Do you ever look at everything you need to complete with your students and wonder, “How on earth will it all get accomplished?” Ever see your students’ eyes glaze over when they’re handed an assignment that they think is too daunting to complete?
Perhaps it’s time to consider breaking it down into tasks — tasks you can make accessible to your students at all levels of understanding. Also, choice: let your students take ownership of their learning by giving them choices in the tasks they need to perform to claim mastery.
That’s exactly what many of our TpT Teacher-Authors are doing. And boy, are they seeing the results! Task cards aren’t just for elementary school students either. Educators are using them in middle school and high school, plus SLPs and Special Education teachers are finding success with them as well.
Praise From Middle and High School Teachers
“I love task cards! I had never heard of them until I discovered TpT, and now I use them almost weekly! There’s such an amazing selection of task cards available on TpT for almost every skill or concept. I love using them when we do stations in my 8th grade ELA class to review previously taught concepts, as well as in small groups as cooperative learning, or with partners when practicing current skills. My students love when I take a set of task cards, divide them into piles of four or five cards each, and give small groups 1-2 minutes to complete as many as they can. Then I yell ‘rotate’ and the groups rotate the stacks around the room. I give a reward to the group that gets the most questions correct.
As a bonus, my hard-to-please principal LOVES seeing task cards on evaluation days! She likes that they’re hands-on, engaging and motivating to students, can easily be differentiated, and keep the pacing quick.” – Erika Forth
“Eeeeee! Task cards! We love these tools for the classroom! We call our task cards ‘Thinkets’ or ‘Think Tickets’ because they involve critical thinking skills. Our Thinkets vary greatly but they’re often open-ended and inquiry-based questions that make for a great learning tool and help to create an engaging learning environment. Students may be asked to create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast, draw an illustration and label important parts, write a letter to a famous person, research a current event, or even take a stance on a controversial topic. They’re great to use before tests, as an assessment, homework, warm-up activity, stations, or scavenger hunt activity… you name it! The key is that they allow students to socialize, collaborate, and think critically about the task at hand and Think-et through.” – Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy
“Task cards allow middle and secondary students to use many unique intelligences in class — in flexible and fun ways. They take the dullness out of analyzing texts and carry students along amazing adventures as they read. Students are able to connect ideas across integrated topics through the use of multiple intelligence task cards.” – Ellen Weber – Brain based tasks for upper grades
“Last year I was looking for a new way to engage my middle school math students and stumbled upon Rachel Lynette’s Free Task Card Handbook. It was just the boost I needed to take my students’ practice with their math skills to a new level of understanding and engagement.
My students love them because they get to walk and talk. I love them because the students are ALL engaged, on-task, and learning. Listening to the quality conversations that take place as a pair of students are analyzing why they got two different answers for a card and critiquing each other’s work until they arrive at a conclusion they both feel confident in warms my heart. When I hear those conversations, I know they’re really learning.” – Kacie Travis
“I love how easy it is to differentiate with task cards! I sometimes give one set of task cards to one group of students and another set to a different group, depending on which skills they each need to practice. Other times, I give the same task cards to all students but give them different recording sheets. I only really started to get into task cards last year. I was amazed the first time I used them when I realized how much more engaged students were with them than they were with a worksheet with similar type problems. I think the students really like the collaborative nature of task cards!” – Math in the Middle
“Task cards make it easy to differentiate so students can work at their own level. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate without students knowing that you’re giving a struggling student more practice or a more advanced student a harder question. I designed my task cards to have four different difficulty levels within each set. The border on the card shows the difficulty of the card and most students don’t notice if you don’t tell them! This way, I can hand out cards to students and customize the difficulty level of each card for each student, encouraging extra skill practice for students who need it and challenging more advanced students with questions they’re ready for.” – High School Science with Mrs Lau
“Task cards are so versatile! I like to use them to review and reinforce important skills and concepts. My favorite way to do so is with learning stations because not only are students working independently, but they also get a chance to get up and move around.” – Room 213
“As a high school teacher, I dug in my heels and resisted task cards for a long time. I just couldn’t imagine that I could ever get my students on board with this idea. I made my first set of task cards to see if they would sell on TpT but before I posted them, I decided to try them in a 10th grade biology class.
