I’ll admit it–I was super late to the task card game as an English teacher. I had never heard of task cards until I was browsing Teachers Pay Teachers and teacher blogs for ideas. Even then, I only vaguely had an idea of what they were before using them in my class. Since then, I’ve learned how flexible and ingenious task cards are. In this post, I want to share some of the ways that you can use task cards in your English class!
What Are Task Cards?
Task cards are exactly what they sound like–cards that each contain a task or question on them. A task card for English might say something like “Describe the protagonist of To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Write a sentence using a semicolon correctly.”
They may or may not include a worksheet where answers can be written down.
Tips for Using Task Cards in your English Class
If you’re making your own task cards, remember to number them. It will help when students ask how many they have to do, and it will be essential when you’re trying to figure out if a deck of task cards is complete or not.
I highly recommend making a worksheet to go with task cards, too. If you have twenty-five task cards in a deck, give students a blank worksheet numbered up to twenty-five. This will help students stay focused on completing the task (cards) at hand.
If you can, laminate the cards! It’s amazing how much a single card will go through during the course of just a single school day. If you’d like to reuse the task cards or use them in a creative way, laminating them is the only way to go!
Use Task Cards as a Worksheet
The most straightforward way to use task cards is like a worksheet. Students work their way through the cards, completing tasks or answering questions on a separate sheet of paper as they go.
I always use task cards to reinforce students’ understanding after teaching the concepts of claim, evidence, and reasoning. After teaching them about claim, they do claim task cards. Then evidence, followed by reasoning.
Why bother with task cards instead of just making a worksheet?
The cards shuffle and move, unlike questions on a page. For students who tend to fidget or have short attention spans, task cards make simple worksheets more “hands-on.”
Task cards are also just a nice break from traditional worksheets. If you’re finding yourself in a “worksheet rut,” try some task cards instead!
Use Task Cards as a Scavenger Hunt
My favorite way to use task cards is as a kind of scavenger hunt or gallery walk. Instead of giving students a deck of task cards, tape them up around the classroom (or down the hallway, around the library–whatever you can get away with!).
Give students a blank worksheet or have them number a piece of paper–one number for each (numbered) task card.
Now, in order to complete all of the tasks or answer all of the questions, students will have to walk around the room and find each task card.
Having students get up and find the questions they need gives students a break from otherwise sit-and-get lessons.
I love doing this because it’s a low prep way to add movement to a lesson. If you’ve already got the task cards, taping them up around the room takes just a few moments. Plus, it’s easy to put these up for one class, but take them down for any classes that maybe can’t handle walking around the room.
Use Task Cards as a Group Activity
If students are really antsy, you can always use task cards as a group activity.
Students can partner up and quiz each other using the task cards. If task cards are really difficult, having a group of students working through a task card deck might work, too.
Depending on your classroom culture and the general “trustability” of your students, you might even just let them talk and help one another as they work through task cards.
My students struggle with my evidence and reasoning task cards. They often have a lot of questions, but when they’re allowed to chat or work with a peer, they’re usually able to sort it out themselves. Hearing one another’s work and seeing others’ examples also helps reinforce knowledge and clarify information for struggling students.
Using task cards as partner or group work is just one more way you can use task cards to break up classroom routines while reinforcing content.
Task cards are wonderfully flexible teaching tools for your English class! You can even vary how you use them from class period to class period, allowing for in-the-moment differentiation.