they lose their spot as "first finishers" if they missed something like that, so over time they get really, really careful.  Win!

Gym Math  My room is right down the hall from the gym, so if the gym is open, I'll often take my task cards down there and spread them out all over the entire gym floor.  I make my students do some sort of movement between cards (crab walk, hopping, 10 jumping jacks, etc.)  This is especially my favorite on a Friday or before Christmas/Easter break.  At first they'll roll their eyes, but pretty soon they think it's pretty fun.  6th graders crack me up.

Draw-A-Problem On days when no one seems to feel motivated to get anything done, I play a game called draw-a-problem.  Every few minutes, I draw a problem number out of a hat.  Any student who has completed the problem can come up and I'll quickly check their work/answer.  If they have it correct, they get a prize.  If not, they have to go fix it.  It's really simple, but it helps them want to solve it right.

Homework Card Every once in a while, I'll print off a mini set of task cards (see this post) and give each student one card to take home.  They can glue it on to a piece of paper and then return it with the work underneath.  This is hands-down one of my students' favorite things because they can't get over the fact that they don't have to take home their huge math book and that they seriously only have ONE math problem for homework (which is hilarious because I really try to keep them between 5-10 every other night!  Ha!)  The little things, y'all.  Kids love it!

Well, that's about all I have in my hat of task card tricks!  What are some ways that you implement them?

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