What if I told you there was a tool you could use in science class that allows students to zoom in on their learning? No, not the microscope. That could heat up their chances to learn. No, not a bunsen burner. That using these could get students engaged, thinking independently or working collaboratively, and check their learning all at the same time. No, not a magic wand! The answer? Task cards.
This oh-so-effective classroom learning tool can be a real game changer in your science classroom.
what are task cards?
Quite simply task cards are cards–printed or digital–that have an activity on them that students must complete. But that’s where the simplicity ends!
Task cards can incorporate questions, movement, and collaboration. They can differentiate for all of the students in your class. They can also be used for formative assessment. Really, task cards open up so many options for your science class. Try this FREE set of 20 task cards for your science classroom today!
how to use task cards
Task cards are one of my must-have science tools in middle school and high school science classes. There are so many benefits to using them. Check out these 6 reasons to use them in your science class:
- Encourage active learning: Task cards are designed to be interactive and engaging so they promote active learning. With prompts and instructions on the task card, students have a level of independence to guide their learning. They can complete activities, conduct experiments, make observations, or ask questions. All of these options help them to think critically and creatively.
- Promote differentiation: Since each task card contains an individual prompt they can be differentiated to meet the needs of all learners. The activities can address different learning styles, accommodate diverse abilities, and challenge high achievers. Some students might complete 3 tasks while others complete 5-7. Task cards allow students to work at their own pace and level, which can build their confidence and motivate them to learn.
- Support collaborative learning: Task cards are an ideal way to include group work or cooperative learning settings. Aside from teaching science, students will gain skills in collaboration and communication too. By working together to complete tasks, students can learn from one another and build important social skills.
- Provide flexibility: Flexibility is the name of the game with task cards! They can be used in a variety of ways to suit not only the needs of your students in science class but so too with the duration of a lesson. They can also be used independently or as part of a larger lesson, making them a flexible teaching tool. There is no one way to use task cards. In my classroom, I’ve used them as warm-up activities, review exercises, and assessment tools.
Their flexibility also extends to format. You can use them as printed cards; I like to print a set and laminate them for reuse. Or use them in digital format to display to the class or have students use them on their own devices; ideal if you’re in a 1-2-1 technology-infused classroom.
- Facilitate formative assessment: Task cards can also be used to assess students’ understanding of a topic, identify areas of confusion, and provide feedback. Use them as an entry or exit card to check in with students before or after a lesson. With task cards, teachers can easily track students’ progress and adjust their teaching strategies accordingly.
I use these all the time in my Earth and Space Science classes. So much so that I put together this resource with 229 task cards (and growing). These quick assessments cover 11 units from Intro to Earth Science, Solar System, Weather to Rocks and Minerals, and more!
- Get students moving: Whether it’s learning stations, a gallery walk, or simply a scatter of task cards around the classroom encouraging students to move can be so helpful. You could even shift this lesson outdoors with printed task cards.
You know your students best so consider when during the lesson or even during the week they could benefit from some movement in class. And simplicity can be key here for setup. Once students complete the task at hand, they move on to the next task card.
Task cards can really do all of that and more! Sometimes simplicity can be magic! And task cards are that bit of simple magic you can use in your classroom.
Convinced? Download this FREE set of 20 task cards to use in your science class.