So Many Task Cards, So Many MORE Uses {7 MORE Ways to Use Task Cards in the Classroom}

Task cards are a staple that every teacher can use.  They are effective and engaging, low prep, easy to use, versatile, and they can be used with any subject.  Task cards are one of my favorite resources because of all these things.

A while back, I shared ways in which task cards can be used in the classroom.  Click HERE to read my original post featuring seven terrific uses for task cards.

But here's the thing, there are even more ways to use task cards!  So, I'm back with a new post featuring seven more ways to use this versatile resource.

Use them to assess your students at the end of your lesson.
In my previous post, I shared that I often project task cards (one at a time) via my document camera as part of our math warm up.  Why not project them at the end of your lesson (any subject) to assess your students' understanding of the content you just taught?   

To do so, have your students respond on their personal whiteboards. Don't have personal whiteboards?  Place a piece of paper in a dry erase pouch (see below), it can serve the same purpose.  :) They can hold up their answers on your signal and you can quickly assess.  From there, you can note who you need to meet with in small groups for further instruction or address any misconceptions on the spot.

Use them to give students practice with explaining their mathematical thinking.
Yes, there are task cards for every subject, but I love using my math task cards to help students practice and gain confidence in the area of explaining their mathematical thinking.

Give each student a task card.  Then, pair students up and task them with explaining to their partner how they solved the problem/arrived at their answer.  This is a difficult skill for primary students (at first) and by practicing with a classmate one on one, it can ease their nerves and help them build confidence. 

Use them to play a game of Around the School.
Around the Room (or I Spy as I often call it) is huge deal in my classroom.  We play it often, and the kids love it. You can use any set of task cards for this activity.  Simply set your task cards around the room, give your students a clipboard, and have them go from card to card until they are finished. You can read more about his activity here.

Buuuut, if you want to mix things up, or reward your students (while sticking to your objectives) why not take that game of Around the Room (or I Spy) out into the hallways and learning areas around your school?  Or, even the playground?  Of course some ground rules would be in order, but it would be a fun change of pace.

Use them as an exit ticket.
Yes, this is another form of informal assessment, but it's good to have variety!  Task cards are usually printed 4 to a page.  Print out a page of cards and have your students solve/answer the four cards on their page as their exit out the door.

Use them at the end of your lesson for independent practice.
I like to do this often.  At the end of my lesson, I will divide a set of task cards up among my table groups.  And, I give each student a piece of paper (sometimes colored paper...because that's more fun) and have them fold it into sections (usually four).  They use the spaces on their paper to solve any four of the task cards at their table group.

So, how is this different than an exit ticket?  Because, once the students have solved/answered their task cards, you can invite volunteers to come to the whiteboard to teach the class!  They can show their task card to the class and then show/explain how they answered it.  This can be done using a dry erase marker, or they can place their paper under the document camera.   Or, pair students up and let them teach each other (kind of an extension of idea number two).  Simply choose a method of sharing that best matches the type of task cards your students are working with.

For me, this works best with math task cards because the students show their work. They can bring their task card and their paper to the board and show the class how they solved the problem.  Then, when I go back to their papers later on, I can easily understand and evaluate their work.

Use them to play Race to 10.
Students can work in pairs to play this game. Give each pair of students some task cards (at least 24) and some counters.  Students place the set of task cards face down between them.  To play, students take turns solving/answering each task card.  Each time they get the answer right, they collect a counter.  The first person to collect 10 counters is the winner!

Use them to play a game.
Pair students up and have them use their task cards to facilitate a game of tic-tac-toe!  Give each pair of students a stack of task cards.  They can draw a game board on a piece of paper and place their stack of task cards (face down) next to their game board.   Students will take turns answering the question on their task card. If they answer correctly, they get to mark a space on their tic-tac-toe board.  If they do not answer correctly, they skip a turn.  Using double sided counters is a great way to preserve the game board.  When the game is over, they can be easily cleared away so that a new game can be played without having to redraw the game board.  :) 

You could use this same idea with any game, like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and so forth.

Be sure to visit THIS POST for more ideas for using task cards in the classroom.

Looking to add some task cards to your classroom?  I have several sets of math related task cards in my TPT store.