My biology students are used to lab practicals and rotating through different lab stations. I set the task cards up lab-practical style and used them as a review for a huge unit test that was approaching. It was a big hit! The students were engaged the entire class period, there was much discussion going on in the small groups, and the average test score improved as a result. I even had students coming in before and after school asking if they could work through the cards a second time prior to the test.” – Science Stuff
Elementary Teachers Chime In
“Ohhhh, task cards… how I love you! Students in our classrooms have used them during centers to review skills taught in whole group lessons, and we’ve used them for a get-up-and-move game for skill practice (it was ‘scoot’ before I ever heard the word ‘scoot’). But my favorite way to use skill cards is as a supplement to my small-group instructional lessons. As more and more students are entering the regular education classroom at a wider range of academic levels, I’ve had to find more efficient ways to meet their needs. Task cards are it!” – the2teachers
“I love task cards! They’re so much fun and make learning so much more hands-on. My favorite thing for task cards for is numbers! Give students a hundreds chart along with a pile of task cards that tell them what numbers to color in to reveal a fun picture — they’ll be so excited to figure out the picture that they won’t even realize they’re doing math!” – Miss Giraffe
“I love using task cards! The best thing about them is that they’re so versatile. They’re useful in centers or with both large and small groups. My favorite activity is to tape about 20 task cards on the wall throughout the room. Students then walk around and answer the questions. I love this strategy because they can work at their own pace. Also, I can pair some students up and have others work independently.” – The Science Penguin
“I love getting my kids up out of their seats, so if I can give them a clipboard and have them move around the room or hallway, I’m all about it. This is what I love about task cards. My kids don’t really consider it ‘learning’ when they’re moving around, choosing their own direction. Isn’t it great when your students are mastering new concepts and completely focused, but still having fun?” – TGIF Third Grade is Fun
“I’m hooked on task cards! Whenever I want to break up the ‘routine’ and get kids moving and motivated, I use a set of task cards. What I love about them is that there are several ways to use them: at a center, pinned to the walls, on the desks for kids to ‘scoot’ around to… you get the idea. I store my task cards in plastic baggies in a tub, so all I have to do is grab and go.” – Carol Martinez
“I’ve created hundreds of task card sets over the last few years. It’s amazing how they’ve gone from a rarely-used resource to a mainstream staple in many classrooms. I think they’re an amazing resource for so many reasons. For starters, they can be used in a variety of ways, many of which incorporate movement. This makes a big difference for wiggly kids. Games, centers, pairs, small groups, homework, whole class… you name it, you can do it. Kids LOVE them, even though they might contain the same content as a worksheet. I think it really helps that they only see one challenge at a time and that when laminated, the cards are so attractive and tactile.” – Rachel Lynette
“We LOVE using task cards. We’re always looking for ways to encourage students to work collaboratively and to stretch their thinking through the application of previously taught skills. We especially like to choose topics that are often challenging for students and ask them to complete task cards around those skills in small groups. The environment that’s created with task cards motivates students to persevere through difficult tasks, which is so exciting to see.” – Two Nuts Teachin’ from the Same Tree
“Task cards give me an easy way to differentiate for diverse ability levels and learning styles. I love the purposeful collaboration that takes place. They also provide the perfect opportunity to give kids choices and to encourage them to take ownership of their learning. The responses the children come up with to open-ended questions and tasks never cease to amaze me.” – Teaching Treks
SLP’s and Special Education Teachers Have Much to Say
“SLP’s use task cards a lot because it allows us to work on diverse goals in a group using a common element: a game! Fun learning is effective for getting students to use the communication skills they’re acquiring. Working with special education students, I’ve also found that a worksheet can look overwhelming, leading to refusal to work, while a small card in a game is totally OK. For this reason, most of the products in my store are task cards or games, with ideas for how teachers can use them in stations and centers.” – Looks Like Language
“I love task cards! As a Special Ed Resource Teacher, I need to have a variety of different-leveled work for students. Task cards allow me to provide that variety. I do stations two days a week in my math classes. One of the stations is math review. Students choose a set of task cards (where they know how to do the math concept) to work through. I have some kids adding and subtracting, some working on order of operations, some working on decimals, etc. I also use them for whole-class activities in an around-the-room style or ‘musical chairs’ style in which everyone is doing the same set of cards.” – Misty Miller
“I use task cards (we call them ‘Doors’ at my school) all the time in my classes. I count them as quiz grades as a way to counter the lower quiz grades that my Special Education students can sometimes get because of nerves. Some of my task cards also have QR codes, which I think are super cool!” – Scaffolded Math and Science
Foreign Language and Music Teachers Sing the Praises of Task Cards
“Last school year, I felt like I had fallen into somewhat of a ‘worksheet rut’ for a bit. I needed a fresh, new idea to get students to practice various language skills. I discovered the idea of using task cards on TpT and set out to make a few sets to test the idea on my own students. They loved the idea!” – Island Teacher
“I used task cards in the spring to review and help students prepare for the final exam in my course. They loved being able to get out of their seats and discuss the questions with classmates before turning in their answers.” – Madame H
“Problem: How to bring music into our classrooms and find time for social skills. Solution: Add in some ELA too, and you’re there! I created task cards to help kids really focus in on the lyrics they’re absorbing every day — because what we absorb, we often end up believing as fact. Based on one-on-one student/teacher conversations, these cards were created from the deepest place in my heart. I get so excited to hear good things back since I know I’m helping even more kids stay in tune.” – I am Bullyproof Music
What enthusiastic responses! These folks don’t just use task cards; they love them. Check out our entire offering of Task Cards!
(Feature image: Thanks to Hugs Design for the frame, Whitney Parlin for the chevron background, and Kimberly Geswein Fonts for the font.)