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20 Ways You're Missing Out if You're Not Using Task Cards!

We've all felt like Steve Carell's character in The Office .gif below.

We HATE being left out!  Well teachers, if you've never tried task cards before, I hate to tell you, but you ARE missing out!  You may have wondered what all the task card hype is about, but have never given them a try.  There's no time like the present!  Though we strongly believe the benefits of using task cards are endless, here are 20 ways people have told us they love using task cards in their classrooms:

1. Task Cards BREAK WORK DOWN into smaller, workable parts.

For those kids who rush through their work or get overwhelmed by long worksheets, task cards provide the perfect alternative!  Task cards are especially helpful for those teachers working with struggling students or students with learning disabilities or special needs that are still required to take a standardized test at the end of the year.  Students are still getting good, quality test prep with task cards, but it's broken down into smaller, workable amounts that they can handle more easily.

2. Kids are doing the same thing they usually do on worksheets (AND HATE), and they don't even realize it.

We all have kids who HATE doing worksheets.  Let's face it, most of them do!  And we as educators hate grading them!  One of the best things about using task cards is that kids are doing the same exact thing they would normally do on a boring worksheet, and they don't hate it.  They actually enjoy it!  And you almost feel like you're being sneaky and getting away with something (insert evil laugh here).

3. Task Cards are ALIGNED with STANDARDS.

We all have standards we have to teach, whether you're using TEKS like we do in Texas, or Common Core like most of the rest of the country.  When you use task cards, you can rest assured knowing that you're teaching and reinforcing those important standards we're required to teach, and make your principal happy at the same time! :)

4. Task Cards make TEST PREP less painful.

Students HATE test prep.  Even more, we as educators hate test prep!  When you hand out that test prep worksheet, it's amazing just how quickly your students eyes glaze over.  You know exactly what I'm talking about!  But when you use task cards, you NEVER see that look.  Instead, students are happy to start working.  And when you use task cards as a game or add in some sort of incentive, they actually become excited!  Who ever thought that test prep could actually be FUN?

5. Task Cards are EASY to implement.

Teachers juggle so many things on their plates that just the mere thought of trying something new can make you break out in a cold sweat within seconds.  Luckily, implementing task cards in your classroom is EASY!  Even if you make your own or purchase task cards you have to assemble yourself, once you begin using them and see the profound difference they make in your classroom, you'll quickly jump on the "Task Card Bandwagon!"

6.  Task Cards are FUN and ENGAGING!

Contrary to what our students believe sometimes, teachers actually prefer for the time students spend in their classrooms to be FUN and ENGAGING.  Using task cards prevents eye rolls, heavy sighs, moans, grunts, snores, glossy eyes, and drool running down the side of your students' mouths.  Instead, they're smiling, alert, engaged in the lesson, and best of all, having FUN!

7.  Task Cards allow for DIFFERENTIATION of various learning needs.

Gone are the times when students were divided into classrooms by ability level.  Today's classrooms are filled with a plethora of ability levels and learning needs, and teachers are given the arduous task of trying to meet all of them.  Task cards are available in a wide range - from basic to higher-level - for numerous skills and are essential for teachers needing to differentiate concepts for their students.

8. Use Task Cards for SMALL GROUPS and INTERVENTION.

When you're working with students in small groups or providing intervention for struggling students, task cards are perfect because they help teachers quickly assess where their students are and where they need to go.  Also, they are great activities for parent volunteers to use when they're working with students one-on-one.

9. Use Task Cards with Math & Literacy Centers/Stations.

It can be difficult finding good quality items to use in math or literacy centers/stations.  Task cards provide a great option because they're short and can be done quickly and because there are so many options out there for whatever skill you're teaching at the time.

10. Task Cards are so VERSATILE!

The options for using task cards are ENDLESS because they're so VERSATILE!  Task cards work well as bell ringers and exit slips, and they can be used to play all kinds of review games, such as SCOOT, Around the World, Quiz-Quiz-Trade, or my personal favorite, "Be the Teacher."  

In "Be the Teacher," the students take over the class, and the teacher is able to sit back and assess learning and participation from the sidelines.  In the game, one student starts by taking over the role of the teacher and placing a task card under the overhead projector/Elmo/Ladybug and reading it to the class.  Every student has ABCD answer choice cards or a whiteboard & dry-erase marker, and chooses the correct answer to the question.  When the "teacher" instructs the class to "show me your answers," the class holds their answer cards high for the "teacher" to view.  If all classmates answer correctly, the "teacher" awards the class a point and writes it on the board.  If the entire class doesn't answer correctly, no point is awarded (this holds students accountable and they work hard not to let down their classmates).  The "teacher" chooses a new classmate to be the next "teacher" and continues the steps above.  At the end of play, each student is awarded with a ticket, candy, or some other prize for every point the class earned.

