How To Use Task Cards!

You have probably noticed that a lot of my resources have task cards. That’s because there are so many ways you can use task cards. Here are just some of my favorite ways I use task cards in my lessons and small groups.

Ask, Ask Switch

This is another name for the Kagan strategy Quiz, Quiz, Trade.

Give each student a card. Some students may have the same card if you have more students than cards.

At a signal (“Go” or a windchime) students walk around the room until they find someone with no partner. They ask the partner the question on the card. The partner either answers it or says, “I don’t know.”

The first student listens to their partner and rephrases their answer or tells them the answer. Now the other partner asks their question.

The other student answers or says, “I don’t know.”

Now it’s time for the student who read the question or rephrase the answer they heard.

Now trade cards and find a new partner.

Tips for the leader:

I set very clear expectations with this activity from the very beginning. I will stop the game immediately and will continue on with other work at the first sign of inappropriate behavior. My “deal-breakers” include: wondering around, refusing to take a question from a classmate, faces made at classmates if they do or don’t know an answer or can’t read the card, always going and/or waiting for a particular “friend,” anything derogatory or rude, anything that is not class/topic related. Since they love this game, that is enough to keep this activity running smoothly after one or two times of showing consistency and high expectations.

When I introduce the game, I have two students come to stand at the front of the room and walk them through the process I have written out above.  I usually monitor by wandering through the milling crowd with a card. Most students like to ask us (teachers) questions, so I always carry a card but monitor as I play.

F.A.Q’s:

It is very important to use this activity for review and/or community building ONLY. The content, whether it is vocabulary or a specific review of topics, must have been taught first. MOST students should know the answers, and peers can be used to help those who aren’t retaining information, learn it in a different way (interactive review game).

Do not time your students – allow them to mix and mingle at their own pace. You don’t need to cue “switch.” This activity can last as long or as short as you would like.

Mark the cards that are most important and that you want to discuss as a class so that when you gather them you can quickly identify them and pull them out to the side.

Tips for students:

•Got the same card? Answer again, but in a different way!

•Rephrase is key!  “What did your partner say? Say it again in a different way to show them that you were listening.”

•Worried about reading or not understanding? Sometimes a question doesn’t make sense or maybe the font is hard to read. It’s our job to help each other. Help your partner first and then come see me. 

•Deal breakers: refusing to help someone read, refusing to partner with someone, making a face or being rude when you partner up,  waiting for a “friend”, getting too loud., being off-topic.

Fan, Respond, Pick Answer:

This activity ensures that everyone has a job while sharing, instead of asking students to share and just one person doing all the talking. Get your copy of the game card here.

Put students into groups of 4 and number them off 1-2-3 and 4. Each student has a job:

  1. Fan the cards out  
  2. Pick any card from student #1 and read it aloud
  3. Listen to student #2 and answer the question
  4. Listen to student #3 and respond. Ex. “I agree with you because….” or “I disagree because…”

After everyone has gone, you rotate roles. Ex. Student #1 is now doing job 2 and Student #4 does job #1. Keep going until everyone student has had an opportunity to be each number or job.

Mix and Mingle

This activity helps get students up and moving while creating connections.

At a signal (“Go” or a windchime) students walk around the room mixing up and “mingling.” When the teacher says “stop” or the chime sounds again they give the person closest to them a high 5 and then stand back-to-back. If a student has no partner, they should raise their hand and look around the room.

I like having them high 5 while saying, “I’m so glad you’re my partner.”

The teacher reads the card, and the students discuss the answer one at a time. You may have the tallest or youngest student get to talk first, which provides more structure to the activity.

I suggest setting a timer for 30 seconds to 1 minute. After the timer goes off the person that was talking now becomes the listener.

  After both partners have talked students start the next round and mingle again. Repeat for as long as time allows.

Photo by Eren Li on Pexels.com

Scoot/Scramble

Scoot and scramble are similar with one big difference. In scoot, the students have a structured flow of movement and in scrumble, they have more freedom to move around.

Scoot-

  1. Lay out the cards in numerical order and give each student a game sheet.
  2. When you say go or sound a chime students answer the card in front of them.
  3. When they hear the code word or chime again they scoot to the next card. Students “scoot” in numerical order until the game is completed.

Scramble-

  1. At a signal (“Go” or a windchime) students walk around the room finding each card. They read the card and circle their corresponding answer on their answer sheet. Students can go in any order.
  2. Come back together to review answers.

Serve and Return

This game is perfect for teaching students to take turns speaking. I explain it to students like they are about to play tennis.

Partner students in groups of 2-3 and give each group 3-6 cards. Assign one person to start talking first. Their job is to discuss the cards for the allotted time (ex. 4 minutes).

The other teammates are the listeners. If their partner gets off-topic or conversation stops their job is to keep everyone talking. For example, they could say, “tell me more about why you said…”

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

To guide your reading

Slip a task card in your book as a “bookmark” to help remind you where to stop and discuss.

For data

Use the log sheet to record student responses or simply print out the task card and give it to students. They can write their response on the back and this can serve as an “exit ticket.”

How do you use task cards in your program?

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