Sunday, February 9, 2014

Task Cards in Action

I am sure everyone has seen all of the amazing task cards floating around TpT and the blog world. At first, I had no clue what to do with them. And now, we use them almost weekly. I want to share a few ways I use them with you because until now I had no idea how else they could be used other than Scoot. But.. some people might not even know what Scoot is! So let's start there...

Scoot is a fan favorite in my classroom. Last year, I would hang the cards in the hallway because I was in a portable and didn't have the space to do this in the class. But now that I have a real room, I hang them (in number order) around the room. Students start at one card (I have them start at the card that is the same number as their class assigned number) and rotate clockwise around the room, solving the problems and answering the questions on the cards. Depending on the skill, I give the students anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and a half to answer the questions. Usually we are in the range of 30 seconds to a minute but some math problems take a little longer. I don't say scoot usually though. I just ring my bell. And off they go. They like this because they get to move around while working through questions. Sometimes, to make it a little more enticing I offer a "prize" for the student who gets the most correct- a starburst, homework pass, pencil, etc. I do this when I know it is a skill that requires a bit more thought and I want to make sure they really put their effort into it and not rush to pick an answer. 

A new way we tried to use task cards was to play it in scavenger hunt form! I found this idea (and the next one) over at Task Card Corner. I decided to try the scavenger hunt idea with my telling time task cards. Let me tell you the general idea before I tell you how I completely botched this one up! The idea is that the cards are around the room and above them are answers to OTHER cards. So once students answer card #1, they have to find the answer around the room, then solve the card that is under it. It gives them a break from just going in order AND it ensures they get the answers correct and have to check their answers. Any time I had a student say "this answer isn't here" I told them they had to go back and check their work because they must have made a mistake. It was perfect. Except for my snafu... See, I decided last minute to try this out. And so I quickly wrote out all the answers on little index cards to attach to the questions. What I didn't think of was... I was just randomly placing them. And some of my students started going in circles. I accidentally had the answer to card 11 go to card 16... and the answer to card 16 took them back to card 11. I fixed that mess... then it happened again. So I fixed that one... and then... you guessed it. It happened again. So I finally said "if you end up in a circle, pick a card you haven't done yet and start a new loop." That worked. I realize NOW that I need to plan out where the answers are going and lay all the cards out and logically place them next time. But my kids were good sports about it and just carried on. I did let them work in partners for this one because I figured that would leave some open cards so that when students worked at different paces they weren't stuck waiting for someone else. That worked out well too.

The last method I tried was to give each group 3 cards on half a sheet of chart paper for them to solve. The cards in the pictures are elapsed time from Courtney. You can find them here. What no one knows is that there are two levels of cards on those posters. I believe the blue ones were easier than the red ones (but of course I can't remember now). But this allowed me to give certain groups more of a challenge.
Once everyone finished, the groups rotated and checked each other's work. I gave the half size sticky notes and they had to put a sticky note on any answers they didn't agree with. I made them label their group number on the sticky note so that we could discuss the discrepancies as a class when we went over them all. The kids LOVED getting to check their classmates' work and didn't even realize that they THOUGHT they only had three problems to solve, and in the end did anywhere from 6-12 problems. (Some students moved faster than others.) When we finished, I hung all 5 posters on the board and we went over every single problem together. (I forgot to take pictures, sorry!) Students got their white boards and markers and individually solved the problems too. This helped them to see what mistakes they made. Elapsed time is so not fun.... but they REALLY enjoyed this one!

I can't tell you enough how much fun we have with task cards in my room and how excited the kids get when I say we are going to play scoot or use task cards. If you have never used them, I suggest trying them out. There are TONS on TpT for everything you can imagine! You can even teach your kids to play scoot in a fun way with no worries from the students about actually getting the content portion. You can grab that freebie here.


  1. Love how you are using task cards in your classroom. I normally put them in my centers and the students turn in their answer sheets when they are finished. It's neat to see what everyone else is doing. I need to try these in the "Scoot" format.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. These are great ways to change up the traditional scoot game! I like seeing there are other ways to use task cards!
    A Tall Drink of Water


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