Task cards are a favorite for centers, small groups, paired practice, and rotating through learning stations. However, did you know they make excellent whole-class activities too?
If students seem a little unengaged, if participation is less than 100%, or students just aren’t excited about the classroom activity, then these games are for you! Even better, there’s no prep time needed. Upper elementary and middle school students love task card games.
Before we look at the games, let’s discuss the benefits. Apart from simply being very engaging, these games increase learning by:
- Segmenting assignments in meaningful chunks
- Providing brain breaks
- Incorporating physical movement to increase blood flow and brain activity
- Increasing enthusiasm and joy, which aid in memory and retention
Task Card Basketball
Some call it trash-ket ball. This game is very basic and can be used with zero preparation. Nothing more is needed than a basket (empty trash cans work well) and a soft ball. Paper balls are fine, but the lightweight and small bouncy balls from Wal-Mart are even better!
The Right Task Cards
The groups are competing against each other to see who can earn the most points. They earn points by getting questions right and scoring baskets. It’s even better to add bonus points when they can explain their answer.
- Each group is given one task card. Groups of three or four students work best.
- The students must read the task card and complete the task.
- Task cards with a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions on the same card work the best.
Formative Data During the Game
The teacher walks the room as students work. Formative data (this is different than a formative assessment) is gathered as the teacher listens to group discussions. The teacher can use questions to support students as needed. The teacher then quietly tells each team if they are correct. This should take 2-4 minutes.
The teacher assigns a point to each group. Points are kept on the whiteboard. Then the first person in the group gets to shoot a basket. As the game progresses, the team takes turns shooting. You don’t want all the players shooting each round…too much time would be on the game and not enough time on the instructional task.
To make the game a little more exciting, you have a 1 pointer and a 2 point. You can use a yardstick or masking tape to mark the spots on the floor. The 1 pointer is really close, and the 2 pointer is further away.
The game is very exciting! The students who struggle the most with reading and math often try the hardest in this game. They love the physical aspect of the game. They aren’t students who like to sit at a desk for 50 minutes. This game plays to their strengths, and it provides great motivation for them to engage with the academic task!
After Each Round
You can rotate the task cards at the end of each round. Or you can leave the task cards at the desks and rotate the students. Your class size and room size will determine this.
You will need the same number of task cards as you have groups. Generally, 5 to 6 task cards are all you need. The game takes around 30 or 40 minutes. A set of 12-15 task cards can last three games. That’s some great practice!
TASK CARDS THAT STUDENTS LOVE
Explore task cards for your subject and grade level.