I hope you were able to take a new idea or two away from this post!


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Summer Reading List for Teachers {2017}

It's summer.  The sun is shining, the temps are rising, the days are longer, and there is more time to sit back and relax.  One of my favorite ways to relax during summer is to sit down and read a good book.  A good book and an ice cold drink makes for a day well spent. Plus, it's cheap entertainment!

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I'm joining my sweet friend, Molly, from Lucky to be in First to share my 2017 summer reading list.  Read on for some great recommendations as well as a list of books I look forward to reading!

My recommendations are first up.  These are books that I'm pretty sure you'll love as much as I did. Warning: I don't read heavy stuff.  I like to keep it light and fun. Anyhoo, I truly loved each of these books and I'm hoping you do too!

I love, love, love this series.  I read each of these books in no time flat.  I just couldn't put them down.  Each book focuses on a different character, but all the characters play a part in each book. There are three books and they do need to be read in order, starting with Party Girl.
  • Party Girl: Sweet Landon moves to L.A. to pursue her dream of working in event planning. She soon learns that her dream job is anything less than dreamy, but ultimately comes out on top because she was willing to take a chance on herself.
  • Sweet Girl: This is book two in the "Girl's" series.  This book is all about Max, a character from Party Girl.  Max pursues her dream of becoming a pastry chef but meets lots of obstacles along the way.  Don't worry, there's another happy ending in it for you. :)
  • Smart Girl: This is the third book in the series.  This story is about Miko, one more character from Party Girl.  She's quirky and smart and her story will make you laugh out loud more than once.
Little Beach Street Bakery: I love books about women finding/bettering themselves.  I also love books that have anything to do with baked goods. This book has both! You'll love reading the story of Polly finding her place in this world, and you might even drool a bit over the recipes at the back of the book.  :)
Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery: This book continues the story of Polly, from Little Beach Street Bakery. Another great read.
Pattern Play #2: Ok, so this is a coloring book, not a novel.  Buuuuuut, it too is a relaxing way to pass the time.  The designs in this book are fun and whimsical, and printed on high quality paper.  If you like to color, check it out!
In Defense of Read Aloud: If you are looking to read something teaching related, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great reminder as to why read aloud is important and should be a part of our daily repertoire in the classroom.  There are also lots of great read aloud suggestions and strategies for making your read alouds meaningful.

Having read the books above, it's time to get my hands on some new reading material!  Most of these books are currently sitting on my nightstand just waiting for me to crack them open.  And, I can't wait to get started!

If I Could Turn Back Time: The premise of this book reminds me of the movie 13 Going on 30, only on a deeper level (maybe...I hope...or just sounds like a fun read).  We shall see!

Once Upon a Wine: I'll read anything by Beth Kendrick, so I had to add this one to my collection.

The Hating Game: The title of this book seems pretty harsh, but it sounds like a cute romantic comedy of sorts.  You know the formula, guy and girl think they hate each other so they do unkind things to each other, but then they realize that maybe they don't hate each other after all.

All Fall Down: This one came recommended by a friend.  She has great taste, so I'm ordered my own copy.  It has a more serious story line, but Jennifer Weiner is a good storyteller, and I always enjoy her books.

Who's Doing the Work?:  Just reading the cover of this book makes me want to read it.  I want a classroom of independent readers, am I doing all that I can to encourage this?  Hmmmm....definitely want to read this book.

Missed last year's recommendations?  Click HERE to visit that post. :)

You can check out more great summer reading recommendations by vising Lucky to be in First HERE.

Do you have a great summer reading recommendation of your own?  Leave the title in a comment below and I'll be sure to check it out!


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Using a Classroom Handbook to Communicate Important Policies and Procedures

Do you want to know my number one tip for effectively sharing important classroom policies and  information with students' families?  A classroom handbook.  Just a few pages of key information could save you from floods of inquires on different matters throughout the year.  Now, doesn't that sound nice?

At the beginning of every school year, I use a variety of forms to get information from my students' parents. 

But let's be honest, they usually have lots of questions of their own about matters like homework, absences, birthdays, and so forth.  So, I've learned to simply compile that information into a small (easy to read) handbook that they can refer to throughout the year.  This little gem has truly reduced the number of inquiries I get regarding my classroom policies. 