11. Use Task Cards for Math & Reading BOOT CAMPS.

In the few weeks before a state standardized test, many teachers employ math/reading boot camps (or whatever subject you teach) to review skills and give students that last little push before the big test.  Task cards are so easy to use with this great teaching strategy.  If you've never done a boot camp and are interested in learning more, check out these blogs by MathyCathy and Teaching with Style for some great examples and tips!

12. Use Task Cards with BOARD GAMES.

Using task cards with board games takes the fun to a whole other level!  Kids love board games, so why not use them to your advantage?  You can use task cards with lots of board games kids enjoy - like Hedbanz, Checkers, Connect 4, Sorry, Jenga, Chinese Checkers, etc. - and because they already love them, you don't have try very hard to get them into the game.  In order for students to be able to make a move in the game, they have to answer a task card correctly first - it's as simple as that!  If they answer incorrectly, their turn is over and the next kiddo must go.  So much fun with so little effort from you!

13. Task Cards are CHALLENGING but SHORT enough to finish in a REASONABLE amount of time.

Time passes so quickly during the school day that we don't have any of it to waste.  And because standards have risen so much in the last few years, we certainly can't waste that precious time on things that aren't going to challenge our students and make them think at a higher level.  Task cards provide challenging questions for students to answer, but they're short enough for them to finish in a reasonable amount of time.  You can't beat that!

14. Task Cards break up the MONOTONY of TEST PREP.

Let's face it - test prep is BOOORRRRIIIINNNNGGG!!!  It can be downright miserable sometimes for everyone involved - the students AND the teacher.  And since the education system today is determined not to let go of standardized testing, we're stuck doing it.  Thankfully, using task cards for test prep breaks up the monotony and is a welcomed relief for the teacher and the students.

15.  Task Cards provide ENRICHMENT for fast finishers.

We all have those students that finish within 5 minutes of passing out an assignment, then they're at our side bugging us and asking, "What do I do next?"  Task cards provide the perfect extension for these inevitable "fast finishers."  They get to extend their learning and stay out of your hair while you're working with students who are struggling.  It's a WIN-WIN!

16.  Task Cards provide REINFORCEMENT and EXTRA PRACTICE.

When students are struggling, it can be difficult sometimes to find extra practice that's not going to bog them down with more work to do.  Task cards work great to help these struggling kiddos because they're short and if done a few at a time, students can get that sense of accomplishment they so need, which in turn, boosts their self esteem.

17.  LAMINATE Task Cards and write on them with DRY-ERASE markers.

Those on the outside often wonder why teachers love laminating so much.  Our principals just don't get it why our entire day is ruined when the laminating machine is broken or out of film.  Our husbands (or wives) don't understand why we spend our own personal money on a back-up laminator to have just in case things get desperate.  Unfortunately, they'll never get it because they don't do what we do.  Laminating task cards allows students to write on them using dry-erase markers.  They can show their work, but then it can be erased and USED AGAIN, the whole glory of lamination that "the others" will never quite understand.

18.  Assign Task Cards for EXTRA PRACTICE at HOME.

Parents always ask, "What can I do to help at home?"  Then, we as teachers are left scrambling to find extra work for them to do that is usually ineffective - either because their kid already is tired of working or with the different methods taught today, parents don't understand how to teach them the same way - resulting in frustration for both the student and the parent.  To avoid this catastrophe, the better, more effective option is to let parents use task cards with their children at home for extra practice.  They can be done a few at a time so that the student doesn't feel overworked, and they're short and easy for the parent to implement when they have a few minutes of spare time.

19.  Using Task Cards gets kids out of their desks and UP & MOVING.

Because kids have such short attention spans, it is essential to get them out of their desks and up & moving often.  When you use task cards in a scavenger hunt or to play SCOOT, Around the World, Quiz-Quiz-Trade, etc., it's easy to keep kids engaged, learning, and up & moving all the time.

20.  Task Cards can be USED OVER and OVER AGAIN!

As teachers, we don't like to spend our hard-earned money on things we can't use again.  Fortunately, that'll never be an issue with task cards.  Not only can you use task cards year after year, but you can also use them multiple times during the year to quickly review skills and concepts taught previously.  

After reading through these 20 reasons, I don't know how anyone could remain unwilling to give task cards a try.  You'll be amazed by the awesome resources out there that will take your teaching to the next level.  

If you're still not convinced and need more information, check out this great website by Rachel Lynette, Totally Task Cardsor download her free handbook and learn everything you need to know about task cards.

Have any other ways you love using task cards in your classroom?  Please share with a comment.  We'd love to hear from you! :)


Watson Works, LLC

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