I gotta be honest, before this year I’d never really heard about task cards, let alone used them in my math classroom. But, I’ve been converted and now I can’t imagine teaching without them. Math task cards take center stage in my classroom now. I’m so excited to share with you 10 simple ways math task cards can energize your classroom!
What are task cards?
Task cards are a set of cards with one question or task printed on each card. They provide a wonderful alternative to worksheets to provide students with the practice and repetitions that they need in order to reach mastery. One of the great things about task cards is that they’re just so darn versatile to use. They can be used with students in a whole group setting, in small group or partners, or for individual practice. They can be used to play games like scoot. Or, task cards are ideal for learning centers while students are practicing a concept, as a challenge board for fast finishers, or for cyclical review of previously learned concepts.
How do I use math task cards in the middle school classroom?
In my classroom, I have used task cards in a variety of ways this year. I keep rings with task cards on topics that we’ve already studied near my teaching station to use as a sponge activity. Random moments can become quick cyclical review by projecting a task card for the class to work on with the doc cam. My students loved playing SCOOT with task cards- it introduced some movement into the classroom and they were super engaged on the practice task that they had in front of them for each of the 2-3 minute time frames. Altogether I’ve tested ten ways to use math task cards in my classroom, and I keep finding hit after hit. Do you see what I mean about being converted? And super versatile?
If you want a handy dandy task card reference guide- I’ve got you covered. All of these ideas are on a one page quick reference guide of ways I’ve used task cards that you can download here:
#1 Whole Class
Each student has a whiteboard to show their work and answers. The teacher displays the card on the screen and monitors and gives feedback while students are working. When time is up, all students show their white boards and the teacher can quickly scan and see what all have done. This is a great form of formative assessment.
Place cards in an envelope or on a binder ring in different centers. Students work on one center at a time while the teacher is monitoring and giving feedback. Student record their work and answers on their student record sheet for accountability.
#3 Independent Practice
Give each student a set or subset of cards. Then, students work on their set independently using the student record sheet to show their work and answers. You can have students come to the teacher when they have finished 1 card or a couple of cards to check on how they are doing and give short specific feedback to students individually. You can also stamp the students work on the record sheet to help keep students accountable and to show you quickly what students have accomplished.
Students work on groups of 3 or 4. They each have a whiteboard and a set of cards in the middle of their table. They turn a card over and everyone works on the task independently. When everyone is finished they show their work and answers. If students have different answers, the group members confer, explaining their reasoning, and determine which answer is correct.
#5 Exit Ticket
This is a formative assessment activity at the end of class. Show 1-3 task cards on the board and have students complete them and turn them in to quickly check understanding.
#6 SCOOT Game
Place one task card on each desk. Give students a certain amount of time to work on the card that they have (use student record sheet). When the time is up they look at the work and answer for the problem (copied on the back of the card) and then scoot to the next desk. Pro tip: use 8-10 cards for this activity (you’ll need 3 sets distributed on the desks). Students will complete the activity after scooting to 8-10 desks and all students will work the same problems.
#7 Bell Work
Have a task card or two displayed on the board for students to complete when they come in the room.
#8 In Partners
Give students a set of cards to work on in partners. Each student should record their own work for individual accountability. When students work in partners you’ll see an immediate uptick in math talk.
#9 Spiral Review
Pull out a set of task cards a month or two after teaching the topic and use them again as a way to review. Easy peasy! Students get great practice with very little prep time.
#10 Whole Class Game
There are a variety of games that you can play with task cards. You can have students complete a problem and then give them an opportunity to earn points by shooting a ball into a hoop, spinning a wheel with point values, trying to hit a target etc.
If you’re not using them today, I encourage you to try them out. I think you’ll find that math task cards really are low-prep tools that can ramp up student engagement in your classroom. Create your own, or download some from Teachers Pay Teachers- you’ll find a range of high quality task cards available from a number of shops on just about any topic you are studying. Or, check out one of our best-selling task card sets here.
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