What's Included
I recently shared my handbook on Instagram and received several questions about what I include in the booklet, as well as how I am able to prep it now, with school being 3 months away.  So, I thought I'd share a little bit about my handbook on the blog!

A classroom handbook can include anything you want/need it to include, that's the beauty of this tool!  My handbook includes the following information:
  • Letter to Parents
  • Progress Reports
  • Communication (best way to contact me)
  • Absences
  • Homework
  • Class Rules
  • Behavior Plan
  • Birthdays
  • a copy of our district Wellness and Nutrition Regulation

Here's a look at a few of the pages that I include in my handbook.  I always start it off with a note to the parents.  This letter welcomes families to second grade and gives them a brief overview of what to expect in second grade.

Homework is required in my district, and parents always like to know the expectations associated with this requirement.  Sharing the information up front saves me lots of time in the long run because I usually get very few questions about my expectations and policies once I start sending it home the second week.

I also like to address absences and how they relate to making up missed work/homework. I also include a form they can use when their child is absent. You an sneak a peek at this note by scrolling up to the image of the forms I send home.  It's the blue one.

I like to give families a little bit of information regarding progress reports, as well as the best way to contact me.  I'm terrible with the phone and make every effort to encourage families to either email or send in a note to relay information.

When parents know the classroom rules and corresponding behavior plan, they know exactly how to support their kids in maintaining successful learner behaviors in the classroom.  That's why I always make sure to share this information with them.  It helps them understand how I manage my classroom and they are better able to encourage their kids to work toward meeting these expectations.

Here's one last peek inside.  Birthdays are a big deal, but school is not the place for parties and there are rules about passing out party invitations.  By including this information in my handbook, I usually do not need to address the matter throughout the year (27 times).

I've found that if I stick to the basics, the handbook is more effective.  If it was jam packed with too much information it's both overwhelming and less likely to be read.  And, if it is, the information isn't going to be retained.

Since the information I include is fairly standard and changes very little from year to year, I am able to reuse the content from year to year (with the occasional tweak here and there). A little work up front pays off in the long run.  ;)

When to Send it Home
I usually send my handbook home within the first few days of school. Before sending it home, I like to gauge how much paperwork is being sent from the school/district before adding my own content to the mix.  I don't want it getting lost among the multitude of notes the school and district ask me to pass along.  I'm sure you can relate.  ;)

Encouraging Parents to Read the Handbook
I know we all struggle with sending home notes that are often times not read.  Or, at least that's how it feels.  Parents are busy people. They may not intentionally ignore our notes, but it does happen.  To encourage my students' parents to read through and keep this booklet on hand, I do the following:
  • Make a big deal about it when I pass it out to the students.  And, by that I mean that I explain how it includes important information that moms and dads often wonder/ask about.  I remind them that it's important for their parents to know about our classroom. Then, we take a look at what is included so they can share it with their parents like an expert.
  • Put a bright cover on it. This way, it stands out from all the other paperwork in their child's folder/backpack.
  • Refer to it in the first few newsletters that I send home.  This reminds the parents that the packet includes important information that they should be aware of at all times (and if they haven't read it yet, they should do so now).
  • Go over the content at Back to School Night.  I tell the parents that my presentation will be based on the booklet.  This encourages them to read through it (for the first, second, or third time) so they can decide if they want/need to come to Back to School Night. Sometimes it's hard for parents to attend this night due to child care issues, so this is often helpful for parents that fall into that category.
  • One more suggestion: I don't do this, but if you really want to make sure parents read your handbook, you could include a note that they sign and return stating that they've read over the content.  
Create a Handbook of Your Own
Love the idea of a class handbook but overwhelmed at the thought of creating one from scratch?  Fear not!  You can find this document, as well as a plethora of other useful back to school forms in my Back to School Forms pack on TPT.

My forms pack includes a ready to print PDF version as well as an editable Power Point. So, if the ready to print handbook doesn't exactly meet your needs, you can use the editable version to tailor the text to accurately reflect your policies and procedures.

Click the image below to check it out.  :)


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