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Monday, August 7, 2017

"Teacher, I'm Done" Task Cards

Hi friends,
I just updated the task cards below and I've received a few questions... so I thought I'd take a minute to explain how these task cards came to be ;)

I continued to read and hear of many teachers who need to accommodate students that continually finish their classwork early. These teachers were looking for engagement other than... quiet reading with follow up activities or mentor other students.

As a 2nd grade teacher I have experienced the identical concern in my own classroom. My ultimate goal is to keep my students engaged and challenged throughout the day including when their initial work is completed. I must be honest here... my skin cringes when a student say, "Mrs. Evans, I'm done. What should I do now?"
I usually get this statement when I am reteaching or explaining a question to an individual student or small group... somedays I'd like to say ... "just go"... "Just go do anything quiet"... "just leave me alone"   I know! I know!  I can't... so I don't... but between teacher friends... somedays I REALLY wanted to!!!

This "concern" never seemed to disappear.  The situation continued to come up... maybe even more often than in the past as my classroom dynamics continued to become more 
black and white each year.  
High students vs. low students
 Independent workers vs. dependent workers.
Above grade level vs. below grade level.
The gray has become almost non-existent... 

I had to come up with an idea to solve the situation.
I wanted it to be motivating and engaging for the student 
but easy to set up and manage.

I did a lot of research and gave a lot of thought to this new area of my classroom curriculum ... in a way adding to my classroom management... 
as this will be what will my high, independent, above grade level students will do after completing the required assignments?

The amazing Rachel Lynette of Minds in Bloom
 wrote an article about task cards.
 She said,
"Before you distribute yet another worksheet, ask yourself: Could I accomplish the same objective with task cardsTask cards are highly motivating and effective teaching tool that can be used across the curriculum. Here are just a few reasons you should consider utilizing this valuable tool:

Task cards are motivating for students because there is only one task per card. Imagine that you are a fourth grader struggling with summarizing. Receiving a packet of paragraphs to summarize will likely feel overwhelming. However, if those same paragraphs are placed on task cards, the student need only deal with one paragraph at a time. He or she feels that sense of accomplishment when one is completed before moving on to the next. 

Task cards can be made to target specific learning objectives. This is great news if your district has adopted the new Common Core Standards. If your students are weak in a specific area,  you can make or purchase a set of cards that focuses on the specific skill. This also makes task cards great for test prep!

Task cards make differentiation easy. Struggling students can just complete a few cards or complete cards with multiple choice answers. Another option is to allow some students to answer verbally. More able students will enjoy the challenge of open-ended cards and you can also require longer answers. In addition, you can create or purchase sets for different levels.

Task cards are versatile. A single set of task cards can be used in a variety of ways; at individually at centers or stations, in pairs or small groups, and even with the whole class.  They can be part used as part of your daily routine, as enrichment, with games, or even as homework. Further, they can be used with any age group from kindergarten to adult. 

I had my answer...
"Teacher, I'm Done Task Cards"

This will give students control and choice over their own learning, but it offers me the opportunity to choose activities to enrich and expand on what we are working on in class. It also gives me the ability to make sure the students are challenging themselves in various areas of the curriculum.

I created this peg board with 12 silver hanging pegs.
Each month the cards change (Back to School, Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving etc)... offering my top students a variety of skills to master.

Along with the cards, I created a simple student booklet for the kids that were going to be working on this challenge.  I actually invited this handful of students out into the hall and expressed my admiration for their hard work and academic achievements.  I also told them that I had a challenge to offer them... that is when I handed out the booklet, showed them the peg board (with cards) and gave the instructions.

The instructions are simple...
whenever they have completed their classroom requirements, they are invited to take out their booklet, take a set of task cards off the peg board, head back to their desk to complete the task and challenge their mind.

There are 12 sets of task cards each month...  6 Math and 6 ELA.
Each are designed to be complete independently without the student interrupting the teacher's schedule.  The students have all the materials needed to complete the challenge on their own.
Sets do not have to be completed in a particular order... so if the one they were looking for is being used by another... no problem... they can grab another set. If they don't get enough time to complete the entire set... no problem... they just hang the cards back up on the peg and place their booklet in their desk until the next time they have time.

To help them stay organized and recognize their progress...
each time they complete a set... they use a hole punch to punch the back of their booklet... when all the sets are punched, their booklets should be complete and all the task cards have been used and mastered.  
At this point they have accomplished their challenge!

They earn "extra credit", feel a sense of accomplishment, recognize their leadership and often times earned a treat from Mrs. Evans.

The cherry on top was that additional kids worked hardER to get their hands on a task card booklet...
  They wanted the challenge also!
 They focused and completed more in the classroom, so they could participate.

It was a win, win for all of us.
I wasn't faced with the dreaded "Teacher, I'm Done!" phrase anymore...
my top students were excelling on their own...
and... overall each of my students tried harder in the classroom.

I was so happy with the first month...
I created additional sets for each month!!

The following year, 
I accepted the challenge from teachers around the country
 to create task card sets for 1st grade also.
I'm happy to say... I completed my challenge, too!

 I've posted a set of task cards FREE for you try out in your classroom. 
It is a FAIRY TALE theme so it can be used any month.
Just click the top picture below to visit my store and download your copy.

Click on the image below to see a post that I wrote a couple years ago ;)

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